Do cats get lonely? While our feline friends may seem aloof, evidence suggests they can long for company. They also need a certain level of care to thrive. Today, our Murfreesboro vets explain how long you can leave a cat alone and offer tips for keeping your cat safe and comfortable while you're away.
Myth: Cats Are More Independent Than Sociable
If you've been a cat parent for any length of time, you likely understand that our kitties are much more sociable than conventionally thought. People sometimes ask our vets at Brogli, Lane, Weaver & Alexander Animal Hospital, 'How long can you leave a cat home alone?'
There's debate about whether cats get lonely and how long they can be left alone. Similar to people, a cat's personality is as unique as the markings on their fur. While some cats may prefer their own company and act consistently aloof, other kitties are happy to greet their owners when they walk in the door every day, then follow them around the house meowing (which can sound like making conversation and telling you about their day!).
So, some cats probably have an easier time adapting to time alone than others based solely on their personalities. That said, all cats need their people - some more than others.
Your Cat's Age Matters When Leaving Them Alone
Very young and very old cats tend to be more vulnerable and require more attention than middle-aged cats - the same for cats that have health issues. So, be sure to take extra precautions when leaving kittens, cats with health conditions and senior cats alone.
Young Cats & Kittens
Until they are about 6 months old, kittens usually need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. Young cats also tend to get into things they shouldn't when left unsupervised. Kittens under 4 months old should not be left by themselves for more than 4 hours at a time.
If you know that your lifestyle means your cat will need to get used to spending time along, start training your kitten by gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of the house. Talk to your vet about how to best get your kitten used to being left at home alone.
Once your kitten has reached 6 months old, it might be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their house to care for them if you need to be away for an extended amount of time. If this isn't possible, have someone come by your place once or twice a day to check in on your young cat to ensure they are safe, have plenty to eat and water to drink, and get some social interaction time in to help relieve boredom.
Do you have a young kitty and need to be away from home for more than 2 to 4 hours? Pet boarding is an ideal solution. Many boarding facilities offer excellent care for cats with any age, plus lots of love and attention from staff.
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.
Under some circumstances, it may be okay to leave your healthy, adult cat alone for 24-48 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 its own for a day or two be sure that your home's temperature isn't too hot or too cold, that there is enough (dry) food and water left out for your cat while you're away. It's also a good idea to make sure that the litter box is completely clean before you leave.
You can help to 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 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 to your vet to find out if they have any concerns about your cat being left alone. Your vet knows your cat's health concerns and is in the best position to give you advice on your cat's wellbeing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 to help your cat's water fresher and cleaner while you're gone.
- If your cat is particularly fussy about their 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 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.