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Bored or Lonely Cat? There's Help for That
Courtesy Arm & Hammer and Harris Interactive

Contrary to popular belief, a new nationwide survey of veterinarians raises doubt concerning the solitary nature of cats and highlights the growing consensus within the veterinary community that many cats may be suffering the devastating effects of separation anxiety syndrome.

According to a new survey of 174 veterinarians from the across the country, animal experts now agree that cats are by nature social - not solitary - animals. When asked, more than 8 out of 10 vets agree that cats do not prefer to be left alone, and more than two-thirds of vets argue that cats would actually prefer to live in the company of other cats. Furthermore, the majority of vets believe that social isolation is becoming a major cause of behavior problems in today's domestic cats.

According to the "CAT-PANION Survey" conducted by Harris Interactive® and commissioned by ARM & HAMMER¤ Multi-Cat Strength cat litter, 7 out of 10 vets surveyed agree that cats living in a household with a feline companion lead healthier, happier lives.

While most cat owners pride themselves on the level to which they pamper their pet with the best of everything, single cat owners may be denying their feline friends what they need most -- the companionship of one of their own species. Cats need stimulation during the day like humans, and when left alone, exhibit the same feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. In fact, authorities in Switzerland have passed an anti-cruelty law requiring people to buy/adopt multiple cats since it is the nature of an animal to have company of its own kind.


"Two cats are just as easy as one," says Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, DACVB, a leading veterinary behaviorist and author. "Not only will they keep each other company, but owning two cats will provide a happier living environment for both the cats and their owner."

In light of the new survey data, Dr. Schwartz has teamed with the experts at ARM & HAMMER® Multi-Cat Strength cat litter to launch the "ARM & HAMMER-¤ CAT-PANION Crusade." This nationwide initiative is designed to promote the physical and psychological benefits of multiple cat ownership and to encourage multiple cat adoption.

Multiple cat ownership is the single most effective way to reduce the number of cats forfeited to shelters and to address the overpopulation issue. By bringing to light the issue of separation anxiety in single cat households, ARM & HAMMER® hopes to raise awareness among cat owners of the benefits of raising cats in a multi-cat household.

"It's a sad cycle," argues Dr. Schwartz. "Shelters are being overrun with cats returned because of behavior issues - problems that could have been remedied by adding a second cat to the home. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could empty the shelters by having every person who currently owns one cat adopt a second cat?"

The "CAT-PANION Survey" further revealed that 76 percent of the veterinarians find that most cat owners are unaware of the signs of loneliness in their cats. Further, 86 percent of vets surveyed say that separation-related anxiety will lead to some form of negative behavior.

Tell-TAIL Signs Your Cat is Suffering from Loneliness

1. Overgrooming - Your cat's pulling of his hair or excessive cleaning - similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans - is his way of showing that he needs more consistent attention.

2. Spraying/Squatting - Your cat's strategic marking with deposits of urine or stool is another sign of the impact that your absence has on your cat's sense of well-being.

3. Excessive Vocalization - Your cat will try to communicate unhappiness about being left alone with loud and insistent vocal sounds.

4. Destructiveness - Your cat will "move items" out of anxiety while you are away.

5. Aggressive Behavior - Your cat will act out aggressively towards you when you try to leave the house.

According to the survey, more than half of the veterinarians agree that cats exhibiting negative behaviors tend to improve simply by adding a compatible feline house mate. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Schwartz, many cat owners view the negative behaviors associated with separation anxiety syndrome as irresolvable; leading to the forfeiture of their beloved pet. In fact, behavior related issues are the most common reasons for euthanasia and the abandonment of millions of otherwise healthy cats.

To find out more information about the "ARM & HAMMER® CAT-PANION Crusade," visit If you are interested in adopting a cat, please consult your local humane society for information on their adoption days.

Survey Methodology
This study was conducted online within the United States between September 24 and October 4, 2004 among a sample of 174 veterinarians. The sample was purchased from Hugo Dunhill Medical Information, a division of Hugo Dunhill Mailing Lists, Inc. Doctors learn about and join Hugo Dunhill's database through email broadcasts, internet search engines, medical conventions, medical journals, and websites. Data were unweighted and therefore are representative only of the population of veterinarians surveyed.

In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a sampling error of plus or minus 8 percentage points. This online sample was not a probability sample.

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Most recent update: 1/9/05
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