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Is it OK to have 1 cat?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is perfectly fine to have just one cat as a pet. While some people believe cats are happier living with other cats, a single cat can thrive when living with a human family that provides affection, playtime, proper nutrition, and adequate stimulation. With a good home environment and routine care, one cat can lead a very content, enriched life.

Is a Single Cat Lonely?

Some people worry that having just one cat is cruel because they believe cats are social animals that need companionship from other cats. It’s true that cats aren’t as solitary as some other domestic pets, like hamsters or fish. Feral and wild cats usually live in colonies and cats that live together get along well and play together.

However, that doesn’t mean a single indoor pet cat living with a human family will be lonely. While your cat may benefit from having a feline playmate, he can build strong bonds and fulfilling relationships with human family members. With proper care and interaction, a single cat in a home often shows no signs of loneliness or deprivation.

Signs of a Lonely Cat

How can you tell if your one cat is feeling isolated or unhappy living alone? Signs may include:

  • Excessive vocalizing like meowing, yowling, or crying
  • Aggressive behavior like biting or scratching
  • Destructive behaviors like clawing furniture
  • House soiling outside the litter box
  • Excessive grooming leading to bald spots or wounds from overgrooming
  • Hiding and unwillingness to interact with human family members
  • Depression or lethargy

If your solo cat is exhibiting multiple signs of distress or unhappiness, getting a second cat may help provide companionship and entertainment. But many single cats in loving homes don’t display these behaviors. As long as your cat seems content, a second cat isn’t mandatory for your pet’s wellbeing.

Providing a Good Life for a Single Cat

While cats may enjoy having other cats around, they form close attachments to their human caregivers and can lead fulfilling lives as the only pet. Here are some keys to keeping a single cat happy and healthy:

Give Plenty of Affection and Playtime

Spend quality time with your cat every day playing, petting, grooming, and snuggling. Dedicate at least 10-15 minutes twice a day to direct interaction and play with wand toys, laser pointers, balls, or other engaging toys to provide exercise and mental stimulation.

Ensure a Comfortable Routine

Cats feel secure with predictable routines for feeding, play, grooming, and sleep. Maintain consistent schedules and rituals. Make sure your cat has comfortable designated sleeping areas and scratching posts. Keep the litter box extremely clean. Try not to disrupt routines with frequent guests, parties, etc.

Provide Vertical Space

Cats love to climb and perch up high. Provide cat trees, shelves, window seats, or similar elevated spaces around your home. Place food, water, toys, and litter in separate locations to encourage movement.

Consider Puzzle Toys

Keep your cat mentally stimulated with puzzle feeders, treat balls, and interactive toys that make him work for food rewards and chase prey. Rotate different puzzles to prevent boredom. Hide treats around the house for him to hunt and find.

Supplement with Cat TV

Cat television programs featuring birds and prey animals can provide visual stimulation when you can’t directly interact. Also play bird and nature sounds to make the home environment more interesting.

Don’t Leave Him Alone for Too Long

While cats sleep 16 or more hours a day, long periods of isolation and nothing to do can still cause boredom, stress, or depression. Limit absences to under 10 hours when possible. Hire a pet sitter or consider daycare if you regularly work very long hours.

Watch for Medical Issues

Sudden behavior changes like vocalizing, agitation, or house soiling can indicate an underlying medical problem requiring veterinary attention. Have your vet examine your cat if he displays unusual behaviors.

Consider Getting a Second Cat (Carefully)

While not mandatory, some single cats enjoy having a feline companion. Try introducing your cat to friend’s/relative’s cats first. If it goes well, consider adopting a second cat with a personality and activity level that complements your resident cat. Introduce them slowly. Be prepared to keep them separate if they don’t get along.

Are Two Cats Better Than One?

There are some advantages to having two cats:

  • They provide companionship and entertainment for each other
  • They may groom, snuggle, and play together
  • You don’t have to be the sole source of interaction and stimulation
  • They have a playmate when you’re busy or away
  • They can learn social behavior from each other
  • They may be less likely to get into trouble from boredom

However, two cats also come with additional responsibilities:

  • More expensive food, medical, and supply costs
  • More frequent litter box scooping and cleaning
  • Dealing with conflicts if they don’t get along
  • More destructive capacity if bored
  • Twice the hair and shed fur to manage
  • Need for larger home environment

You’ll also need to introduce a new cat properly through slow acclimation so they can become comfortable with each other.

So while two cats can certainly enjoy each other’s company, one well-cared for cat can live just as happily alone in a home where he receives sufficient human interaction. It’s more a matter of your available time, resources, and willingness to manage multi-cat issues.

Should Kittens or Adult Cats Live Alone?

Kittens and adult cats have somewhat differing needs when living as solo pets:


Kittens are extremely playful, energetic, and inquisitive by nature. A pair of kittens are ideal since they play vigorously together and learn important social skills wrestling and interacting with another cat. However, a single kitten can do well living alone in a home that provides:

  • At least 30-60 minutes of active playtime per day
  • Interesting solo toys like treat balls and toy mice for independent play
  • Cat furniture and towers for climbing and hiding
  • Positive reinforcement training for mental stimulation
  • A predictable, comforting routine

Be prepared to spend more time keeping a lone kitten entertained and worn out. Consider adopting a young, energetic adult cat that may better tolerate being solo.

Adult Cats

Adult cats are usually calmer and more independent than kittens. An adult cat may happily accept being the only pet if he:

  • Gets 10-15 minutes of playtime with you twice daily
  • Has toys, cat furniture, and activities when alone
  • Is comfy with your home’s noise levels and action
  • Has established habits and routines he follows
  • Gets along well with human family members

A more laid-back adult cat may easily adapt to being your one constant feline companion.

Key Takeaways on Owning One Cat

To summarize key points on whether having a single cat is advisable:

  • One cat can live a very happy, fulfilling life as the only pet with proper care and interaction.
  • Provide your solo cat with playtime, cat furniture, puzzle toys, and a predictable routine.
  • Watch for signs of distress like vocalizing, aggression, hiding, or house soiling that may indicate loneliness.
  • Working long hours regularly or traveling frequently makes two cats preferable.
  • Kittens have more energy and may be better off paired, but energetic adults also work well alone.
  • Consider adding a second cat if your resident cat seems unhappy or anxious living solo.
  • Introduce new cats slowly and be prepared to keep them separate if they don’t get along.

While some cats thrive with feline companionship, one cat can live a very full, comfortable life as your solo pet with the right care and attention. Be attuned to your cat’s personality and needs. If he seems lonely or deprived, then adopting a compatible second cat may be advisable. But if your cat appears content, secure, and well-adjusted living alone with you, then there’s no need to add another cat to your happy home.


Having one cat can absolutely be suitable if you provide a loving home, frequent human interaction, and enrichment activities. While a second feline friend provides some advantages, a solo cat maintains close bonds with human family and can lead a very rewarding life as your one constant animal companion. Be attentive to your cat’s needs and signals; as long as your cat seems happy and healthy living alone with you, then one cat is an excellent option.