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Can Cats Have Play Dates? Feline Social Behavior Explained

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

Cats on the Playing Ground

Friendship isn’t just beneficial to humans; your cat can also get something positive out of the company of other cats. This is especially true if your cat lives alone because chances are it doesn’t even get to see other cats, never mind interacting with them.

So the answer is, yes! A play date allows your cat to socialize and burn off some energy. Before you rush out and set up your first play date, there are some details to consider to ensure it goes smoothly.

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Do Cats Need Socialization?

Cats are much more social than you might realize, especially at a young age. They’re curious animals, and play dates help feed this natural curiosity. Socialization, whether introducing your cat to other cats, animals, or humans, is an integral part of their overall health because cats who aren’t socialized might become timid or aggressive. They might also have difficulty living with or meeting other humans, pets, or cats.

Play dates are most successful with kittens, and they are pretty easy to socialize until they’re around 14 weeks old, so make sure you take advantage of this window! If you have a friendly, outgoing older cat, they could also be a candidate for play dates.

White and brown cat sitting on a carpet approaches a brown cat lying down to smell its head
Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

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How To Set up a Play Date

When planning the play date, you must ensure the animals stay happy and safe.

1. Match the Cats’ Personalities

For a successful play date, carefully consider the personality and introduce the cats slowly. If you have a timid cat, you’re not going to partner them with a boisterous cat because this might intimidate them.

2. Ensure Both Cats Are Healthy

Image Credit: Georgy Dzyura, Shutterstock

You know what it’s like when you’re feeling bad, and the last thing you want to do is socialize. Well, that is the same for your cat. Some cats may be more demanding or clingy when unwell, while others might become withdrawn and hide. So, going on a play date would be the last thing they’d enjoy.

There’s also the risk of transferring illnesses from one cat to another. Your cat and the potential playmate should be feeling well, up to date with their vaccinations, and on flea preventatives.

3. Choose a Neutral Location

Choose a neutral location for both cats so they haven’t marked the space with their scent. Make the introductions gradually. It’s best to allow the cats to sniff one another under a door and then progress to seeing each other. Keep an eye out for signs that the cats are comfortable, like a relaxed posture.

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Things To Look Out For

Two young ginger and brown cats fighting in the garden
Image Credit: Mariya Ilmaz, Shutterstock

Ideally, your cat will have the best time, and you’ll take home a tired, happy kitty. But sometimes, the best of intentions will not work out, and you can look for signs that your cat isn’t having a good time. Signs of an annoyed cat are:

  • Crouching or ducking the head into the shoulders
  • Ears turned back
  • Frequent attempts to move away
  • Low-pitched meowing or hissing
  • Swishing tail

Just because a play date fails doesn’t mean all future play dates will. It might be that the cats’ personalities clash, or you’ve picked the wrong location. Or your cat might not be in the mood for company. You can always try again, but be aware of cues from your cat that they’re not having a good time because you don’t want annoyance to turn into anger.

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Final Thoughts

Cat play dates are not only possible, but they can be beneficial. It’s best to start young, which works out well because kittens are particularly curious. Early socialization means it’s less likely that your cat will grow to become timid or aggressive.

Socialization doesn’t mean only introducing your cat to other cats, so if you live in a house with other animals or have friends around regularly, it will also help your cat with their social skills!

Featured Image Credit: Arina Krasnikova, Pexels

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