Cats may appear aloof, but evidence suggests that they do get lonely, and they, of course, rely on us to provide them with everything they require to thrive. Our Boulder County vets explain how long you can leave a cat alone, as well as tips for keeping your cat safe and happy while you're 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 get lonely? Like people, our feline friends have a diverse range of personalities. While some cats may be consistently aloof and prefer their own company, other cats happily greet their owners at the door when they get home from work each day then follow their owner around the house meowing. So, some cats will likely adjust better to time alone than others based solely on their personalities, but all cats need their people, and some more than others.
Your Cat's Age Matters When Leaving Them Alone
Cats that are very old or very young 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 out of the house. 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 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 get some social interaction to keep them entertained.
If you have a young cat and need to be away from home for more than 2-4 hours, pet boarding is an excellent option. Many boarding facilities provide excellent care for cats of all ages, including 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 empty before you leave.
You can help prevent your cat from becoming lonely or mischievous by taking them to a reputable pet boarding facility in your area. Pet boarding allows you to leave the house knowing that your cat is safe and 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 with your veterinarian to see if they have any concerns about leaving your cat alone. Your vet is familiar with your cat's health issues and is the best person to give you advice on your cat's well-being.
- We strongly advise having someone check on your kitty once or twice a day while you are away to ensure that he or she 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 its 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 pet boarding facility in your area. Cat boarding facilities can provide your kitty with a clean and bright environment where they will be well cared for and have 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.