Cats may seem aloof, but evidence suggests that cats do get lonely, and of course, they need us to provide them with all the things they need to thrive. Here, our Ocala vets explain how long you can leave a cat alone, and give tips for keeping your cat safe and content while you are away.
The Myth of the Independent Cat
Cat parents know that our feline friends are much more sociable than their reputation might have us believe.
So, do cats experience loneliness? Our feline companions, like people, have a wide range of personalities. While some cats are consistently aloof and prefer their own company, others cheerfully greet their owners at the door when they return home from work each day and meow as they follow them around the house. So, based solely on their personalities, some cats will likely adjust better to time alone than others, but all cats need their people, some more than others.
Your Cat's Age Matters When Leaving Them Alone
Older and younger cats are more vulnerable and require more attention than middle-aged cats. As do cats who have health issues. Take extra precautions when leaving cats with medical conditions, kittens, or senior cats alone.
Young Cats & Kittens
Kittens typically require three or four feedings per day until they are about six months old. When young cats are left unsupervised, they are prone to misbehaving. Kittens under the age of four months should not be left alone for more than four hours at a time. If you know that your cat will need to get used to spending time alone due to your lifestyle, start training your kitten by gradually increasing the amount of time you are gone. Consult your veterinarian for advice on how to best train your kitten to be left alone at home.
If you need to be away for an extended period of time after your kitten is 6 months old, it may be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their house to care for them. If that isn't possible, have someone come by once or twice a day to check in on your young cat to ensure they are safe, have plenty to eat, and are getting some social interaction to relieve boredom.
If you have a young kitty and need to be away from home for more than 2-4 hours pet boarding is the ideal solution. Many boarding facilities offer fabulous care for cats of any age, complete with lots of love and attention.
Senior Cats & Cats With Health Issues
Older cats can be very sensitive to routines, which means that changes to their normal day can be stressful for them to handle. Stress can lead to an increased risk of health conditions and tummy issues. It's also common for senior cats to require extra feedings or medication throughout the day. For these reasons, it may not be a good idea to leave your senior cat alone overnight. Many pet boarding facilities provide round-the-clock care for animals in need of a little extra TLC while their owners are away, making pet boarding an ideal option for senior or unwell cats. If your cat must stay home alone, have someone visit your house twice a day to check on your senior cat.
Your vet knows your senior cat best, speak to your vet about how long they believe your cat can safely be left alone.
It may be safe to leave your healthy adult cat alone for 24 to 48 hours in some cases. Of course, this will depend on a variety of factors, including your cat's personality, living conditions, and whether they are used to being alone. If you're going to leave your cat alone for a day or two, make sure the temperature in your home isn't too hot or cold, that there's enough (dry) food left out for your cat to eat while you're gone, and that there's plenty of clean drinking water! It's also a good idea to double-check that the litter box is completely empty before you leave.
You can help to prevent your cat from feeling lonely or getting into mischief by taking them to a trusted pet boarding facility in your neighborhood. Pet boarding offers you the freedom to leave home knowing that your kitty is safe and being well cared for while you are away.
Tips for Leaving Your Cat When You Need to be Away
If you are planning to be away from home, here are a few tips to help ensure that your cat stays safe while you're gone.
- Speak to your vet to find out if they have any concerns about your cat being left alone. Your vet knows your cat's health concerns and is in the best position to give you advice on your cat's wellbeing.
- We strongly recommend that you have someone check on your kitty once or twice a day while you are gone, to ensure that your kitty is safe and has enough food and water for the duration of your absence.
- Check the weather and be sure that your thermostat is set so that your home will remain at a comfortable temperature while you're away.
- Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to ration the food and keep it fresher.
- Make sure your cat has enough clean water in a bowl that won't tip over and spill. Cat water fountains are sold in pet stores. While you're away, these handy devices can help keep your cat's water fresh and clean.
- If your cat is particularly fussy about their litter box you may want to leave 2 fresh clean boxes of litter for them.
- Consider leaving a radio or tv on so that your cat hears voices while you are away. It may help to relieve your cat's boredom.
- Take your cat to a local pet boarding facility. Cat boarding facilities can offer your kitty a clean and bright place to stay where they will be well cared for, and provided with plenty of human interaction.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.