Is Your Cat Lonely? These 7 Signs Will Help You Find Out

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An evocative image portraying a lonely cat.

Cats are by nature really territorial, and they see you as part of their territory. They easily attach to humans not only for the bond it creates but also because of their survival instinct, depicting their owners as a giant protector.

Now it has to be said, cats are not pack animals like dogs, but they do need a social life! They need to meet and interact with other people and indeed other animals.

Let’s be honest, we all have hectic and busy schedules trying to juggle work and personal life, so there are times that you will need to leave your cat alone.

Also Read: Best Cat Toys For Cats Home Alone

There is a good chance if you have just one indoor cat, it will get bored at some point. And a bored cat will unfortunately get lonely.

Do Cats Get Lonely?

According to veterinarian Dr. Arnold Plotnick, cats can show signs of anxiety when separated from their favorite human and left alone for long periods of time.

Yes, I know that it may seem that when you do go out and come back in, your cat can act pretty indifferently. Sometimes it is almost like they did not even realize you had gone out and come back again, but believe me, they know. They definitely do miss you when you are not there for some time.

Thankfully, with the advent of technology, there are some cool interactive cat toys that can stop a lonely cat from getting bored, however, you should still always make time to play with him when you can.

How to Tell if Your Cat Is Lonely?

Lonely cats may show wide range of signs and behavioral changes. Understanding your cat’s unique behaviors is crucial for ensuring their well-being and happiness. observing our cats demeanor and noting any deviations from their usual habits and that’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the signs of a lonely cat.

7 Signs Your Cat is Feeling Lonely

Now, as most of us cat owners know, they are really expressive little creatures and can easily show you how they feel. Because cats can so easily let us know how they are feeling, there are some warning signs that will allow you to spot if your cat is becoming bored and lonely.

1. Constant Meowing

An inquisitive cat with white and gray fur is captured mid-meow, mouth open and eyes focused.

Cats meow for a huge amount of reasons, but if they keep meowing and it sounds quite low pitched, it will almost sound like he or she is in pain. According to WebMD, cats can excessively meow for several reasons, one of them being loneliness. Non-stop meowing is often the form of crying for attention and telling you that they are lonely at night or even during the day.

2. Becoming Clingy and Needy

A close-up photograph of a affectionate cat.

Cats, as said above, can be a bit indifferent, but there are times when they love to run around your feet and jump on your lap for some cuddles, which is great for both of you. However, if you notice your cat will not leave your side and is constantly sleeping on you or sitting on your lap, this could be a sign that they are lonely.

3. Hairballs and Constant, Heavy Grooming

Cats love to look good, they are very clean animals and like to look after themselves by grooming. Because of this they occasionally cough up nasty little hairballs.

If you notice that your cat is over-grooming itself and is coughing up hairballs more than usual, there could be a chance that they are lonely.

Also Read: Best Cat Food For Hairball Control

If your cat is indeed over-grooming it is a good idea to take it to the vet, to rule out any possible skin infection. If there aren’t any, your vet will probably ask you a few questions to discover the underlying cause, such as loneliness and boredom.

4. Becoming Destructive

A captivating tuxedo cat with a striking black and white coat pattern.

If your cat starts to destroy things (that they would not normally play with) when you are out, this is a good indicator that they are lonely and bored.

5. Change in Behavior

The majority of cats are usually really fun to be around. If you notice that your feline is starting to “act a bit strange” towards you and becoming aggressive, then they may feel lonely.

6. Spraying

This is a sure way to tell if your cat is lonely. If you notice that they are squatting and spraying away from their litter tray, this is their way of telling you that they are bored and lonely.

Also Read: Top 10 Best Cat Urine Removers

7. Loss of Appetite

A serene cat basking in the sunlight.

Another way to tell if your cat is feeling lonely, is that they won’t come close to their food like usual. If you do find yourself leaving your cat alone and they are not eating, they could be lonely!

Now, if you are unsure, or you feel that your cat could potentially be ill, always take them to the vet, because there could indeed be an underlying health problem that needs to be sorted out.

Like with all animals, and indeed with us humans, all cats are different and have different personalities.

Only you know your cat the best. If you think that they are lonely because you are out of the house often, and you notice any of the above signs, don’t worry. There are ways to change their behavior and make them happy and stimulated.

Tips for a Happy Home-Alone Kitty

As mentioned, there are a few fantastic automated and interactive cat toys that will keep your cat amused while you are out of the house.

However, there are also some other things that you can do to make sure that your cat is entertained, especially if you are on a budget.

  • Leave some of your cat’s favorite toys out.
  • Make sure there is a window with a sill or a perch for your cat to sit on and look out.
  • How about putting a bird feeder on the window to attract some birds, so your cat can watch them? If you do this though, make sure that you do keep the window shut, otherwise your cat could not only escape, but a bird may have had its last meal!
  • If you do have to go out for sometime, try leaving the television on or even a radio or music playing, this can definitely help your cat become less bored.

