Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Is It Cruel to Have Only One Cat? Tips for Keeping a Single Cat Happy

Vet approved

	Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

If you’re considering adding a feline friend to your family, you might have heard that it’s better to adopt or buy two cats instead of one. Two cats are double the work and twice the expense, so is it necessary to have more than one? Don’t worry; it’s not cruel to have only one cat if you’re able to give them the attention they need each day.

In this article, we’ll tell you why some cats may prefer to be an only (fur) child, plus how to keep your solo kitty happy and fulfilled. If you want to add another cat to the family, keep reading to learn how to choose the right companion for your pet and tips for successfully introducing the new pet.

3 cat face divider

All By Myself: Why Cats Are Okay Flying Solo

While cats can form strong bonds within their family group, the same won’t be true for other kitties that they aren’t related to. Many adult cats are perfectly fine living alone because they’ll never adapt to sharing their space with another cat. Their human family can fulfill these cats’ emotional and social needs.

Adopting a pair of unrelated adult cats may actually be crueler than keeping one. They may take weeks or months to adjust to living together, and some never will. The stress could lead to behavioral or even physical issues.

white cat with the owner
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

How to Keep Your Only Cat Happy

Whether you have one cat or several, they’ll all need attention from you each day. Solo cats should have plenty of opportunities for physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and fulfilled.

Provide your cat with plenty of toys and make time to play with them each day. The physical activity will help them stay fit, and you’ll both benefit from the time to bond. Make sure your cat has safe scratching materials, and consider adding vertical space like cat trees or shelves.

Your cat may also enjoy a window perch and the opportunity to observe birds and wildlife outside. If you need to leave your cat alone frequently, consider hiring a pet sitter or asking a friend to stop by and play with your kitty during the day.

Playing Matchmaker: How to Choose a New Friend for Your Cat


As a health precaution, always quarantine a new pet away from your existing fur kid for a period of at least 2 weeks. During this time, ensure you don’t share bowls, litter boxes, toys, beds, and other tools (example: nail clippers) between the two individuals. Thoroughly wash your hands before and after you interact with each cat.

The new addition to your family might be harboring an illness that could spread to your existing fur baby if you rush an introduction. A period of at least 2 weeks allows each cat to familiarize themselves with the other’s scent, while also giving you ample time to observe the new comer to see if they develop signs of an illness.

Ensure your veterinarian gives your new addition a thorough checkup before attempting a physical introduction with your existing pet. It is ideal to have potential newcomers checked by your vet both at the start and end of their quarantine period.

Adult cats often adapt more easily to a kitten, so consider adopting a young animal if possible. Just because your cat gets along with one cat doesn’t mean they will with another, so stick with adding only one.

Regardless of the cats’ ages, try to match their personality types. A shy, quiet cat might be overwhelmed by a more active, playful housemate and vice versa. You stand a better chance of the two cats getting along if they have similar personalities.

two cats playing
Image Credit: AdinaVoicu, Pixabay

Tips for Introducing a New Cat to Your Home

It can be hard to predict how your cat will react to another kitty joining the family ahead of time. To help the introduction go as smoothly as possible, take things slowly and monitor both cats for any signs of stress, such as:

  • Hiding
  • Peeing in unusual locations
  • Walking low to the ground
  • Growling, hissing, or other vocalizing
  • Body tension
  • Puffed tail or fur standing on end

Keep the two cats separate and allow them to get used to each other’s scent first. Try swapping their beds after a few days or feeding them on either side of a closed door. Offer treats or other rewards when either cat behaves calmly as they smell each other.

Once the cats get used to each other’s smell, start letting them see each other from a distance. For example, keep one cat in a portable pen or behind another see-through barrier. Build positive associations by continuing to feed or play with the cats in each other’s presence.

Eventually, you can let the cats spend time alone in each other’s space. Once they’re comfortable in each other’s territory, try letting them get closer to each other while still separated by a barrier. Continue to supervise their interactions until they both appear calm and relaxed.

Once that happens, allow the two cats to interact as they see fit. Make sure both cats have space to retreat whenever they are stressed. Spend time with the cats individually and together, so they don’t feel the need to compete for your attention.

feeding cat
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shuterstock

cat paw divider


Before you add any pet to your family, you should be prepared for the cost and time commitment necessary. Don’t feel pressured to commit to more than you can handle because you’re worried a single cat will be unhappy. Cats don’t naturally socialize outside of their family, so your new pet doesn’t necessarily need a friend unless you can adopt two kittens from the same litter. Your kitty will still need your attention and love, even if they live with another cat.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock