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How to Keep a Single Cat Happy: 10 Vet-Verified Tips for a Happy Kitty

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on May 8, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

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How to Keep a Single Cat Happy: 10 Vet-Verified Tips for a Happy Kitty


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

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

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If you only have a single feline in your home, you may wonder if your cat gets lonely or bored when you’re away from the house. Cats have a reputation for being somewhat aloof and fine to do things on their own—and they are indeed independent—but they also enjoy socializing with their humans. So, yes, they can become bored and lonely when left alone for long periods. Anecdotally, there’s even something called “single kitten syndrome” wherein it’s believed that single kittens adopted into homes miss out on vital socialization, which causes inappropriate behaviors later on.  However, this has not been scientifically proven and some studies indicate it isn’t the case.So, how can you ensure your single cat is happy (whether you’re home or not)? Below, you’ll find ten tips for a happy kitty! Incorporate these into your home and lifestyle, and your single cat should be one happy animal.

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The 10 Tips on How to Keep a Single Cat Happy

1. Play With Them Often

Image Credit: Kmpzzz, Shutterstock

Be sure to incorporate daily play sessions into your and your cat’s routine. Felines may sleep a lot, but they also love to play and are naturally athletic. If they can’t get their bursts of energy out via play, they might start releasing them in the form of negative behaviors, like scratching up furniture. You can find a plethora of cat toys out there (or you can make your own!). Try different ones to discover which your kitty loves the most. Not only will playing with your pet daily help them release energy, but it also gives the two of you an excellent chance to bond!

2. Have Many Toys on Hand

Speaking of toys, make sure your cat has plenty of them. Cats are rather notorious for playing with something once or twice and then ditching it, so you might want to make some toys to save money. Whether you purchase or make them, though, ensure your cat has enough and that you rotate them often. For those times when you aren’t at home, and you want your kitty to still be able to play, invest in some good self-play cat toys. These toys allow your kitty to play on their own and stay entertained, meaning your pet will be happier than ever.

Finding a toy that your cat enjoys, is genuinely drawn to, and is excited to play with can be a challenge. That's why having a few options is always a good idea until you get an idea of what gets them moving. We love the Hepper Catnip Stick and Whale Kicker for different reasons. For cats who need a little encouragement in playing, the stick is packed full of organic catnip enticing enough to lure in the laziest of felines. The Whale is a great option for cats who love to hunt, pounce, and kick! Both are extremely durable, and can be cleaned and reintroduced for play days yet to come. Find out which is best suited to you below. 

Hepper Catnip Stick Hepper_Plush Whale
Hepper Catnip Stick Hepper Whale Plush
Contains Catnip
Contains Catnip :
Contains Catnip :
Safe for KIttens
Safe for KIttens:
Safe for KIttens:
All-Natural :
All-Natural :
Washable :
Washable :

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

3. Set Up a Hunt

Hunting is a natural instinct for felines, and it’s an instinct they need to be allowed to utilize. You can help your kitty free their wild hunter side when you’re at home with toys that they can stalk, chase, and pounce on  or puzzle toys where they “hunt” for treats. But what about when you’re away from home? If you want your cat to have a chance to do some hunting when you aren’t there, try hiding some treats around the house for them to find. This lets them use their nose to hunt down something tasty, which they’ll surely enjoy!

4. Set Up Several Scratching Posts

Felines need to keep their claws nice and sharp; the perfect way to do that is with a scratching post. Scratching posts don’t only allow them to sharpen their claws, though; they also let them burn off extra energy, scent mark,  and stretch out all their muscles. So, have a few scratching posts scattered around the house for your pet to use. If, for some reason, you can’t have a few, be sure to have at least one. Without any spots that can be used to stretch and claw, your cat will find their own spot, which will often be a sofa or other piece of furniture.

5. Add Vertical Space

Cats love to be up high, but you don’t necessarily want them climbing your bookshelves to achieve that height. What can you do? Add more vertical space to your home in the form of cat towers! Cat tolinkwers are fantastic because they let the cat get up high, where they feel safer, and allow them to have cozy spots for napping, hiding, and playing. You don’t have to get the tallest cat tower, but get a tower with at least a few levels your cat can lounge on or climb when they want. Plus, most towers contain scratching posts, so the cat tower will likely end up being your pet’s favorite spot in the house.

6. Let Kitty See Outside

Cats are fascinated by what goes on outside, especially if they’re strictly indoor kitties. Setting up some observation areas where your pet can see outside will go far in keeping them entertained. This can be as simple as placing a couple of blankets on a side table that sits right next to a window. Alternatively, you may want to set a perch in the window that doubles as a kitty bed. These can range from incredibly easy to place to needing a bit of work to set up, but there are many you can choose from.

7. Bring the Outdoors Indoors

Image Credit: Foto2rich, Shutterstock

While you certainly can’t bring birds and squirrels to the cat, you can incorporate cat-safe plants into your home décor. You can even set up a kitty garden with catnip or silvervine! This allows your pet to have some of what they see outdoors while allowing them to experience new and intriguing things. Plus, if you have a kitty garden, there’s the added benefit of your cat getting to enjoy some fresh catnip whenever they want!

8. Turn Your Patio into a Catio

What exactly is a catio? It’s a screened-in outdoor space for cats! You can enclose your patio or porch with galvanized stainless steel mesh or something similar so your pet can still go out and enjoy air flow while staying safe from cars and roads.   Place a cat tower, cat bed, and other cat-friendly areas inside for your kitty. If you’re handy, you can do all that yourself, as there are many catio plans with instructions online. However, if your handyman skills are limited, you can also buy catio spaces for your pet which you can link to your window or cat flap so that your cat can go in and out as it pleases.

9. Have Comfy Cat Beds Available

Image Credit: Deyan Georgiev, Shutterstock

At some point, your cat will wear themselves out from all the fun they’re having! When they do, ensure they have a couple of cozy areas to choose from where they can crash. Buy a bed that has bolsters where they can lay their head, or invest in a nice hidey-hole bed. Or simply pile up some of your comfiest, floofiest blankets and make a little nest where your pet can rest. Put your cat’s beds in their favorite areas, and your kitty is all set!

10. Adopt Another Cat?

In a handful of cases, if your kitty still isn’t happy after all that, it could be time to consider adopting another cat. However, cats originate from a largely solitary species, and although they can live together in groups, these are usually related animals.  If you put two unrelated cats together, you may well cause more problems than you solve.  Cats that don’t get on but who have to live together often develop behavioral problems, as a result of stress.  These problem behaviors may include spraying urine, defecating outside of the litter box or over grooming themselves.  Medical problems can arise as a result of stress too, most commonly stress-related cystitis.  Having another animal in the home may offer your cat a playmate and company, but it may well cause you and your cat more difficulties.  If you are keen to adopt a second cat, speak to your local cat rescue center about which cats they would recommend rehoming to a household that already has a cat.

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If you only have a single cat in your home, they may end up getting bored or lonely, particularly if you’re away at work often. You can keep your pet happier by increasing the number of items they have to play with and the space they can use in your home. Adopting another cat may well not be the answer to your cat’s problems, and may do more harm than good.

Featured Image Credit: Olezzo, Shutterstock

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