How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone? (Hint: Not As Long As You Think)
Your cat is independent, indifferent and probably doesn’t even care if you’re alive or dead...right? Wrong. While it’s true that cats are significantly lower maintenance than most pups, felines still crave affection from their humans. In fact, they’re not that different from dogs at all in that regard; domesticated cats who are deprived of human contact for too long are indeed susceptible to feelings of separation anxiety, in addition to the obvious health complications that come from not having their physical needs met. That said, your sleepy, aloof feline can weather a little solitude just fine—just be sure to read on to find out what the experts have to say about how long you can leave a cat alone before you pack your bags.
How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?
The good news is that the average full-grown feline will be fine when left alone for a workday, which means that, in most cases, you needn’t spring for a pet sitter on the regular. Yep, you’ve probably noticed that your cat loved to sleep —up to 18 hours a day, in fact—so you don’t need to feel guilty about putting a day in at the office while your kitty languishes on the couch. Working the nightshift? Again, no big deal. Your particular schedule doesn’t make much of a difference as far as your cat’s alone time is concerned. As long as you’re consistently around for some chunk of time every 24 hours, your cat will be content. But, of course, an occasion may arise where you need to be away from home for a little while longer. Here’s what you need to know about longer periods of separation from your feline.
In general, vets say it's okay to leave your cat alone for up to 24 hours at a time. As long as they have a clean litterbox, access to fresh water, and a full meal before you go, they should be fine for a day. Any longer than that, though, is pushing it.
To prepare for leaving your cat alone, take steps to make your absence as low‐stress on him as possible. This should include a conversation with your veterinarian.
THINK ABOUT THE WEATHER
In summer and hot climates, keep kitty cool by leaving the air conditioning on. An unanticipated heat wave could have dire consequences.
GET AN AUTOMATED PET FEEDER
HomeAgain offers a mircochip pet feeder that exclusively opens for your microchipped cat and keeps food fresher. Using a time feeder will keep your cst on its routine. Make sure you get a cat time feeder with a battery backup in case the electricity goes out.
LEAVE PLENTY OF WATER
Your cat needs to stay hydrated in your absence. Fill her regular water bowl before you leave and add extra bowls of fresh water around your home. Look into getting a pet water fountain. These aerate the water and their continual flow entices a cat to drink more often.
ADD A SECOND LITTER BOX
Without someone to scoop out the litter box, it will not only fill up faster but also will soon discourage your cat from using it, inspiring her to choose other places. By placing an additional litter box in your home and acquainting your cat with its location before you go, you reduce the likelihood of unauthorized deposits.
PROVIDE HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Leave the radio or TV sound on so your cat won't feel quite so alone. You may also want to treat him to a new high perch, scratching post or cozy bed beside a window.
ADOPT A CAT COMPANION
Well before your trip, consider adding a new cat to your household. Choose one that's younger than your current cat and of the opposite sex. Having two will make your home less lonely for pets when you leave.
CONSIDER A CAT SITTER
When you have to be away from home for more than a night or two, having a cat sitter can take the worry out of a trip.
To help your cat sitter do the best job possible, prepare a dossier with pertinent information, including:
- Your name and contact number
- Name of cat
- Feeding times
- When and where she eats
- Medication info, if required
- How often to change litter
- Personality traits
- Where she likes to hide and sleep
- Where to find supplies, including cat carrier
- Name and number of veterinarian
- Name and number of your emergency contact
If the sitter will not bring the cat into her home, tell her how long you expect her to spend with the cat when she's not attending to his immediate needs. Also, a responsible sitter should contact you if she observes changes in your cat's behavior, appetite, litter box habits or grooming. And the best sitters of all will send you a photo and text every day to say your cat is doing just fine, but still misses you.