My sister recently came to me with an interesting predicament. Her cat, Kiko, seemed lonely, she said. My sister has tried to introduce her cat to other cats in the past – my shy calico, Pookie, included – and things did not go well. Kiko is highly territorial and hisses at other cats and keeps her distance. A lot of distance. If forced into a more contained area, Kiko will assert dominance, hiss, and cry until the other cat is removed or vice versa.
And yet, my sister tells me Kiko seems bored and lonely by herself. She will sometimes get into minor destructive habits, like knocking little knick knacks off of the dresser, or cry at my sister when she is not giving her 100% of her attention. So what is a person to do when their cat would definitely benefit from some social interaction but is hellbent on being a rebel loner? Here are a few tips to help slowly but safely introduce your lonely cat to the idea of socialization and other boredom-busters.
1. Start Small
If your cat seems restless and lonely but territorial, running out and adopting a second cat on a whim will only add to the issue, not solve it. If your cat is very territorial, start introducing the idea of sharing his domain with another animal very slowly. Start by bringing in blankets and toys that have the scents of potential future playmates on them. Introduce your cat to these objects in a positive way to start making the association that foreign animals aren’t all that scary.
2. Keep Initial Playdates Short And Sweet
After introducing your kitty to the smell of a new cat, such as a friend’s, have the cats meet in as neutral of an area as possible in your home, like the living room. Give the cats a short amount of time to test the waters. If they seem to get along perfectly fine, allow the play date to continue. Chances are, however, if your kitty is territorial, they will not be OK with a new cat being in their space for long. If you sense your cat is getting anxious or territorial, end the play date.
If you are thinking about permanently adding another cat to your home, be sure to check out our tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible. Again, it is not a race to get this new cat into your home. Give your original cat and your new cat as much time and space as they need to grow fond of each other.
3. Give Your Cat A View…And Invite Some Friends
If having cat play dates or getting another cat is absolutely out of the question, there is a way to invite other “playmates” over. Indoor cats benefit greatly from having a view of the outside world – whether that is a window perch or on a cozy bed near the sliding glass door to the backyard. Set up a bird feeder that is in direct view of your cat’s window perch. Seeing the birds will be extra stimulating for an indoor cat. However, be sure your cat cannot accidentally open or the window if she gets too excited by the birds.
4. Reintroduce Favorite Toys
Most cats have a few favorite toys they gravitate towards. Just like humans, cats can overplay with these toys and grow bored with them. If you find your cat acting extra restless, try hiding some of her favorite toys for a couple of weeks. Reintroducing these toys will be exciting and fun for your perma-bored kitty.
5. Try Introducing Your Cat To Dogs
Here’s the funny thing about Kiko – she loves dogs. Even though my sister has tried to introduce her to other cats to socialize with, it is with dogs that Kiko seems to have the best time. She loves to bat at them from a high vantage point and will even cuddle pretty close to them, if the dog allows.
Some cats may enjoy hanging out with other species other than their own. Dogs can be a nice option as playmates for territorial cats who have a difficult time with other felines. Just like when you are introducing another cat, be sure to introduce a pup to your cat at a pace that is comfortable for both animals involved.
Do you have a loner rebel of a cat? What do you do to insure she stays mentally stimulated and properly socialized? Let us know in the comments.