How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?

cat home alone sitting by the window and waiting for her owner to come back home

While cats may appear to be independent, they do get lonely. Today, our Novato vets explain how long you can leave your cat home alone and offer you tips on how you can help your kitty stay safe and comfortable while you are gone.

The Independent Cat Myth

People who own cats know how our feline friends are a lot more sociable than their reputation may make us believe.

So, do cats get lonely? Like people, our cats have a diverse range of personalities. While some cats may be consistently aloof and prefer their own company, other cats are happy to greet their owners at the door when they get home from work each day and then follow them around the house meowing. So, some cats will likely adjust better to being alone than others based solely on their personalities, but all cats need their humans, some more than others.

How Old Your Cat Is When You Leave Them Home Alone

Cats that are very old and very young tend to be more vulnerable and need more attention than middle-aged cats. As do cats with health concerns. So be sure to take extra care when leaving cats with health conditions, kittens, and senior cats alone.

Kittens & Young Cats

Kittens typically need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day until they are about 6 months old. Young cats also have a habit of getting into mischief when they aren't supervised. Kittens under 4 months old should not be left on their own for more than 4 hours at a time. If you know that your lifestyle means that your cat will need to get used to time alone, begin training your kitten, by gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of the house. Ask your vet for instructions on how you can get your kitten used to time alone.

Once your kitten turns 6 months old, if you need to be away for an extended amount of time, it may be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their house to care for them. If this isn't a possibility, have someone stop by your place once or twice a day to check in on your young cat to make sure they are safe, have plenty to eat, and get some social interaction to relieve boredom.

If you have a young kitty and need to be away from home for more than 2 to 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 That Have 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 stomach problems. 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 offer 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, ask them how long they think your cat can be left alone safely.

Adult (Middle-Aged) Cats

Under some circumstances, it may be ok to leave your healthy, adult cat alone for 24 to 48 hours. Of course, this will depend upon a number of factors including your cat's personality, your living conditions, and whether they are used to spending time alone. If your cat is going to be left on their own for a day or two be sure the temperature of your home isn't too hot or too cold. Also, ensure your kitty has enough (dry) food and clean water left out for them to eat and drink while you are away. It's also a good idea to make sure the litter box is completely clean before you leave.

You can help 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 gone.

Tips for Leaving Your Cat Home Alone

If you are planning to be away from home, here are a few tips to help ensure your cat stays safe while you are not home.

  • Talk to your vet to find out if they have any concerns about you leaving your cat alone. Your vet knows your cat's health concerns and is in the best position to give you advice on your cat's wellbeing.
  • 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.
  • Ensure that your cat has plenty of clean water in a bowl that will not tip over and spill. Cat water fountains are available from pet stores. These handy devices can help keep your cat's water fresher and cleaner while you're gone.
  • Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to rotate the food and keep it fresher.
  • 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.
  • If your cat is particularly fussy about their litter box you may want to leave 2 fresh clean boxes of litter for them.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Do you have any questions about leaving your cat home alone? Contact our Novato vets today and schedule an appointment.