Would Having Only One Cat Be Cruel?

You thought to bring home a cat, but you worry how you may need two cats to keep the first cat company.

Is it cruel to have only one cat? Even if you only chose to bring home a single cat, don’t think of this as inhumane. Cats do require some social attention, but as long as you don’t leave him home alone for two days or longer, your cat should be fine even alone. Age plays a role in this as well. Kittens require more attention.

If you’d like to learn more about why it isn’t cruel to only have a single cat, keep reading. We will also suggest some ways to make your cat feel more comfortable at home.

Age: Younger Kittens May Need a Playmate

Kittens do require more time and care than an adult cat. Leaving them alone for longer than five hours would be cruel, so you may want to get him a playmate. Adult cats, on the other hand, can be left home alone for 24 to 48 hours without a problem.

If you’d like to learn about some of the disadvantages of having a cat, I wrote about that here. This can help you to decide if you should get a cat.

Cruel to Have a Single Cat? Depends on the Cat…

Some cats do better with a playmate because of personality. Each cat differs. With a playmate, they have someone that they can play with when bored, and in fact, it can liven up a cat to get them a friend.

Unfortunately, playing with the cat all the time can prove difficult because you will have busy moments where you can’t give him the attention that he deserves.

You also have some cats that act indifferent to you. They don’t seem to care either way. Other cats need more love and affection, or they start to become lonely.

Some cats have the wrong personality for being an only cat, and it would be cruel to keep them at home this way. You can mitigate the problem by bringing home a second cat, which will resolve the issue in most cases.

Plenty of Cat Owners Only Have One Cat

You see plenty of cat owners who only have a single cat. As long as you don’t go away for extended periods of time, this wouldn’t be seen as cruel to the cat.

One cat might love the company of other cats, but some cats even prefer not sharing attention with their paw mom or paw father.

You do have one disadvantage in only having a single cat in that if the cat dies, the home feels more lonely. A second cat can help you to share the grief, and he acts as a source of comfort during that difficult season. Unfortunately, cats have a much shorter lifespan in comparison to humans.

Older Cats vs Kittens: Getting a New Cat

Older cats that lived alone for years may take to a new cat less quickly than a kitten. Kittens tend to be more open to this. In fact, they might welcome it because they can look to their companion when they feel alone. The other cat also provides him with some much-needed playtime. An older cat usually feels more confident in themselves.

With an older cat, it depends on his personality. One older cat might take well to others, but you have others less accepting of their new roommate. If you wanted a single cat, this is the type of cat that you want to get.

It would be best not to get a kitten if you will leave it home alone all day. Kittens, especially younger ones, shouldn’t be alone for longer than five hours. This ensures that they don’t become lonely.

With an older cat, you have an advantage in that what you see is what you get. You know what its temperament looks like. Kittens may develop a different temperament later from their playful one.

Beware of Social Cat Breeds for Loner Cats

If you wanted a lone cat, don’t choose a social cat breed like the Siamese. Other social cat breeds to avoid if you want a single cat include:

  • Persian
  • Ragdoll
  • Tonkinese
  • Exotic shorthair
  • Burmese
  • Turkish Angora
  • Bombay cat

Cats like this love social contact with other cats, and they have a friendly nature. They may not do as well by themselves. That doesn’t mean that they can’t, but their nature is more slanted toward being social. and it would be better to avoid.

How to Support a Lone Cat

Even if you have a cat inclined to being by himself, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t support him. For example, cats are social creatures, and even two days by themselves or longer can start to make them feel lonely.

For example, keep toys around the home as a way to busy your cat when he’s by himself. You will also want to allow for cuddling time to make him feel loved. Even being close in the same room can go a long way to making your cat feel less lonely.

Give him plenty of playtime. If you have a child, along with the benefits for the child, the cat will receive plenty of attention. Cats and kids go together like macaroni and cheese. I wrote about the benefits of getting a child a cat here if interested.

