Porky & Buddy tackle cat loneliness

Dear Porky,

My six year old female cat, Sophie, has been with me since she was a kitten.

Her best buddy, Squiggles, (He came with that name, sorry) passed away last year at the age of 19 and I don’t think that Sophie has really gotten over it?

Do cats “grieve?” As much as I adore her, I am just not home that much because I work during the day, and I worry that she is now bored and lonely.

Should I think about adopting another cat to keep her company?

Alex

Dear Alex,

Buddy and I are both so sorry about Squiggles, and we are certain that he did not know that his name was ludicrous. Trust me on this.

To answer your question, it doesn’t help much to worry about whether pets grieve.

The real question is, are they happy, and if not, what can you do about it?  So a couple of things to think about. Has Sophie’s behavior changed recently to make you think she is unhappy?

Is she gaining weight for lack of exercise? If not, and if she seems happy to see you and behaves appropriately when you are home together, then there may not be a problem.

Remember that cats sleep many hours per day and that is, in all likelihood, what she is doing while you are gone. So don’t let yourself be wracked by guilt over the fact that she is home alone. You probably have lots of other things to feel guilty about.

That said, there can be benefits to having more than one cat. Cats  can provide each other with exercise, social interaction, and mental stimulation.

Cats that have lots of opportunity to socialize and play with each other are less likely to be destructive (or just plain annoying).

For example, some single cats relentlessly  try to wake their owners during the night to play with  them. Two cats might still race  around the house at  night but at least they won’t expect their owner to get up and join them.

Another benefit of having two cats is that they will groom each other’s ears and coats, often getting at places they can’t reach on their own! And cats at peace with each other are just plain nice to watch.

But, and it’s a big BUT,  changing from a one cat to a multi-cat household is not always easy. Cats can take a very long time to learn to like each other.

You’ll need to consider such factors as age and sociability differences when choosing a new cat for your household.

A kitten or adolescent cat that has been around other older cats and that likes to  play may be a good choice for Sophie. She might turn into teenager herself.

Or maybe she can teach a bratty teenager how to behave. Whatever you decide, remember that it will probably take time.

Space is an absolute necessity for multiple-cat homes. Cats always need to have spots for hiding, so they can be alone and undisturbed whenever they feel the need.

You can never have too many cat perches (and toys and scratching posts) all over the house. Multiple litter boxes are also advisable, so that each cat can feel safe while eliminating.

The number of litter boxes should equal the number of cats you have, plus one. So, if you have two cats, you will need three boxes. Food and water can be placed in a common area, as cats seem to enjoy eating in groups.

Should you decide to make yours a multiple-feline household, please keep in mind that your cats are not likely to be best buddies immediately. There are no guarantees, and it’s always best to be cautious when introducing cats to each other.

The Humane Society had detailed instructions for how to do that. And if you are adopting a cat who has already lived in a group in a foster home, consider adopting one of his or her friends.

Introducing two friends to a new home can ease the transition, and you’ll be much more likely to make Sophie part of a happy sociable group. Plus you’ll be giving two needy cats their very own forever home.  What could be better than that?

Good luck and thanks for being such a caring owner.

Porky

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Phone 207-1070. Porky & Buddy are two former animals at the shelter who answers humans’ questions about animals.

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