Always make time to play with your cat every day. They really do love to interact with you, even when they get older and may seem a bit more “grumpy”. And finally, consider adopting a friend for your cat so that he or she has someone to play with when you’re out during the day.

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About Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS

Dr. Woodnutt is a small animal veterinarian and cat behavior and nutrition writer. She's passionate about helping owners to learn more about their pets in order to improve animal welfare. In her spare time, Dr. Woodnutt takes consultations on the small island of Guernsey.

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10 thoughts on “Is Your Cat Lonely? These 7 Signs Will Help You Find Out”

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  1. Connie L Bartlett

    I would like to know what I can do to stop my ? from being so clingy especially when he keeps meowing or constantly rubbing on my leg until I stop what I am doing to cuddle up with him

    1. Felix

      Not sure why this bothers you? Cats need affection just like humans do. My suggestion is to pick up your cat and hug him and give him some shoulder rides. You might find that few minutes a day a major stress reliever and might look forward to it daily. I’m currently sitting with a snuggled up orange cat on my chest right now, and we’re both happy.

  2. Mary Ellen Croci

    I LOVE this site! I did have two cats–one died in 2016 -August; the remaining of this twosome.
    lives with me now.
    “Megan” came to me after a good friend’s friend called me from a pet shelter chain telling me:
    You need to get a partner for your cat ” Atlas”. And so I then went to the chain and received the only cat there!!!!!
    Megan immediately looked at me ( with her Big eye -and little eye ) sized me up–as she jumped into my arms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    She is a black cat-which never would have dissuaded me as some might do…yet I never owned a black cat; never listened to the lore about black cats.
    ……as well the best part of Megans story I will now tell you..
    I owned “Atlas” for four years before Megan came to my life. And after two years, he cried and moaned in a corner of my apartment. Someone had told me ” He needs a partner!!!” So-
    When Megan came to me , she walked in; and went all around the apt. eventually to the cat stand.
    Once on the top-she looked down at the floor and Atlas as if to say: ” Guess what? I am the Queen of the Cat crib and you are Moot!” Once both met all playful and sunny days were ahead!!
    And now-Megan and I are inseparable as she pets me to wake up-to play-and during MY times of need ; she cries.
    I am a painter -and one who has been lucky in sales and exhibitions. Megan and Atlas have been paramount within’ the narrative stories I paint about.
    When I had my left hip replaced in 2018 she laid with me in my bed stroking my arms…
    what a wonderful companion she has become!!!!! Treasured Cribmate is she!!!!

  3. belinda cartagena

    Beautiful experience, God bless you and your cat,I’m sorry about your other cat,but it looks like things are getting a little complicated after the loss of your kitty,considering another feline has to be really difficult, I hope and pray things turn out for the better for you and your cat. Good Luck hope you have comforting days ahead.

  4. Doris Aponte

    I am cat sitting for my daughters cat , it was only suppose to be temporarily and is already 3 weeks, the cat used to like to roam outside and alwAys find his way back to the house. However my neighborhood is unfamiliar to him and we have several stray cats roaming and I am terrified that our cat would be lost and not find his way back to our house if he ever got outside by accident, my husband is not used to cats and might forget to close the front door unintentionally, I keep Pepper in my daughters room. Feed him; keep fresh water; toys and he can look out the window, I check on him several times a day and give him treats, at night I stay in the room with him for at least 3 hours and he snuggles, I feel so bad leaving him in the room, is it cruel or better safe than sorry

    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      Hi Doris, thanks for commenting! Personally, I think it’s probably okay to keep your daughter’s cat in the room—it would be nice if he could get out and explore the rest of the house, but if that particular room is your only option, I doubt that it’ll be a huge problem for him. I would keep an eye on Pepper’s behavior, looking for signs of stress or unhappiness. If everything seems okay, I wouldn’t worry about it. Certainly, keeping him in the room is better than letting him roam around an unfamiliar neighborhood.

  5. Mojo

    So recently I broke up with my girlfiend… She had 3 cats and I have 1. We lived together for 2-3 years. When she moved out of course she took her cats with her, leaving just me and my one cat. My cat is now more clingy and will meow randomly throughout the apartment. I’m not sure what to do and I feel bad leaving her by herself, but I work and have a social life.

  6. Malaa

    i have an outdoors cat and for the past couple of days he has been meowing a lot in the garden as if he’s looking for other cats and is lonely, I try to spend time with him but he is more of an antisocial cat doesn’t like being petted or touched for too long. He is 3 years old, I don’t know if he is looking for to mate and is lonely, what i can do to help him. i have also brought him many toys but he shows no interest. i cannot get another cat to give him company, he spends most of his time outside, i strongly feel he is lonely and don’t know what i can do… please help

    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      If your cat is not neutered, this sounds like typical male behavior. There’s not really much you can do other than ensure he’s physically healthy and try to give him a safe, nourishing environment. If you’d like to get him neutered, it would probably alleviate a lot of that apparent moodiness.