Owners Guide to Leaving Your Cat Home Alone

Your cats might come off as being totally self-reliant – strutting around your house like they’re Miss/Mr. Independent and they don’t need no man or woman. But there’s nothing further from the truth! Cats require your attention just as much as any other pet for regular feedings, ongoing entertainment and love and affection. With work, vacations and that destination wedding your sister just HAD to have, we can’t be there with or for them 24 hours a day – even though we totally would if we could.

So, at some point, you’re going to have to leave your cat home alone (a la Kevin Mc-CAT-lister style). But that raises a few questions on how to leave them alone without them becoming a real grumpy cat.

How Long Can You Leave A Cat At Home?

That depends. How old is your cat? Your cat’s age can affect whether he or she can be left home alone. A kitten that’s less than 4 months old shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours, but a 6-month-old cat can be by himself or herself for at least eight hours. If you have a fully grown cat, it can be left alone for 24 to 48 hours. These are estimates based on the average cat, but other factors may play a part in your decision.    

Just like any other pet, cats can develop separation anxiety, and this may affect how long you can leave them alone. Separation anxiety can cause undue stress to a cat and can affect your home. Abnormal behavior such as prolonged vocalization, excessive grooming and urinating near the front door or on personal belongings might be signs of separation anxiety. All that anxiety could definitely turn them into a real smelly cat (Smelly Cat, Smelly Caaaaat, What are they feeding you?). Make sure to take your kitty’s feelings and worries into consideration when leaving them home alone.

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Are Their Needs Met While You’re Gone?

Once you determine how long you can leave your cat home alone, it’s important to figure out what he or she needs. This may come as a surprise, but cats are most comfortable when they have a routine. Chances are, your cat loves to eat, use the litterbox, walk on your keyboard, push over glasses of water, etc. on a regular schedule. Make sure when you’re gone, your cat is still able to do the things they love at his or her preferred times. If you’re going to leave him or her home alone for longer than normal, ensure their litterbox is clean, food and water are readily available, and there are plenty of toys within paws’ reach.

Can A Cat Be Boarded?

Cats are definitely more independent than other pets, but they still require plenty of attention. If you plan on going on vacation or a work trip for an extended period of time, consider hiring a sitter or asking a friend or family member to check in on your cat. You can also trade cat sitting duties with fellow feline owning friends and start your own version of the Baby-Sitters Club, but for cats. With a sitter, your cat’s litterbox can be freshened up, his or her food and water can be replenished, and he or she can get some much-needed TLC.

You may also want to look into boarding your cat if your friends or loved ones are unable to pop in at your house and check on your furry friend. Most pet boarding locations offer separate rooms for cats, which is an ideal alternative for felines who suffer from separation anxiety. This can also provide you with some peace of mind.

New cat owners may not realize that, despite their independent attitudes, these animals get lonely and desire company. Think of them as a feline version of Rory Gilmore. Cats recognize when you’re gone, so make sure to give them plenty of love when you get back.

Is your favorite buddy just missing you, or are they actually stressed? Find out how to tell if you're cat is too stressed out, and ways to help them (and you) relax.

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