How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Home Alone?

How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Home Alone?

by Scritch

After bringing a new cat or kitten home, you might feel apprehensive about leaving them alone for the first time. Since she came into your life, you’ve spent every waking minute together, save for the 15-minute shower breaks. But now that it’s time to go back to work or take a quick overnight trip, you’re wondering how long you can actually leave your cat alone. 

The answer varies depending on your cat’s age. A young kitten shouldn’t be alone for more than 4 hours at a time. Once they have reached 6 months of age, your kitten can tolerate being alone during an 8-hour workday. Adult cats, especially those that are independent, can be left alone for up to 24-48 hours, but we really don’t recommend more than 24 hours without supervision. Furthermore, senior cats and those with special needs or timed medication that rely on a schedule absolutely cannot be left alone for as long and will need a drop-in visit. 

Forget me not

Don’t take off just yet! There are several considerations to keep in mind before leaving your cat for the day. 

  • Food: If your cat is used to free-feeding then she shouldn’t have any problem with your extended absence so long as you provide plenty of food. However, food gobbling cats who greedily chow down on their entire supply in one sitting will be left with a tummy ache and no more food for the rest of your absence. In that case, consider purchasing an automated feeder or finding someone who can stop by to feed your cat.
  • Water: Cats need access to plenty of fresh water. If your kitty accidentally spills her bowl 10 minutes after you walk out of the door, she’ll find herself very thirsty much sooner than you expected. To prevent her from becoming parched, leave out multiple water dishes or pick up a cat water fountain.
  • Litter box: When the litter box becomes full, your cat will find another place to do her business. The last thing you want to come home to is a present on your pillow, so provide extra litter boxes for longer absences.
  • Entertainment and companionship: Though often independent by nature, cats don’t necessarily like to be isolated and they need regular stimulation. In a multi-cat household, cats will fare better because they can keep each other company. Otherwise leave the TV or radio on or set up a perch so your cat can watch out the window. 

Extended trips

If you are planning to be away for longer than 24 hours, it’s best that your kitty has some supervision, whether it’s a boarding facility, a house sitter, or someone who can drop in each day. Cats need companionship and stimulation, and if yours is an “only child,” she’ll especially feel the effects of your absence. 

Having someone to regularly check in with your cat is also a wise safety precaution in case something should happen. You can’t plan for the unexpected, like the air conditioner breaking on a hot summer day, or if your cat starts to show symptoms of a health condition. If you have any hesitations, it’s best to err on the safe side and hire a cat sitter who can make sure everything is alright and your kitty is comfortable and content.

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