Although cats are known for their independence, if they are left alone for long periods of time, they can become unhappy. With our busy lives and lots of coming and going from home, it’s no surprise that concerned owners frequently ask themselves ‘how long can you leave a cat alone?’
Most felines will be perfectly content being left alone for the working day while you’re at work. However, longer or more frequent periods of time away, such as full days or nights away from home can be more disruptive. Your cat should not be left alone for long periods of time.
It’s important to note that kittens and adult cats are different. Kittens need more regular care and contact, especially in the beginning and when they’re adjusting to their new home. Adult cats are much more self-sufficient during the day.
Leaving your cat alone for one day
If you’re planning to leave your cat at home for a short period of time such as while you go out to work, there are number of ways that you can make your absence less troubling for your pet.
Firstly, make sure they have everything they need for the day such as bowls of fresh water around the house, some food to eat, a comfortable bed and a clean litter tray. Ensure the house is warm and they have plenty of space to move around – try not to shut them up in a single room.
While you may not be around personally to entertain your cat, this doesn’t mean that your cat has to go without something to do for the whole day. You can keep your cat active by providing toys like a cat tree, a brain game or open cardboard boxes which can provide your cat with a daily dose of fun.
To make them feel less alone, simply leaving the TV on for background noise or using a pheromone plug-in can help your cat to stay calm. If you believe being alone makes your cat anxious, it’s worth testing this to see if they are calmer when you return.
How long can cats be left alone when I’m on holiday?
It’s important that you don’t leave your cat on their own while you go on holiday for a number of reasons. Access to fresh water, food and companionship are just a few reasons why they shouldn’t be left alone for days on end.
For all their solitary behaviour, cats are social creatures that need stimuli and interaction as much as humans do. Companionship, whether with humans or other cats, is an important part of any healthy feline’s life.
Leaving your cat at home while you go to work should not prove problematic. However, longer periods away from home during which your cat has no other animal or person with which to interact can lead to loneliness.
If you’re worried your cat is lonely, there are few warning signs that you can look out for:
- Clinginess - if your cat frequently demands attention or follows you around the house then it may be a sign that they are feeling lonely.
- Aggressive behaviour - uncharacteristic aggressive displays may be indicative of loneliness and a bid for attention.
- Litter box issues - a feline may display their disapproval at being left alone by urinating on your belongings (anything that has your scent on it).
- Excessive grooming - pulling out fur or excessive grooming is another sign that your cat may be unhappy.
Cats, like humans, are creatures of habit. It’s for this reason that your cat is highly attuned to the activities which occur consistently throughout the day. When you wake up, meal times and playtime are all important events in the structure of your cat’s day.
As home-loving, territorial animals, if their usual routine changes, your cat may well feel stressed and anxious. It’s precisely for this reason that leaving your cat alone for an extended period of time can prove a negative experience.
What to do with your cat when you go on holiday
It goes without saying that you can’t leave a cat alone when you go on holiday. If your cat becomes ill or gets injured while you are away you won’t be there to provide the much-needed care that they require. The best option in this case may be boarding your cat in a cattery or arranging for them to be looked after by a friend or family member.
Neighbours, friends or family
If you’re planning to leave home for a longer period of time, it’s always worth asking responsible neighbours or friends and family to look after your cat in your own home.
This will allow your cat to stay in the safe place they feel most comfortable, with regular check-ups to feed them, play with them and change the litter tray. This is the least disruptive option, not to mention the most cost-effective. It’s even better if your cat knows the person looking in on them, as they will feel more secure.
Professional pet sitter
Paying for a trusted professional pet sitter means you’ll always be at ease. Someone will either call in regularly to feed and socialise with your cat, or will live in your house while you’re away. While this service costs more money, it can be a fantastic solution because this way your cat is in the environment they know, but also have regular care and company. Since cats are generally wary of strangers and the new scents they bring into the home, it’s a good idea to invite the pet sitter to your home for a get-to-know session before your departure.
You can also arrange a stay in a cattery. This is a popular choice and there are many well-managed, caring boarding catteries across the country.
If you’re planning to use a cattery, try to get your cat used to them from kittenhood as older cats may struggle a bit with the change of environment. It’s important to do your research to find a reputable, licensed cattery with knowledgeable, caring staff and good, clean, comfortable facilities.
We hope we have answered your question of ‘how long can you leave a cat alone’. Leaving your cat at home while you are away for a short amount of time shouldn’t be a problem because most cats love their independence. However, if you’re expecting to go away for a longer period of time, such as a mini break or a holiday, ensure that you plan ahead to make sure your cat is as comfortable as possible.