How much, and what sort of companionship does your cat need?
In general, cats like the company of humans. If they are well looked after in their infancy, kittens quickly learn that people are their friends and companions in everyday life.
Although they tend to spend a large part of the day asleep, when they are awake they love spending time playing with us. Indeed, it is even more than this. A lack of company may even result in the onset of depression – a lonely, sad cat can quickly lose its appetite or become overly greedy and lethargic. In serious cases it may be necessary to prescribe antidepressants in order to re-establish normality.
If we can set up an interesting environment for cats at home then it is far more likely that they will not damage the furniture and carpets – and they will not spend time sharpening their claws and teeth on them out of boredom. Add toys, cat furniture, a climbing frame and scratching post to the flat. Cats love watching what is going on out of the window, so you can buy or make a cat bed especially for this purpose that can be fitted to the window sill or a cat hammock that can be attached to the wall. Your cat will also be fascinated by an aquarium filled with brightly coloured fish (naturally the aquarium should have a cat-proof, fitted top), and there are even DVDs available with recordings of things that will catch the eye of any cat (birds, squirrels etc.). These will keep your pet engaged while you are away from home.
If, in order to ward off boredom, you decide to get another cat to join your established pet, give thorough consideration to how it will react. Choose a cat of a similar personality and age, and ask your local vet for advice on how to get the two pets used to each other. Frequently you will find that two cats only accept each other if they have been living together since their earliest days, so if this familiarization process proves unsuccessful, you have to be able to provide the newcomer with a separate space in which to live. If you decide on having two cats of different sexes and you don’t want, or cannot handle, an unexpected litter of kittens, then you must give consideration to neutering them.
Tips on companionship for your cats:
1. If your cat likes the company of humans, then make sure that there is always someone available who can look after your pet if you leave home for a longer period or will be far from home.
2. If you are going to be travelling, get a friend to visit your pet, not only to feed it but also to play with it for 15-20 minutes. This will keep your cat fit both mentally and physically.
3. Don’t force your cat to join other animals or humans if you can see he/she does not like the situation. If you want to introduce your cat to a dog or other pet, do it gradually.
4. Add toys and cat furniture to your flat, always make sure your cat has somewhere to climb and if you can manage it, find a place where he/she can safely look out of the window.
5. A large proportion of cats prefer being the only cat in the house, therefore you should only bring a new cat into the household after serious consideration. If you decide to do this, it is important that you should try to select a cat of a similar age and personality.
6. If your cat begins to show signs of behavioural disorders, do not hesitate to ask for advice from your local vet.