Single Cat Syndrome is a condition where a cat become frustrated, anxious, or just plain wound up without an outlet. While it's true that some cats prefer to be the only cat, most cats do better with another cat to keep them company. The nipping and scratching are normal cat-to-cat behaviors, but they don't translate so well to us non-furry humans!
The easiest, most obvious thing to do would be to get another cat. This must be done with care, however. Ideally, you will select one from a shelter (since it is National Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, after all.) Consider your cat's personality and gender. A younger, smaller cat will probably not threaten your existing cat and create less territorial posturing. Try to select similar dispositions. But sometimes a cat chooses you, or cats simply get thrown together through human changes such as new roommates, or romantic relationships. Either way, here are some tips for easing any relational tension.
A new cat should be isolated to one room for 7-10 days while the existing cat has the run of the house. This is helpful to ensure there are no contagions that could be passed to either cat. This also allows the cats to become familiar with the sounds and scents of each other before meeting, which tends to smooth out the first encounter considerably. This also works well for acclimating cats to other species like dogs. Make sure you spend lots of quality time with your first cat during the isolation period so that he/she associates the new smells and sounds of the new cat with positive attention. Eventually, you may introduce the new cat within a carrier to the other cat and judge the response. When the introduction response becomes neutral or calmly interested, a barrier-free meeting may be in order. Trust your read on the mood between the cats.
My cats Cali and Miss Boo made a very smooth transition with these suggestions, and they are very close friends. They enjoy sleeping together, grooming each other, playing, and sometimes fighting, which are all family-like activities, for sure! They are content from all the mental stimulation they get from each other, which is pretty important for indoor cats, especially.
Other Options (If Adopting Another Cat Isn't Possible)
Try bringing over a leashed cat-friendly dog for a visit. This will give an amped-up cat something to watch, to ponder, and to expend lots of mental energy towards. This is energy they won't be applying to your ankles. So this is good! The cat and dog may become friends over time.
Another idea might be to hire a cat-loving youth with creative ideas for playing with your cat. Always use cat toys to protect human hands and to teach your cat what is appropriate to play with. These hunting/playing regular activities will keep your cat's instinct honed to areas that are healthy, instead of acting out on unsuspecting guardians.
Have you had better luck with multiple cats? Any more ideas for keeping a single cat happy?
Featured photo by Aunt Owwee.