If you are concerned that your cat is having health or behavioral problems related to living a solo existence, take her to the vet first to rule out any medical conditions. Because cats can’t tell us when they’re sick, they also exhibit some of the instant symptoms to alert us that they’re not feeling too well.
But if she is cleared by the vet and has a clean bill of health, she may just be lonely.
Is Your cat feeling lonely? Follow these 15 steps to help a lonely cat.
Here are 15 ways to help your cat feel less blue while you’re gone:
1. Let her look outside
Pets are super visual creatures. They like to look out the window and watch squirrels, birds, and rabbits run around, even if they can’t go after them themselves. So allow your cat to look outside through window.
2. Keep him occupied
Make sure he has plenty of toys to stay busy and distracted while you’re away. His favorite, familiar things – like his toys, bed, and blanket – should be accessible. Make sure he has plenty of scratching posts around the house.
3. Play music or put on the television
Sights and sounds are comforting and distracting for cats, as long as the volume is at a reasonable level. And what music is best to calm and relax your cat? Classical music. Cats specifically enjoy the violins in classical music while dogs prefer it mixed with a little ambient noise like dogs barking or people talking. Bach on!
4. Get him a sibling
But do it the right way and for the right reasons. Make sure it’s for his physical or mental well-being and not for your guilt. Finding a new companion for your current cat shouldn’t be a spontaneous event, advises Dr. Mahaney. “If your veterinarian deems your cat healthy enough to have a household companion and if you have the financial means and available time to appropriately care for multiple cats, then the process of pursuing an additional catt can be pursued.” And take your cat along for the adoption process. Don’t assume they’re going to get along — if you bring him home and they hate each other, you’re going to be in a difficult spot.
5. Socialize her
If you think she needs socialization, set up a play date, take her to the park, or consider enrolling her in daycare. It will help you decide if she needs a constant playmate (like a sibling) or just a friend from time to time.
6. Go home on your lunch break
Or ask a friend to stop over. It will help break up the day for your pet (and yourself!) and allow some one-on-one time. If you have a dog, hiring a dog walker is also a great idea – your dog gets to see a friendly face, is able to use the restroom, and gets some exercise.
7. Exercise her before you leave
Take her for an early run or walk or play a game with her in the house. If she exerts a lot of energy early in the day, she will be tired and less anxious that you’re leaving. What’s more, she’ll start to look forward to those active moments with you in the morning instead of dreading the fact that you’re going to work.
8. Building the fun zone
When your cat is ready to play, a special space that has been set up just for that purpose is important. Even if you don’t have an extra room to devote as a cat haven, a corner of a room or a window will suffice. Set up a nice cat tree and/or scratching post that is specially made for climbing and claw exercises.
9. Routine for Leaving and Returning Home
Make an effort to ignore your cat before leaving for the day, so your cat learns not to be traumatized by your departure. You should return to your home without calling or seeking out your cat right away. It’s natural to want to give your cat affection, but it’s best to let a cat come to you allowing it to deal with your going and returning quietly and without drama.
10. Environmental Enrichment
Without you around, your kitty may become bored and find unacceptable ways to relieve her boredom, like scratching the furniture or other destructive behavior. Make her environment a fun, interesting place to be, even while she’s alone.
Spend time with your kitty to prevent loneliness and to bond with her. Engage her in interactive play for 15 to 20 minutes each day to keep her mentally and physically active, recommends the Longmont Humane Society. This will also reduce the chances of her becoming obese.
12. A bit of yourself
Grab a worn or unwashed T-shirt of yours and place it on your cat’s favorite napping place. This way your cat can get a sense of reassurance from the presence of your scent, will be reminded of you and feel safe and happy.
Note: Please don’t use clothes that you’ve used perfume on.
13. Treat hunting
Cats love to hunt. Keeping that in mind you can make your cat’s environment a fun, challenging and interesting place to be by grabbing a few special dry treats and hide them around the house. Using her excellent sense of smell your cat will start actively looking for the treats. This should keep her occupied for some time and will eventually get her tired.
If you are going to be away for a longer period, consider having a neighbor or friend, or paying someone to come to keep your cat company, play, feed and take care of her while you are away. Make sure this person is reliable and has all the knowledge of how to take care of your beloved friend. This way your cat will have social interaction and medical care, and you will have a peace of mind knowing your pet is in good hands.
15. Talk to your vet
If her depression and anxiety doesn’t improve – especially after weeks or months of trying various techniques – talk to your vet or behavioral specialist about other options. You don’t want your pet or home to be in disarray.