Your cat is independent and apathetic and probably doesn’t even care if you’re alive or dead…right? wrong. While it is true that cats are much less maintenance than most puppies, cats still crave affection from humans. In fact, they are not much different from dogs in this respect; Domesticated cats who have been deprived of human contact for a long time are already prone to feelings of separation anxiety, in addition to the obvious health complications that come from not having their physical needs met. Having said that, cats sleeping in isolation can overcome a little solitude – just be sure to read on to find out what the experts have to say about how long you can leave a cat alone before you pack your bags.
How long can you leave a cat alone?
The good news is that the average full-fledged kitten will do well when left alone on a working day, which means that in most cases, you don’t need to have a regular pet sitter. Yes, you may have noticed that your cat loves to sleep — up to 18 hours a day, in fact — so you don’t have to feel guilty about spending the day at the office while your cat is sitting on the couch. Working a night shift? Again, not a big deal. Your schedule doesn’t make much difference to your cat’s time alone. As long as you are constantly there for some time every 24 hours, your cat will be satisfied. But, of course, an occasion may arise when you need to be away from home for a longer period. Here’s what you need to know about longer periods of separation from cats.
When it comes to longer absences, cat lovers and the experts behind Animalpath.org say that healthy adult cats should not be left alone for more than 24 to 48 hours. Meanwhile, vets at CVETS in South Carolina are a little more generous, saying “If you leave your cat alone for more than three days, you should find someone to check on.” In other words, there is no set amount of time that experts agree on for each cat, and your cat’s needs may change over time. Needless to say, adult cats with special needs – whether it’s a recent injury, illness or daily regimen – will need to be checked in frequently. Plus, even the healthiest kitties need food, water, and a toilet before they leave. Professionals also advise against leaving a newly adopted adult cat alone for the aforementioned period of time, because fur companions who are still in the process of adapting to a new environment are naturally more susceptible to separation anxiety and the behavioral problems that go along with it.
How long can you leave a cat alone?
Cats are the best – but like any child, they do noticeably more than an adult. In fact, age makes a huge difference in terms of how long you can leave your cat alone – specifically for pets under six months old. As per the pluses, babies under the age of 4 months should not be left alone for more than two to four hours; Kittens 4 to 5 months old can cool on their own for up to five hours; By the half-year mark, cats can sit (or nap) beautifully for eight hours in the workday without any consequences. Of course, this is just an estimate based on what most cats can handle. Your feline’s temperament will play a big part in the equation, so proceed with caution.
Dangers of leaving a cat alone
We shouldn’t wind your sails after you’ve been reassured, but there are some risks associated with leaving your cat alone for too long. However, don’t worry, friends: it’s mostly just common sense.
Let’s start with the litter box – the fact that many healthy cats will simply avoid it if it becomes too gross. And since no one enjoys cat pee on their wooden floor (or, on top of a pile of dry cleaning), that’s definitely a factor worth considering.
While an angry cat urinating everywhere is a nightmare and trouble, even more serious is the possibility of unexpected injury or illness. Although the chances of your strong domestic cat suddenly getting sick are slim, this is definitely a possibility – especially if you don’t protect your cat before leaving. By the same token, a mischievous cat can get into trouble when she is bored and alone.
Finally, there is the emotional impact. Long periods away can cause even the cutest cats to rub the wrong way. If you don’t want your furball to turn into a nervous stress ball, it’s best to be mindful of your kitty’s temperament and generally stick to the above guidelines for a maximum of 24 to 48 hours at a time.
What to know before you go
When it comes to leaving a healthy cat alone, the most important things are pretty clear: You’ll need to provide enough food for the day or two you plan to stay away from, replenish the water bowl and thoroughly clean your cat’s litter box. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you about the latter.)
We also suggest that you take your cat’s emotional needs into consideration. After all, your home is a very boring place without you. As such, you can help reduce any separation anxiety and reduce the risk of cat scams if you provide your pet with some toys designed for individual play.
Finally, if you want to be extra careful, or have any doubts about your cat’s physical health, it is wise to visit your vet before letting any pet fend for themselves. Also, it is worth repeating that kittens under six months of age and newly adopted kittens cannot and should not be left alone for a full 24 hours, let alone two years.
When to hire a pet sitter
Cats are known for being low-maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy being neglected. If you are planning to be away from home for a few days, you need to find yourself a friend or hired pet sitter to take care of the cats in your absence. Bonus points if you hold someone who will take some time to play with and pet your cat – “Because yes, they really want someone to love.
Related: How long can you leave your dog alone? The answer may surprise you