Leaving cats home alone seem natural to us. We see cats as very independent creatures, but just how independent are they? Can they be left home alone for a day, three days, a week? Do cats actually get lonely?
As independent as they are, cats still crave attention and interaction. Plus, they can get in all kinds of trouble when left home alone. Dangling cables, poisonous plants, chemicals, plastic bags, paper shredders – all these things pose huge threats to your little feline explorer.
Learn how long your cat can stay home alone and what you need to do to ensure they are safe, healthy and happy.
- Dog Cats Get Lonely?
- How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?
- How to Leave Your Cat Home Alone
- Leaving a Kitten Home Alone
- Do Cats Miss Their Owners?
- How to Keep Cats Entertained
Do Cats Get Lonely?
Regardless of their reputation, cats do get lonely when they are left unattended for long periods of time. They are social beings that form strong bonds with their owners. When their needs for companionship are not met, cats can become depressed. They can also get separation anxiety.
Unfortunately, feline separation anxiety often goes unnoticed until it becomes severe. Unlike dogs with separation anxiety, cats will not trash your entire home or annoy the neighbors with excessive barking and howling. But, your kitty may start acting more clingy, stop using the litter box, and meow excessively.
How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?
How long you can leave your cat alone depends on your pet’s personality and habits. Other factors are the environment, their health, and age.
Here’s a rough estimate of how long you can leave your kitty alone based on age:
|Under 4 months||2-4 hours|
|4-5 months||5 hours|
|6 months||8 hours|
|Healthy grown-up cats||24-48 hours|
Keep in mind that this is the maximum amount of time you should leave your cat home alone. Beyond this time, you should get somebody to check up on them. It’s vital that your pet has enough food, fresh water, and a safe place to sleep. Also, remove any sharp items and poisonous plants.
Once you have covered the basics, make sure your kitty has enough stimuli, so it doesn’t get bored. High posts next to windows, scratch posts, toys, TV, and music for cats are a few examples.
Leaving a Cat Alone Overnight
If your feline is healthy and you can ensure a safe environment, leaving a cat alone overnight should not cause big problems. Food, fresh water, and at least a couple litter boxes are a must. But, if your cat has health issues or separation anxiety, try to find other options.
Getting a pet sitter is the best solution if you have a kitten or a grown-up cat with medical problems. The sitter will ensure your pet is safe and cared for and your house remains clean. Having a friend or a family member over will also give you peace of mind and reduce the cost of hiring a pet sitter.
Leaving a Cat Alone for the Weekend
Whenever you need to leave your cat alone for more than 24 hours, you should have somebody checking in on them.
There are several reasons for this:
- Water will become stale
- Food can run low
- Litter boxes need to be scooped
- Cats are creatures of habit that need interaction and playtime
- Your cat can get lonely or bored
- Cats can get ill or injured
- Weather changes can have severe consequences on your feline
You can mitigate some of these things if you are sure that your cat is confident and resourceful enough to get through the weekend on their own.
Water fountains combined with water bowls will prevent the water from becoming stale. Automatic cat feeders can deliver food to your pet at regular times. You can leave multiple litter boxes around as well.
Kitty-proofing your home before you go decreases the chance of injuries. A stimulating environment can prevent boredom, and you can also check in on your cat if you set up a pet camera.
Lastly, leave the air conditioning on to maintain comfortable room temperature for your cat.
Keep in mind that technology can fail you and that no toy can replace human interaction.
Leaving a Cat Alone for Three Days
Leaving a cat alone for three days without someone dropping by is not a good idea. The reasons listed above apply in this case as well. If you have no other option, consider a boarding facility.
You may think that your feline will be happy there with all the other cats and people to play with, but cats are territorial animals. A new environment with all those unfamiliar faces will not be easy but the stress your cat will endure during those three days in a boarding facility is better than leaving them completely unattended. Whether you have to leave your cat alone for work or on an extended weekend trip, you will have some peace of mind knowing that at least your pet’s basic needs are being met.
Leaving Cat Alone for a Week
Leaving a cat alone for a week can end in a disaster. If you have to go away for the entire week, you must find someone to at least check in on your feline. A friend, a family member or a pet sitter are all viable options.
If no one is available, consider a boarding facility. Otherwise, it’s a huge gamble. Too many things can go wrong. Don’t take that risk!
Here are some situations that might occur:
- Your cat can run out of food and water
- Food and water can go bad and cause health issues
- There can be weather changes that will affect your cat’s well-being
- Your cat can get ill or injured
- The litter boxes will be full, and your cat will start house-soiling
- Your kitty can get lonely, depressed, or anxious
Plan ahead and don’t neglect your cat when you have to go away for long periods of time.
