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Can I Have Only One Cat? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

platinum burmese cat

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you know anything about cats, you probably know that, for the most part, they are solitary animals that spend a lot of time on their own. That, however, doesn’t negate the fact that cats are also social animals and like to be around other cats and humans from time to time. Many believe having only one cat in your home isn’t a good idea, but is that true or just an urban myth?

The truth is, having a single one poses no harm to a cat, and most will get along just fine as long as their human treats them with plenty of TLC. Are you curious to learn more about what it is like only to have one cat, plus the advantages and drawbacks? If so, read on! We have excellent information, tips, and advice about owning one cat!

hepper-cat-paw-dividerIs It Harmful to Have One Cat Only?

Moat cat experts and veterinarians agree that a single cat won’t be harmed by growing up and living alone if raised with love, attention, and care. A single cat can live alone as they are often solitary animals, but they need some attention. That should be provided by you as much as possible so that your cat doesn’t develop some of the supposed (but not proven) syndromes that can happen to a single cat, like “single-cat syndrome,” which is also known as “Tarzan syndrome.”

white ragdoll cat walking indoor
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

Is It Better to Have One Cat or Two?

While a cat can certainly live in a home without other cats, many cat experts and vets still recommend adopting at least two cats rather than just one. wo cats that have a special relationship are often referred to as a “bonded pair.” From all reports, this is good for both cats. Below are three reasons why adopting a bonded pair of cats is better than a single feline.

1. Bonded Cat Pairs Seem Better Adjusted

At least from anecdotal evidence, a bonded pair of cats are better adjusted than single cats, with fewer behavioral problems noted.

two domestic cats sleep together on the sofa
Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

2. Bonded Cats Live Longer

Cats are social animals, as we know, and love playing with, entertaining, and snuggling with other cats. This helps them feel safer, too, and many bonded cat pairs live longer lives.

3. Bonded Pairs Teach Each Other

Cats learn life skills throughout life, but without another cat, they might learn the wrong lessons. To prevent that, it’s better to have a bonded pair.

Two devon rex cats sitting on the scratching post
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock


Will One Cat be Lonely in Your Home?

The answer to this question depends on many factors, including how many hours you spend at home, how much time you spend with your cat, and several more. If you can spend plenty of time with your cat, maybe from working at home or being retired, the likelihood they will become lonely without another cat around is low.

On the other hand, if you’ve always gone and your cat is home alone most of the day, it can become lonely. That’s when it’s a good idea to consider adopting a 2nd cat as a playmate and companion.

A sad beautiful silver fold Scottish cat with huge amber eyes, full of stress
Image Credit: Lia Koltyrina, Shutterstock


What Is Single-Cat Syndrome?

Single cat syndrome, also known as Tarzan syndrome, isn’t a proven syndrome but more an idea that when a kitten is raised alone, it’s less likely to grow into a well-adjusted cat. Cats suffering from single-cat syndrome develop several problematic habits, including biting their owners and consciously avoiding their litter box when it’s time to go potty.

Many cats with single-cat syndrome get into destructive behavior like chewing and scratching on things around the house, including furniture, curtains, etc. Cats with single-cat syndrome can also suffer from separation anxiety because they need to be around their owners as much as possible.

What Is “Tarzan Syndrome” in Cats?

The classic literary character Tarzan, introduced by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, was raised alone by wolves rather than humans. When he was finally introduced to humans, if you recall, Tarzan was unsure of how to act, often aggressive, and unable to express himself in a traditional human way.

The same thing happens to cats that are raised alone, which is why a cat with the single-cat syndrome is also said to have Tarzan syndrome. What is the best solution for this unusual syndrome with a famous name? Introduce a “Jane” (or Jim) into your single cat (or kitten’s) world as early as possible.hepper-single-cat-paw-divider-e1614923017121

How Can You Tell if Your Cat Is Lonely & Needs a Friend?

Today, we’ve seen that cats can be raised alone (with lots of TLC) but do well in bonded pairs. That begs the question of how to tell if your cat is OK alone or lonely. Below are a few telltale signs that your favorite feline might be lonely.

  • Your cat is very clingy and needy, often to the extreme.
  • Your cat stops grooming.
  • Your cat’s eating habits change drastically. Either they eat too much or very little.
  • You notice your cat suddenly engaging in destructive behavior, like clawing at the sofa.
  • The litter box suddenly seems off-limits as your cat does its business in other areas of the house.
  • Your cat starts sleeping much more than usual (and ignoring you more).
  • Your cat’s energy level seems to have dropped off a cliff (and they’re young and healthy).
sad lonely cat
Image Credit: medveda, Shutterstock

How to Introduce a New Cat Into Your Household

Introducing a new cat into a cat’s home must be done correctly so that neither cat gets too stressed out. Below are the steps to correctly introduce a new cat with few or little problems into your household.

  • Step 1: When you bring your second cat home, separate both cats for a few days, including their litter boxes, toys, beds, etc. Keeping your new cat in a spare bedroom or spare bathroom is perfect.
  • Step 2: Rub a towel on both cats and let each one smell the scent of the other. This is an excellent way to “introduce” your cats without actually introducing them. Rub a towel gently on your new cat, and let your existing cat smell the scent while you offer some treats. Do the same for your current cat, and let your new cat smell it. Do this for 2 or 3 days.
  • Step 3: Place both of your cats’ food and water bowls on opposite sides of the door where your new cat is being kept. The sound, smell, and movement from both will be an introduction but without the possible hissing, growling, and fighting.
  • Step  4: Allow your new cat to roam around your home on his or her own while keeping your existing cat in a room alone.  After a bit, switch the cats and let your current cat do the same.
  • Step 5: Open the door between where both cats are being kept and allow them to see each other. Remember, hissing and growling are normal. However, if one cat tries to smack the other, close the door and try again later. You can do this several times a day until your cats become used to each other.
  • Step 6:  Once your cats seem to have become used to each other, let them roam around your house together. Keep a close eye on both cats while you do, and offer them treats if they are acting calm and friendly toward each other. Separate them again for a couple of extra days if either one gets angry, stressed, or anxious.
  • Step 7: If your cats seem to like each other and respect each other, you can leave them alone when you leave the house. If not, you should separate them when you do so that you don’t come back to a big mess (or a wounded cat).

Final Thoughts

If you were wondering about having only one cat and if it’s harmful, you now know that it’s not. However, you also know that having two cats can be a better choice as cats are social creatures and might be happier and healthier with another cat around to keep them company. Many believe cats raised and kept alone from other cats develop Tarzan syndrome, acting out because they don’t know the proper cat etiquette. That said, there are millions of happy, content single cats in the United States, which proves that they can do OK on their own. Whether adopting one cat, two, or a dozen, we wish you the best of luck keeping them happy, healthy, and purring loudly.

Featured Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock

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