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Are Cats Social Animals? Vet-Approved Facts

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

burmese cats lying on sofa

Are Cats Social Animals? Vet-Approved Facts

VET APPROVED

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Dogs and cats are the two most popular pets worldwide, but their reputations differ. While dogs are considered friendly pets that want to be part of a pack, cats are considered independent loners that are fine on their own. So, do cats like other cats? In reality, cats are also social animals in the right circumstances.

In this article, you’ll learn more about the social lives of cats, both in the wild and at home, and whether kitties enjoy the company of other felines. If you’re thinking of adding a second cat to your home, we’ll give you some tips on how to make the transition successful.

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The (Not-So-Secret) Social Lives of Cats

Cats are primarily social with other kitties that are related to them.1 Stray domestic cats and wild felines form family groups based around a mother and her kittens. Kittens may stay with the group for the first 12-18 months of life before leaving the group.

Outdoor cat groups can vary in size based on how much food they can find to survive. When resources are scarce, cats become less social and more focused on finding food. Indoor pet cats can be more unpredictable regarding their social lives. Kittens typically get along, especially if they’re littermates. However, adult cats won’t always like being around other grown cats they aren’t related to. Many pet cats meet their social needs by bonding with their humans or even the family dog.

two feral cats on the table
Image by: Nathalie Jolie, Unsplash

Does My Cat Need Another Cat?

An adult pet cat may be perfectly content to live as an “only child.” However, some cats may be bored or lonely and would benefit from a companion. Here are some signs that may indicate that your kitty is ready for a friend:

  • Constantly begging you for attention
  • Appetite or activity changes
  • Peeing outside the litter box
  • Overgrooming

Remember that these signs can indicate various medical and behavioral conditions, so you should talk to your veterinarian if you notice them. Your vet can help you rule out any medical problems first and counsel you on managing any behavioral issues. They can also help you decide if getting another cat is the solution to your pet’s problems.

Young lady scratching cats chin
Image by: Mikhail Nilov, Pexels

Tips for Adding Another Cat to the Family

If your cat has previously shown aggression towards other cats, either visitors or outside kitties, it may not be wise to bring home another one. Again, adult cats aren’t naturally inclined to socialize with unfamiliar felines.

Adult cats are more likely to accept a kitten, so adopting a baby cat may increase your chances of a successful introduction. Making sure both animals are spayed or neutered is also highly recommended.

Cats are territorial animals, so you must have enough space for everyone to retreat to their comfortable corners if needed. Ensure there are enough beds, hiding places, litter boxes, food and water bowls, scratching posts, and toys to go around so the cats don’t need to compete for resources.

Introduce the cats to each other slowly, ideally allowing them to get used to each other’s scent first. For example, keep the new cat separated from your original feline but feed them on either side of a closed door. This lets the cats smell each other and form a positive association with the new scent because they’re enjoying a meal.

Watch for any signs of aggression or stress once the cats are allowed to interact. Despite your best efforts, there’s no good way to predict how two unrelated cats will get along. Ask your veterinarian for help before your home descends into a feline battleground.

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Conclusion

Cats aren’t always considered social creatures, but related kitties can form strong family groups. Not all indoor pet cats enjoy the company of others, however, and may experience stress and anxiety if forced to live with other felines. Don’t assume your cat is lonely living alone, especially if you can give them plenty of attention and social interaction. Adding a new pet is a big decision for anyone, so don’t feel pressure to provide a feline friend for your kitty. They might be just fine without one!


Featured Image Credit: Sergey Neanderthalec, Shutterstock

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