And then there was
October 10, 2018 4:17 PM   Subscribe

How do we go from two cats to one cat?

Yesterday, we had two cats...our elderly, 18-year-old Juneau and frisky, 13-year-old Edison. Overnight, our girl passed away, and we're left with only Edison.

This is the first time Edison will be alone. He was born into a cat hoarding situation, moved to our house which, at one time, was home to five cats. Over the years the cats have grown older and passed away, and now Edison is by himself for the first time ever. When we got home this evening he was waiting by the door, and he's been kind of clingy this evening.

I'm worried that he'll be lonely during the day while we're at work and school. At this point we CANNOT get another cat - my husband is allergic, and while we agreed to honor the commitment we made to our cats, we decided not to get any more after they were all gone. I'm looking for ways to help Edison feel better that do NOT involve getting another cat (or dog). Is there another pet we could get to keep him company? Something we could do? Special toys to keep him busy? Or will this just fade with time?
posted by christinetheslp to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely give him some time. Maybe it'll be obvious in a few months that you need to take some kind of action to give him more stimulation (and you may have to up his exercise opportunities), entertainment, or secure feelings, but it might also turn out that he's fine. It's only been a day, let him have some space to figure out his new normal, just make yourself available for engagement and let him work it out.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:23 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

It will fade with time, in my experience. I've gone from two cats to one cat several times at this point, and the one cat always seems to do OK in the end. Your cat may vary, but my experience has been that cats do just fine by themselves, thanks.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:25 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've been through this twice. Both times the remaining cat was really clingy at first, and seemed to transfer the role of "lead cat" to me. For example, where they used to sleep with the other cat, they started sleeping on my bed. It seemed to ease off with time.
posted by rudd135 at 4:26 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I agree with the above, and also, some of it is framing? "Clingy" cats can read as sad/lonely if you impose that on them, but you know, people frame it differently when the dog is really excited to see them at the end of the day, and your cat's probably far happier alone than a dog is. I have three cats and they're all "clingy" in the sense that they're bonded more to me than to the other cats, but I'd never say any of them seem unhappy. By which I mean, they're all noisily miserable about how much I don't pet them every moment I'm home, but they're really secretly fine.
posted by Sequence at 4:47 PM on October 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

Condolences on the loss of Juneau.

My mom had two cats, one an outgoing male and the other a very quiet female. They were brother and sister and had always been together all their lives; they got along well and seemed to be quite bonded. But when the male cat passed away, the female really blossomed. She started playing (she was well into her geriatric years at this point and even as a young cat hadn't played much) and became much more outgoing and loving with my mom. We said that she was always meant to be an only cat.

So that's just to say that you never can tell how a cat is really feeling about having a friend or not. As others said above, give it some time and see how Edison adjusts to being an only cat.
posted by Preserver at 5:02 PM on October 10, 2018 [8 favorites]

It will probably be fine. Give him and yourselves some time, give him some extra love and playtime, he’ll likely adjust just fine. He’ll probably sleep most of the time you’re at work. You could hook him up with a TV playing cat videos while you’re away, or one of those treat dispensers that’s a puzzle to keep him occupied, but cats gonna cat, so there’s a pretty good chance he’ll just ignore that stuff.

There are some cats who really, really can’t handle being only cats. If several weeks have gone by and he’s really distressed, it might be time to consider whether he’s capable of being an only cat, but I would suggest you not fret about it until then.

My experience with my one cat who could not be alone was that it was really unmistakeable, constant yowling and frantically checking and rechecking his catfriend’s favorite spaces, even after several weeks had passed. None of my other cats have ever reacted that way to the loss of a cat. Mostly they act a little weird for a couple of days and then they’re fine. Sometimes they’re even happier.

Wait and see, and meanwhile just be kind to him and yourselves.
posted by Stacey at 5:04 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

If Edison used to curl up with Juneau to sleep, see if he wants to nap and/or spend the night with you.

Similarly, if there was a particular way of playing they had (chasing? tussling?), sort of replicate it with toys.
posted by kapers at 7:16 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

It will probably be fine. Give him and yourselves some time, give him some extra love and playtime, he’ll likely adjust just fine.


My boy Scruff has outlived a few comcatriots, and it has upset him each time, but a bit of extra love and attention goes a long way.

My condolences to you and yours.
posted by pompomtom at 10:06 PM on October 10, 2018

I just want to say that Edison is so handsome and cosy in that photo.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:48 AM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

My orange cat Max passed away in early July leaving Bentley as a solo cat for the first time ever. We've adjusted but I definitely found that Bentley is much more snuggley than he was previously. Where he used to get Max snuggles, now it is all up to me. But otherwise, he's been okay after the first couple weeks of confusion.
posted by machine at 6:58 AM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

So sorry. Going through that change here too. The best thing seems to be a concentrated effort for daily play time. It's turned my newly solo 11 year old into a crazy kitten. If I forget, he reminds me. It's been great bonding for both of us, a good distraction, and helps replace the interaction he used to get from his buddy (they loved stalking each other). We do about 45-60 minutes every night. Pure, focused play time.

Re: cat play, Jackson Galaxy explains that play is not just active chasing and pouncing. Even if the cat is just attentively watching you move the string/feather/ball/what have you, so long as the cat is involved in faux hunting activities, it's play. Just adding this because I used to always equate play with lots physical motion. Now that I understand that better, I think we are both getting more out of the activity.
posted by quarterframer at 9:15 AM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've gone through this process twice, one currently. My older cat Lucy had to be put to sleep in late July, leaving the younger (16, but yes younger) cat Lloyd by himself for the first time since he came to live with me as a kitten. It has been hard. To make things worse, we went on vacation for a week shortly thereafter, and about a month later, he went completely blind. He spends a lot of time crying and mewling and yodeling, including all times of the day and night. My partner and I try to give him lots of food and treats and love and attention, but he takes a long time to settle in and doesn't want to be a lap or chest cat as much as he used to. We have resorted to giving him very small dosages of benzos (which is totally a thing for cats), with unclear results.

So it may go ok, it may not. Cats, in my experience, do not deal well with change, especially as they get older. Give Edison time and lots of love and extra treats.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:51 PM on October 11, 2018

I was so glad to have cat #2 while going through the terror of cat #1 getting sick and passing within a few months (at a relatively young age). While we were collapsed in grief, we gave him all the snuggles and stayed in bed too much.

We waited about 6 months before we got cat #3 and I feel like that was about right, and we did it because our remaining cat is super needy. Some cats are okay without a companion, ymmv of course.
posted by getawaysticks at 4:36 PM on October 14, 2018

« Older Decembering in Japan for Non-Skier   |   Range maps for crypozoological creatures Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments