You may pass by dog parks as you drive through your city and wonder: “Are there dog parks for cats?” Perhaps, you feel there is an unequal favoritism toward our canine companions. Or maybe you think your cat would like some time in a park.
There are no parks for cats. Cats are solitary creatures who do not need socialization in the same way that dogs do. If you have a lonely cat, you could benefit from getting them a companion or investing in mentally stimulating activities.
Cats Have Different Social Needs Than Dogs
The main reason there are no cat parks is that cats don’t socialize in the same way that dogs do. Domestic cats can live alone without issue, or they can form small groups. In the wild, feral cats often form colonies. These colonies vary in size based on the resources available, but they mostly consist of mother cats (queens) and their kittens.
Some colonies have multiple generations of related females who work together to care for all the kittens. Males often do not stay with these colonies. They instead roam independently and only come to the colony to mate.
However, these colonies are more for survival than for socialization. Mother cats may rely on one another for getting food, raising kittens, and fending off predators. They do not join forces because they get lonely.
Why Are There No Dog Parks for Cats?
There are several reasons that cat parks don’t exist. One, even though some cats (like Siamese) are trainable and walk on leashes, not all cats are easy to train. If you took a cat to a park, they would likely run away. Cats don’t always come when you call them, either. So, it would be hard to locate them.
Secondly, dog parks are places where you take your dog to socialize with other dogs. Although cats can form social groups, they are not as eager to accept newcomers as many dog breeds are. Cats are often wary of new cats and need lots of time to adjust to another feline. Encouraging cats to interact with others may result in fighting (or unplanned kittens!).
Finally, many cats are more likely to be shy of strangers. You may have noticed your cat runs and hides the moment a guest comes over to visit. In a dog park, they would constantly encounter strangers and other cats. Forced socialization could cause too much stress.
How to Socialize Your Cat
If you feel like your cat would benefit from getting out of the house for a bit, there are a few options. You could take your cat in a cat backpack (yes, these exist). These are backpacks with air holes and “portholes” that let cats observe their surroundings. It’s like a mini vacation for your cat!
You could also make some cat-friendly improvements to your house. Some ideas include:
- Cat trees with hidey-holes
- Installing wall-mounted shelves, so they can walk along them
- Providing carpeted perches
- Putting on cat YouTube videos for your friend to enjoy
- Getting puzzle toys with high-value treats
You could also take them over to a friend’s house––but don’t be surprised if they hide under the bed! Cats are territorial and won’t adapt to new places right away.
It is also important not to take your cat to an outdoor place, especially off a leash. They may wander off or get injured. You also don’t want to break up a fight between your cat and another critter—like a skunk or a possum.
How to Meet a Lonely Cat’s Needs
A lonely cat often just needs more attention from their owner. To provide your cat with the companionship they crave, try setting aside 15 to 30 minutes each day to play with them. You can get catnip mice or balls with jingle bells. Teasers are also popular toys. Playing with your cat is a wonderful way for you two to bond, as well as to get your cat the daily exercise they need.
You can also give your cat plenty of cuddles. If your cat enjoys sitting in your lap, when you sit to watch TV or as you sleep, give her plenty of pets to give her the affection she needs. If your cat is a little more standoffish, you can pet her while you are feeding her.
Some more social and affectionate cat breeds, like Siamese, Burmese, or Ragdolls, may enjoy the company of another cat. It is important to slowly introduce one cat to another. People often adopt littermates because they already have an established bond. However, unless you are looking to breed your cat, it is essential to get them spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies or sexual aggression.
Cats Are Different Than Dogs
There are no dog parks for cats because cats do not need socialization in the same way that dogs do. Cats often do things on their own terms, and they often initiate contact on their own. They also are often wary of strangers. The very nature of dog parks can also be problematic since owners less often train their cats to come at command.
However, there are ways you can help your cat to feel less lonely if you believe they may benefit from extra attention. As noted, some ideas include outfitting your home with cat-friendly décor or bringing home a new cat companion.
Different cat breeds are more social than others. Also, personalities affect how social a cat can be. Interaction from their owners is usually plenty to make a cat happy.