Nobody likes to be lonely. It’s important, both to your physical and mental health, to have friends and family in your life who care about you, and with whom you interact regularly. The same goes for animals. They need friends too—and in many cases, it’s up to us to provide it for them.
Animals Who Socialize
Man is a social animal—but we’re not the only ones. Many higher intelligence mammals, such as dolphins, chimpanzees, and elephants, have been found to thrive more in group environments and develop friendships.
Even bats make friends with one another, finding a close-knit group of a few others with whom they associate most often over the course of a day. Unlike dolphins and elephants, bats’ brains are fairly small, which leads scientists to think that the need for companionship isn’t necessarily linked to intelligence after all.
In one instance, a female bat was seen to care for and groom another, unrelated female bat during pregnancy, in order to help her with her delivery. They stand by one another and look out for their friends, just like we do.
Companion Animal Friendships
What about your dog or cat? Do they need friendship too? Ostensibly, companionship is part of what you give them, in addition to food and basic care. However, what if you work most of the day, and they’re left at home alone? How can you tell if your pet is lonely?
If you find that your pet is misbehaving, particularly if they’re becoming destructive, it could be a sign they need a friend. It can help, in some instances, to adopt another pet to give them some companionship during the day while you’re away.
On the other hand, the problem may be separation anxiety, from you specifically. In that case, another pet might not help. Before adopting another pet, try taking them to a dog park or other place where they can interact with other animals. Observe what they do. Are they friendly? Do they want to play? Or do they stick close to you and not seem to want to associate with the other animals?
Finally, take your pet to the vet, to see what they think of their behavior and need for socialization. It could be loneliness or separation anxiety, or it could be a medical problem requiring treatment. Get to the root of the issue before entertaining solutions.
If you do decide to get a friend for your pet, talk to local animal shelters and pet adoption centers about going through the process of taking home another pet. Ideally, it should be the same kind of animal that you already have, to prevent interaction problems. If you have a cat and get a dog to be its friend, they might get along great, or they may hate one another.
Everyone needs friends, whether it’s cats and dogs, bats, or people. In fact, friendship is probably one of the reasons why you got a pet in the first place. However, their companionship needs aren’t as easy to meet as yours, and you can’t be there for them all the time. If your pet is lonely, think about adopting another friend to keep them company. You’ll be making both their lives and yours a lot better.