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How to Tell If Your Cat Is Lonely: 7 Signs to Look Out For

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Sad Cat

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Lonely: 7 Signs to Look Out For

You might not realize it, but your cat could be lonely. We often think of cats as independent creatures. However, they are much more social than we realize, and even less affectionate felines who dislike being held or picked up can get lonely when their owners don’t give them enough attention. In this post, we’ll share seven common signs of a lonely cat and discuss what you can do to ease your cat’s loneliness.

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The 7 Ways to Tell if Your Cat Is Lonely

1. Sleepiness

It’s no secret that cats sleep a lot. On average, a housecat will sleep between 12 and 18 hours daily. When there’s nothing else to do, you may notice your cat sleeping more often than usual. Your cat may also choose sleep over playtime if they’re feeling lonely or depressed.

bengal cat sleeping on a person's feet
Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock

2. Destructive Behavior

Cats are natural-born hunters and enjoy sinking their claws and teeth into anything they can get their paws on. Usually, a well-behaved cat understands that the furniture is off-limits. But a lonely or depressed cat will use destructive behavior to seek your attention.

3. Increased Vocalization

In the wild, cats typically don’t vocalize with other cats unless threatened or injured. Meowing is something cats do to gain a human’s attention. Some cats enjoy chatting more than others, but a lonely kitty may be more vocal than usual.

cat meowing
Image Credit: Stanimir G.Stoev, Shutterstock

4. Litter Box Issues

The litter box is one of the best places for our cats to tell us something is wrong because it catches our attention quickly. Granted, it’s not the preferred way to inform us of their dissatisfaction, but how else will they gain our attention?

Cats sometimes urinate or defecate outside the litter box if they feel sick or have a behavioral problem. If you notice any changes in your cat’s normal toileting habits, it’s wise to take your cat to the veterinarian before presuming it’s a behavioral issue.

5. Aggression

aggressive cat in a cage
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

Cats can become aggressive for several reasons, and identifying why a cat is lashing out is complex. Loneliness can be an underlying cause of aggression. For instance, if your cat doesn’t have a companion to “cat around” with, they may redirect their aggression toward other people and pets.

6. Eating Too Much (Or Too Little)

Cats lacking social interaction may change their eating habits by eating more or less (but cats tend to overeat when bored). It happens to all of us, including our cats. Food hits the spot by releasing dopamine in the brain, causing them to feel good when there’s nothing else to do.

7. Change in Energy

sad lonely cat lying on bed
Image Credit by: medveda, Shutterstock

Like humans, cats feel lethargic when lonely and depressed. A lonely cat will often feel deflated, like a couch potato with no real motivation to do anything. Even if your cat is awake, they may refuse to engage in playtime and exercise.

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What to Do if Your Cat Is Lonely

So, how do you fix a lonely cat? You must change the surrounding environment to make your cat feel better. It’s not enough to give your cat a toy and a snack and call it good. Cats need to socialize with humans and animals.

Here are three things you can do to ease your cat’s loneliness:

Catify the Space

“Catifying” the space means enriching the environment in a cat-friendly way. Cat trees, scratchers, plants, windows, and even a couple of rugs can make a big difference in your cat’s overall mental health.

These material objects allow your cat the freedom to act on instinct rather than tiptoe around rules. Your cat needs something to climb, chase, scratch, and chew, so start catifying the space if you haven’t already.

Playtime & Exercise

Remember how we mentioned dopamine earlier? Cats are natural-born hunters that live for the thrill of “the hunt.” Anytime a cat hunts, those “feel good” chemicals are released, making your cat feel energized.

Since indoor cats aren’t free to hunt live prey, it’s up to us as cat owners to mimic the hunt for our cats with toys. Only ten minutes of playtime is all you need to help your cat feel better. If your cat feels depressed, they may not be up for playtime immediately, but keep trying. They will come around eventually.

Adopt a Friend

Cats can relate to each other in ways we can’t imagine. They understand what it means to be a cat, and bringing home a new friend for your kitty can end their loneliness.

Take your time selecting a new cat and slowly introduce them to your home. Your cat may not initially be receptive to a new friend, and that’s okay.

two cats wrestling
Image Credit: AdinaVoicu, Pixabay

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Is your cat going to show all these signs at once? Probably not. But now you know what to look for and what you can do to help. Instead of trying to fix your cat, think about enrichment. How can you improve your cat’s life so that they feel like a kitten again? Typically, cats don’t like change, but a small change can be welcoming to a lonely kitty.

Featured Image Credit: g3gg0, pixabay

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