BaxterBoo Blog
June 8, 2012

Single Cat Syndrome - Why Your Cat Might Need a Buddy

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Does your cat nip and bat at you as you walk by? Does your fabulous feline sometimes turn ferocious unexpectedly, even when being petted? If your cat is rather unpredictably aggressive with you and is your only cat, it may be what's called "single cat syndrome."

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.

Smooth Transitions

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.

Amber on June 8 at 12:20 PM said:

another idea if adopting another cat isn't an option: fostering! if the cost of caring for another cat is what would keep you from adopting another, most rescues pay for food, medical care, and sometimes even litter for their fosters. you're helping save the lives of homeless kitties, and your own kitty gets buddies to socialize and play with!
Mary on June 8 at 12:41 PM said:

That's a great idea, Amber! I was actually considering this myself! :)
Looking Out The Window on June 9 at 9:44 AM said:

Oh I wish for another cat so bad. I would love for Abby to have another cat!
Amber on June 11 at 12:32 PM said:

go for it! it's "kitten season" right now, a time of year when rescue groups find themselves positively overwhelmed with kittens and can really use all the fosters they can get. sure, it can be hard to let them go sometimes when they get adopted, but there will never be a shortage of animals in need, and as charitable as fostering is, i'd be lying if i said that it's a completely unselfish thing. coming home to precious, purry, playful little balls of fluff every day? love it!
Joanne Curtis on July 18 at 8:27 PM said:

I wrote an article on cats personalities and talking with body language. I always felt some cats could be very stubborn or stand offish, but, I never realized how much they do speak with their body movements.
Julia Austin on July 3 at 1:29 PM said:

Hi I am Julia Austin, a professor of Maths from Lahore, Pakistan. I adopted a stray/street kitten that was abandoned somehow. Took her in now she is 4months old, but I guess she needs a playmate. I see another stary/street kitten (a male cat) everyday though I do give him plenty of food where He lives but not sure if I should take him in? As he is a male cat eventually will spray... And mine is a 4month old cat and he might be just a month old. Quite confused I really want to help both of them but am unsure.
Mary at on July 3 at 4:18 PM said:

Hi Julia, Do you have access to spay/neuter services? If so, it would be important to make sure both kitties are sterilized to ensure you don't have too many kittens to take care of. Also, if neutered early enough, the male cat is less likely to spray when he gets older. Kittens are social animals and will likely learn to enjoy each other's company. I'd definitely give a new little one a try. How nice that you help street kitties!

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