Single Cat Syndrome
When kitten buyers contact me, it’s my protocol to ask them a series of questions. I want to know more about their household, including other pets. It helps me to match kittens with prospective families based on their answers. There are times when I’m told an individual or a family has no other pets, but they want a Ragdoll kitten. My standard response is that Ragdolls do better with a kitty companion — either another kitten, young cat, puppy or young dog. There have been times when the buyer is adamently opposed to having two kittens. I want to make it especially clear that when I say Ragdolls do better with a kitty companion I don’t mean the other kitten necessarily needs to be a Ragdoll. I’ve had buyers add a kitten or young adult mixed breed kitty who needs a good home. Some opt for a different breed. Others do want two Ragdolls and I’ve always said that there’s nothing more special than two littermates going home together.
Then there are others who cannot be pursuaded and tell me they can give enough attention to their Ragdoll kitten on their own. Typically these are people who work from home or they are stay at home mothers or something similar where they are at home most of the time. I will agree to letting these kittens go as solo pets provided the new owner understands there might be trouble in the form of Single Cat Syndrome in the future. The problem, I find, is that there’s a space of 10 months to two years before the symptoms surface so the kitten buyer forgets my recommendation and I get a frantic phone call or an urgent email asking how I can help them with their out of control Ragdoll who used to be so sweet when they brought her home.
So what is Single Cat Syndrome? Obviously it involves a single cat. It’s basically a single cat who has too much time on their paws, or too active a mind, or who’s just plain lonely because human companionship isn’t always enough. The problem is the kitty is looking for a source to take out their pent up energy and/or frustration. Cats don’t play like people do, and when your cat starts playing with you as they would other cats you’re going to know it. A bored kitty can get into a lot of trouble. Sometimes it’s pulling books out of bookshelves, or opening cupboards and taking out the pots and pans. I’ve heard of one cat who started chewing the blinds all of a sudden once he turned two years old. Another young adult stopped using the litterbox. These are all signs of stress.
Other times the single cat will get physically destructive and bite/claw their owner. For example, the single cat will lie in wait for their owner at the end of the hallway and pounce using sharp teeth and claws. The kitty could fly at them out of nowhere and bite them on the leg. It’s not playing for fun. It’s very different behavior.
The wonderful thing is there’s a very quick fix to the solution: get another cat! This behavior improves right away once another kitty is introduced. I understand there are times when a second cat or pet is out of the question. I understand that Ragdolls are expensive and you may only be able to afford one kitten. My aim is to make sure my kitten buyers are aware that if your Ragdoll starts acting up around 10 months to 2 years old he may be telling you he’s just plain lonely. There’s also times when the family dog hasn’t been the kind of companionship the kitty is looking for. Sometimes a cat simply wants companionship with its own kind.
Feel free to Google “Single Cat Syndrome” to find other resources. There are also some books that cover the syndrome as well. Here are some great links to get you started: