We often think of cats as being independent and sovereign animals that don't require much interaction, but that is not always the case. Our Wake Forest vets discuss the needs of your feline friend and how long you can safely leave your cat alone.
How long can my cat stay alone?
Cats are generally thought of as being low-maintenance, which can make them more appealing to some people. While they don't require walks or the same level of exercise as our canine companions, they still require more interaction than we may realize. Our feline friends may be okay to be left at home without you for the duration of your workday, this doesn't mean that they aren't bored or lonely while you are away.
One way to ensure that your cat's alone time goes as smoothly and successfully as possible is to be sure that they have adequate entertainment for the time that they will be home alone. You should also make sure that their favorite toys are easily accessible and some cats even enjoy having a radio or tv left on as background noise.
Leaving your cat for up short periods of time is acceptable as long as they have access to a clean litterbox, fresh water and have been fed prior to you leaving them alone. It is not recommended to leave your cat any longer than 24 hours without the help of a family member, friend, or pet sitter. This person can check in on them and give them some attention, as well as ensure that they are fed appropriately, have fresh, clean water at all times, as well as a clean litterbox, and have not become injured or had an accident while you are away.
What are some concerns?
While a healthy adult cat shouldn't have any serious concerns while being left alone during the day, there are added concerns if it is a young kitten, a senior cat or if your cat suffers from any health conditions.
If you have a kitten and can provide them with a safe room to play in during the day free of any potential hazards then they will be okay to leave for short periods of time. Keep in mind that kittens generally require meals three times daily while they are between 3 to 6 months of age. Having someone available to feed them and check up on them every couple of hours is recommended.
Senior cats and cats with medical concerns also should be checked on more frequently, they can be more sensitive and may experience symptoms of stress related to being left alone such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Not using the litter box
What will my cat do while I am away?
If you’re going to leave your cat alone for more than a few hours, you can set them up for success while you’re gone. Feed them a meal shortly before you leave, and refresh their water bowl before you walk out the door. Finally, leave them with a clean litterbox.
While some cats enjoy napping for the duration of the time you are gone, some cats have an abundance of energy and will need to be entertained while they are home alone. Cat's typically enjoy toys such as noisy crinkle balls, toys with "tails" as well as various catnip toys. Some cats may also benefit from having some sound on in the house such as a television or the radio.
It may be a good idea to set your cat up with a room that has been cat-proofed and includes music and all of their favorite things along with the necessities.
Using pet sitters or boarding services
Leaving your cat alone while you head to work or to any appointment is generally acceptable, but what if your plans change?
It is always a good idea to have a backup plan ready in case there are unforeseen circumstances and you are unable to return home in a reasonable amount of time. Having a friend or pet sitter can be very beneficial for these moments.
It can be a good idea to leave a list for the pet sitter that includes any crucial information for the care of your pet like:
- Your name and contact number
- Name of cat
- Feeding times and where to feed them
- Medication or special care info
- How often to change the litter
- Where they might hide
- Where any supplies are stored
- Name and number of the veterinarian
- Name and number of your emergency contact
It can also be a good idea to set your cat up with boarding facilities for those times when you must go away and leave your cat alone. This will help to alleviate any stress for yourself and your cat during these times. Leaving your cat with a reputable boarding facility will ensure that your cat has complete care and attention at all times.
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.