Cats are solitary creatures, but despite their preference for hunting and eating alone, they still require social interaction. Without healthy stimulation, cats can become lonely. The argument against this is that cats in the wild don't run in packs and are perfectly content to roam alone all day. While this is true, wild cats have one significant advantage over the domestic cat; they are free to seek their own stimulation.
Wild cats are not restricted to the house, with its limited space, limited items, and limited food. If a feral cat becomes bored with his situation, he can seek a new one, in a new and exciting place whereas the domestic cat is confined within walls. If left alone and unstimulated, your cat can develop behavior issues that are frustrating for the both of you.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs you cat is lonely.
- Destructive Behavior: Dogs are not the only ones to chew and tear-up the pillows, carpet, and curtains. Cats might also move items around in your house while you're away as a way to stimulate and occupy their minds.
- Increased Aloofness or Aggression: Does your cat hide when you come home and refuse to see you? Does she only eat her meal when your there and gulps it down like it's her last? Or does she hiss at you and is seem upset when you come home? Negative emotional behaviors are a sign she's lonely and scared.
- Increased Vocalization: Perhaps your cat doesn't leave your side and chatters away at you. She might follow you around the house and show over-affection toward you. While this might make you feel good at first, incessant vocalization is a sign of distress and will wear on your nerves after a time.
- Over-grooming: Some cats develop nervous behaviors, like over-grooming. They will lick and bite off their hair, which can cause health-related issues as well as be a significant sign of emotional distress.
- Spraying and Poor Litter Box Habits: Some cats will develop potty issues and may eliminate in inappropriate places. Above all, this is the most frustrating for pet owners, but they should consider the reasons for their cat's choice. If it's not health-related, it's probably emotionally related.
If your cat seems lonely, try to increase her stimulation while you're gone. Sometimes, adding a new pet to your home may help, but be aware of how your cat may react. A new brother or sister may have the opposite effect. Instead of adopting a companion pet, visit her on your lunch break from work. If that's not possible, try to have a friend or a pet-sitter pop in for a visit and a quick play. You can also rotate some of her favorite toys, get her a window perch so she can watch all the fun things outside, or buy an interactive food-toy for her. You know your cat best, so try giving her the stimulation that will keep her satisfied while you're away.