How long can you leave a cat alone?
Although cats are known for their independence, if they are left alone for long periods of time they can become unhappy. It’s therefore no surprise that concerned owners frequently ask themselves questions such as ‘how long can you leave a cat alone?’
Most felines will be perfectly content being left alone for a day while you’re at work. However, longer or more frequent periods of time away, such as family holidays, can be more disruptive. Your cat should not be left alone for long periods of time.
Why shouldn’t cats be left a home during holidays?
It’s important not to leave your cat on their own whilst you go on holiday for a number of different reasons. Access to fresh water, food and companionship are just a few reasons why they shouldn’t be left alone for days on end. Keep reading to find out more.
For all their solitary behaviour, cats are social creatures that need stimuli and interaction as much as the next pet. Companionship, whether with humans or other cats, is an important part of any healthy feline’s life. Fortunately, 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 he/she is feeling lonely.
- Aggressive behaviour - uncharacteristic aggressive displays may be indicative of loneliness.
- 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. ‘How long can you leave a cat alone?’ should be closely followed by the question ‘Can I maintain my cat’s routine?’
What to do with your cat when you go on holiday
It goes without saying that 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. If your cat has a chronic condition which requires medication (such as frequent seizures) then leaving your pet without close supervision might be completely out of the question. The best option in this case may be boarding your cat in a veterinary hospital or arranging for them to stay at a cattery, but since cats do not like unfamiliar surroundings, this is not the ideal solution.
What to do with your cat when you go on holiday
Neighbours - 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 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 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 is a good idea to invite the pet sitter to your home for a get-to-know session before your departure.
Leaving your cat just for the day
If you’re planning to leave your cat at home for a short period of time, then there are number of ways that you can make your absence less troubling for your pet:
Stimulation - while you may not be around personally to entertain your cat, this doesn’t mean that your cat has to go without entertainment for the whole day. Even when you’re away, you can entertain your cat by providing toys for cats home alone: a cat tree, a ball of string or open paper bags 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.
Food and water – make sure they have everything they need, such as bowls of fresh water around the house, and a clean litter tray.
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, ensure that you plan ahead to make sure your cat is as comfortable as possible.