One thing I have learned since having 2 kitties at the same time, is how social cats are. I mean they are not the loners that a lot of people think they are. They thrive off of social interaction and are by nature very curious creatures. They need constant mental stimulation or they can get depressed. My kitty Shadow has recently started displaying signs of a lonely depressed cat, since we had to put Skittles down. Here's my tips based off of personal experience of that helped me deal with a lonely cat.
Before I explain the how to's, I want to first name the signs of a stressed and lonely cat.
- Peeing on furniture/ Spraying or Squatting
- Moving objects around
- Scratching furniture
- Over grooming
- Loud vocalizations
Has your cat started peeing on furniture and not in their litter box? Are you coming home to objects moved around or fallen off your counters or coffee table? Is your cat suddenly suddenly scratching up your couch or chairs? When you come home are they very vocal about demanding your attention? These are all signs that your cat is lonely and possibly depressed while you are away. While doing my research and talking with several Vets, I found a lot of surprising facts about cats I had not previously know.
Cats are very social and need constant interaction whether by their human companion or another feline friend. They are need constant mental stimulation which come come from several sources which I will list in just a moment. If a cat is without a playmate to keep them occupied, they can become stressed and lonely and will vocalize loudly and insistently, and can even become destructive.
Keep in mind that your cat is not doing any of these things to punish you while you are gone. Your cat is just looking for ways to keep himself entertained and use up the building energy he has. Don't fret! There are things you can do to help your kitty feel loved and keep him stimulated during the day while you are away.
Toys - Having various toys for your kitty helps keep them entertained during the day and even night while you are sleeping. The best ones are toys with catnip and ones that requires them to think.
(This Lobster toy is filled with catnip. The ball game is a favorite as it easily moves from one end to the other and encourages your kitty to help push it along)
Bird Feeders - If you can afford to keep the feeder full this is a great way to keep your cat entertained. It ensures that birds will come around and your cat will fixate on them until the bird has flown away. If you are in an upstairs apartment like me and concerned about the mess, a great alternative would be a Hummingbird feeder which requires nectar instead of food pieces.
Kitty Condo - This is another great way to help allow you kitty to see more of the outdoors. Cats will always have a longing to be outside even if they have always been indoors. It's their nature to want to be outside playing and hunting. Giving your kitty a way to at least see more of the outdoors can keep them entertained for hours. They can watch all sorts of animals and happenings going on and will make them less likely to get up on the furniture you don't want them on. One thing I did read is the higher the better as many cat species do prefer higher elevated spaces.
Scavenger Games - I realize this may go along with toys but it's a little more than just having a toy with some catnip. The idea is similar to hiding objects around the house and sending your child on a hunt. By hiding little treats around your place or toys with catnip it keeps them entertained while trying to use their senses and hunt it down. It always gives them a reward when they do find it.
Play with your kitty - This most important as it lets your kitty know you love having him around. A cat is not meant to be there only when it is convenient for you. Your kitty needs you to spend time with him, play with him and show him the affection he needs. Get our that laser toy or string that he loves. Cuddle with your kitty on the couch while you watch a movie. Talk to your kitty even if he doesn't understand you, because he will always find your voice soothing.
All of these suggestions have worked for me while living in an apartment and so far they have all helped. Granted I do not have a Kitty Condo yet but it is on my to do list. For right now he has perches and boxes he loves laying on and it gets him off the ground which he loves. However, in my research there was a couple other suggestions I really liked but do require more money. Here are 2 of the suggestions that don't fit into my current budget but may work for you.
Webcam - This may initially sound silly and I will admit I was skeptical myself. However, after reading many different articles and people's experiences using one I heard nothing but great things. Setting up a webcam that your kitty can get to easily, creates the feeling that you are there without physically being in front of them. It gives them comfort to hear your own voice and makes them feel safe and loved.
Kitty Companion - Everywhere I read, and even people I talked to, always suggest having or getting 2 cats if and when possible. This is the quickest way way a cat can get entertained with the quickest reward. All he has to do is get his playmate on board and he's all set! Now this does mean double the work and a little more expense but can mean a much lower chance of dealing with lonely or stressed cats.
Are there things you've tried that really seemed to help your kitty stay happy and entertained? Any tips or tricks not shared here that you would like other feline parents to know about? All comments and thoughts are always welcome so start your comments below!