How to Leave Your Cat Home Alone
No matter if you’re leaving for a couple of hours or a couple of days, here are some tips on how to leave your cat home alone.
You want to think about food, water, safety, and entertainment.
Fill the water bowls with fresh water. If you’re leaving for long periods of time, consider getting a water fountain.
Make sure your cat has enough food at disposal. When you know you will only be gone a few hours, you can skip this step and stick to the regular feeding schedule. Cats love routine. You can maintain a feeding schedule if you get a pet food dispenser.
Keep in mind that all devices can malfunction and have a backup plan in place.
Scoop the litter boxes and ensure there are enough of them around for your cat to use while you’re away.
Kitty-proof your home. Remove dangerous chemicals, poisonous plants, sharp objects, small toys, and plastic bags from your cat’s reach. If there are plastic bags in the trash, cut both ends of the bag as a precaution. Unplug paper shredders to prevent accidents. Make sure there are no dangling cables around. Keep the toilet lid closed.
Enrich the environment. Scratch posts, toys to keep, window posts, and quiet resting places are a start. You can leave the TV or the radio on for entertainment. Hiding food or treats around the house will also keep your cat busy while you’re away.
Have a play session and make any arrangements before you leave. If somebody will be dropping by to check on your pet, inform them of the feeding schedule, your cat’s habits and health condition. Leave your vet’s contact number and your emergency contact.
If you want to keep an eye on your feline while you are away, you can set up a pet camera such as Petcube Play. This sleek pet camera allows you to stream video, talk to your cat, play with it using a laser toy, and more.
Leaving a Kitten Home Alone
When leaving a kitten home alone, pay special attention to food, water, toys, and potential hazards. Consider getting a large crate for the kitten where it will be safe and have enough room to play. You can also use a spare bedroom or a bathroom. If you opt for any room in your home, make safety a priority.
Beware of chemicals, sharp objects, cables, plants, plastic items and small objects that the kitten could swallow. Minimize the time alone for your kitten or get a pet sitter to drop by.
Do Cats Miss Their Owners?
Cats form very strong bonds with their human companions and family members. Even though they may play it cool, they will notice you’re gone and they will miss your attention. If your cat starts meowing loudly when you leave the room, that’s one sign they miss you.
If you notice these signs, talk to a vet to determine if there’s a health condition to address. And please, don’t get mad at your cat if they urinate on your clothes. It is their way of saying that they miss you.
How to Keep Cats Entertained
There are many ways to keep cats entertained.
Check out activities and the best cat toys to keep them busy:
- Puzzle feeders
- Toys (balls, catnip toys, feather toys, wand toys, mouse toys, food mazes, cardboard boxes, etc.)
- Vertical scratch posts
- Cat trees
- TV program or music
- Bird feeders outside the window
- Petcube Play pet camera with the laser toy
- Hiding food or treats around the house
- Getting another pet cat
- Having somebody drop by for a play session
Q: Can a kitten be left home alone?
A: You can leave a kitten home alone for short periods of time. Kittens younger than four months of age should not be left alone for more than a couple of hours. Over four months, they can handle up to five hours. When they turn six months, they should be able to handle your 8-hour workday.
Keep in mind that each cat is unique. Some may handle alone time well while others can have problems. Always ensure that your kitten has food, water, a safe place to rest, and a few toys to play with.
Q: Do cats get lonely on their own?
A: Cats can get lonely, depressed and anxious on their own. Each cat is different and will respond according to their personality and habits. If you have to leave your cat alone regularly for longer periods of time, watch out for signs of depression and cat separation anxiety.
Q: Are cats OK by themselves?
A: Some cats will do OK by themselves while others will get lonely and destructive. You should observe your cat’s behavior and habits. Most cats can handle and even enjoy their alone time.
If you will be away for hours or days at a time, plan ahead. Provide food, water, and a safe environment. Consider a pet sitter or a family member who can check in on your kitty.
Q: How long can you leave a cat home alone during the day?
A: You can leave a healthy adult pet home alone for 8 hours or more at a time. Cats are generally more independent than dogs. You can go to work without having to worry that your cat will trash your entire place or upset the neighbors. But, if your cat has a health issue or separation anxiety, get a pet sitter or minimize the time spent alone.
Q: What are the best toys for cats home alone?
A: Some of the best toys for cats home alone include cat food trees, scratch toys, balls, puzzle feeders, cat tunnels, interactive pet cameras, and motorized toys they can chase around.