Does Your Cat Need Another Cat to Be Happy?

The biggest thing to remember about any cat, whether one or two cats is to play with them. Having two cats isn’t an excuse not to pay attention to them. You also want to foster a fun and inviting atmosphere that begs exploration. This type of place will keep your cat in constant intrigue.

How to Keep a Single Cat Happy

Let’s say that you can’t bring home a second cat because of restrictions on your apartment lease. How do you keep a single cat happy? First, be sure to give him lots of love and attention. What he doesn’t receive with another cat, he will have to receive from you.

Second, create a kitty playground that keeps him busy. Don’t be afraid to have fun with it. Cats love climbing things and scratching posts. Even carpet squares glued to shelves can make your cat happy as a single cat.

The stimulating environment will also keep him entertained when you’re not around. Showing him the outside world or even giving him time in the outside world can entertain him. Many interesting things and smells outside such as squirrels, birds and bugs can all grab the attention of your eager feline.

When you’re not around, he won’t have time to think about being lonely.

Fill the Home with Cat Toys

Along with introducing him to the great outdoors (even through a window perch), you can also fill the home with toys. This provides him with a stimulating environment that he can play in. Some of the toys that I would recommend include:

  • Food puzzles
  • Battery powered teasers
  • Interactive puzzles
  • Rotating cat teasers
  • Catnip
  • Cat feather toy
  • Swimming robot fish

Toys will counteract destructive boredom in your cat. Your cat will also have the opportunity to bond and play. Play is one of the ways that cats hone their hunting skills.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for your cat to bond with his toys as if they were his offspring. In particular, this happens for cats that didn’t get a lot of interaction with other cats, such as single cats. The toys will fill in this gap of having another cat while it comforts him. It works similar to how a stuffed toy would work for a child.

Should You Get Two Cats?

If possible, get two cats. Not only is it more fun for you, but two cats lower the risk that your other cat will feel bored. He will simply be happier than if alone. You do have exceptions to this rule, such as a cat that was traumatized by other cats, but for the most part, cats like having a playmate.

If you decide to adopt a cat from the shelter, ask about his temperament beforehand. You can learn ahead of time if he would be suited as a single cat.

Cat Breed That Don’t Mind Being the Only Cat

You do have some cat breeds that even prefer alone time. This type of cat would be ideal for circumstances where you can’t get a second cat and you worry about loneliness. This breed of cat can handle it better than some of the other breeds. They include:

  • Russian Blue
  • Scottish Fold
  • American Wirehair
  • American Shorthair
  • Ocicat
  • Norwegian Forest Cat

Keep in mind, even these cats will still require love and affection, but they can handle being the only cat better than other breeds like the Tonkinese or the Siamese cat breed.

Do cats get lonely if you only have one? As long as you don’t go away for extended periods, your cat will do fine as a single cat. It depends on the personality to some degree, but most cats can adjust to being the only cat in the home. Some may even prefer it as long as they still receive love and attention.

Are cats happier in pairs? Generally speaking, if you can get two cats instead of one, you will have happier cats. Cats are social creatures, and having two cats lets them play together. Doubling the cats also socializes them and teaches them how to behave.

Is it better to have two cats or one? When possible, it is advisable to have multiple cats. It provides your cat with a playmate, and he tends to feel happier with a buddy. Not all cats will get along, so you need to think of personality when getting a cat.


As we said before, plenty of people only keep a single cat in the home and it does fine. In fact, I keep only one cat in the home, and he does fine. Of course, I’m a writer by profession, which means he’s rarely totally alone for long, unlike people who may need to work a 12-hour shift.

You have different reasons why someone might only get one cat. Maybe it has to do with the apartment that they live in won’t allow more, or they simply can’t afford a second cat.

Don’t worry because one cat won’t be a problem in most cases. It’d be great if you brought him home a playmate, but you don’t necessarily need two cats.

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