Ask Doctor Dog: Do Cats Get Lonely?
Today, Doctor Dog is covering a question that cat lovers have been asking for eons: Do cats benefit from having a feline friend, or are they happier on their own?
Remember, you can ask the Doc questions whenever you want. Then, look for her responses in the Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets.
The Question: Do Cats Need Friends, or Are They Better Off Alone?
Dear Doctor Dog,
I adopted a kitten a year ago after fostering a litter, and now I'm worried that I should have kept one of her siblings. I was led to believe that cats are low-maintenance and not very social, but my kitty (whose name is also, creatively, Kitty) is glued to my side the second I walk in the door.
Is she lonely? Would adopting a second cat make her happy? Unfortunately, working from home isn't an option right now. I appreciate any help you can provide.
– Larissa Hall from Overland, Montana
Doctor Dog's Answer: It Depends on the Cat
Is this your first cat? You're already doing an amazing job looking out for kitty's best interests. Cats have a different social structure from dogs, and many of them are happy to remain the only pet in the household. Some, however, benefit from the companionship of having another cat in the house.
Signs your cat might be missing the connection of a fellow feline include changes in behavior, like eating more or less than usual, neglecting grooming habits, or being excessively clingy (like you mentioned). While adopting two littermates provides the best chance for two cats to bond, your cat is still young enough to connect with another cat. If you opt to bring another cat home, the introduction process should be gradual. Some hissing and territorial behavior is normal at first, but that should fade in time.
Most of the time, cats adjust to having a new cat in the house, although how close they become is hit or miss. Older cats tend to be more set in their "only cat" ways, so adopting sooner than later is your best bet for a successful introduction.
Both kitties should be spayed or neutered, and there should be a minimum of one litter box per cat in the house, plus an extra. If you work with a reputable pet adoption agency, they should allow for a test period to make sure the pairing works out before making a lifetime commitment.
If you do choose to bring home another cat, send us photos. I promise I won't chase them, no matter how fun it looks.
— Doctor Dog
More Infurmation About Kitty Companions
Introducing two cats takes time, patience and a little preparation. To plan ahead, check out the video below.
Have a Question for Doctor Dog?
Leave any questions for me, and look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets. Have questions about cats, bunnies, hamsters or any other critters? Shoot! I may be a dog myself, but I'm here to help all your animal companions, whether they have four legs or fins.
Important reminder: Doctor Dog is happy to provide general pet care guidance, but she cannot provide formal medical recommendations or diagnoses for your pet. Your pet's veterinarian should always be your primary resource for serious questions regarding your pet's health.