Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t like being left alone. Yes, they are independent and aloof, but they prefer being independent and aloof in people’s presence. After all, it isn’t much fun ignoring someone when there isn’t anyone around to ignore.
Cats, just like dogs, suffer from separation anxiety, which can lead to behavioural problems as well as serious health issues down the line. With this in mind, we are discussing how long you can leave your cat alone and what you can do to make the time apart easier on you, and more importantly, on your bundle of fluff.
As always, we have included our popular Frequently Asked Questions section at the end of the article.
Is It OK To Leave A Cat Alone For 12 Hours?
With lockdown easing and life slowly getting back to normal, many pet owners will be returning to office jobs or activities outside the home. While this is good news for us humans, your furry family members might not be as delighted.
This brings us to the question – is it OK to leave my cat alone for 12 hours? Yes, it is OK. In fact, cats that eat dry food can be left on their own for up to 48 hours if, and only if there is also fresh water available.
Kittens, on the other hand, should not be left without company for more than eight hours. To be more specific, kittens under four months shouldn’t be alone for more than four hours. While at six months old, they can be left on their own for approximately eight hours.
Which Cat Breeds Do Better Left On Their Own?
Suppose your job or lifestyle dictates that you are away from home fairly regularly. In that case, you might want to consider getting a cat breed that is low maintenance, independent and easier going than others.
These are our top 7 breeds that will do well, whether you are there or not.
This particular breed of cat can keep itself entertained for hours at a time and doesn’t need a lot of attention.
2. Norwegian Forest Cat
Sometimes mistaken for a Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest cat is content on its own. As long as it has food, water and a clean litter tray, it is happy.
3. American Wirehair
The American Wirehair is one of the most nonchalant cat breeds around and does exceptionally well when left to its own devices.
Persians, like Ocicats, are very good at keeping themselves busy. And when they are not doing that, they are napping. Like the other independent breeds listed here, a Persian wouldn’t know (or care) if you were home or not.
5. Scottish Fold
Although the Scottish Fold is very active and likes playing, it can keep itself busy. It also doesn’t demand a lot of attention from its owners.
6. Maine Coon
Known as the gentle giant of the cat world, the Maine Coon can be left on its own without causing havoc around your home. It is well-behaved, independent and an absolute pleasure to have around.
7. Russian Blue
Not only is the Russian Blue absolutely beautiful, but it is also one of the most laid-back breeds around. Happy in its own company, it requires very little attention or supervision.
Of course, it is essential to keep in mind that while these breeds do well with the minimum attention from their humans, how your cat will do depends on its personality, its health and the environment. Kittens, senior and sickly cats (regardless of their breed) shouldn’t be left on their own for extended periods.
But Is It OK To Leave My Cat On Its Own?
Some cats, when left on their own, will be OK. While others won’t do as well. The only way you will know if your cat is OK on its own is to monitor its behaviour when you are not there.
A few ways you can do this include:
- Setting up a camera – One of the simplest and most effective ways to see what your cat does when you are away is a pet home camera. Using your mobile phone, you can keep a close eye on your pet to see how it copes when you aren’t there.
- Checking the house – A quick check around the house will give you a good idea of what your kitty gets up to when you are not around. For example, a warm cat bed means it sleeps while you are out. While a scratched or torn up piece of furniture means it is stressed when left alone.
- Keep an eye on your cat’s general behaviour – a content cat will use its litter tray, eat regularly and groom itself normally. However, a cat that is experiencing separation anxiety will display behavioural problems, including a lack or loss of appetite or messing outside of its litter box.
Can I Leave My Cat Alone For 3 Days?
If your cat is used to you being away for several days at a time, there is no reason you can’t leave it alone for 72 hours. However, you will need to plan beforehand so that your pet stays happy, healthy and stress-free in your absence.
Below are five key factors to keep in mind, and plan around if you will be away from your cat for an extended period.
1. Meals and water
While some cat owners are happy to leave food in a bowl for the time they are away, others turn to technology. One of the easiest ways to ensure your pet has access to food is with an automatic cat feeder. Like this one, newer models are suitable for dry and wet food and come with a built-in ice pack. We especially like that you can programme the feeder to serve up to five meals in total, which takes care of your cat’s mealtimes while you are away.
To make sure your cat has access to clean and fresh drinking water, it might be worth getting a water fountain. Yes, a good old bowl filled with water will also do the trick, but it could be spilt over, and the water can get dirty.
Before you leave, make sure your cat’s litter boxes are clean and filled with new litter. As you know, cats don’t enjoy using smelly old litter trays and could very well end up using your entire home as their toilet. To stop this from happening, we suggest placing several litter trays around the house, especially in rooms your cat likes to hang out in.
3. Health and safety
Cats left alone are bound to explore, which means getting stuck in some precarious situations. If you are away for two or three days, make sure the washing machine and tumble dryer doors are closed, possible escape routes are blocked off, and the shed and garage doors are correctly shut.
If you have an elderly cat or one that requires medication, get a neighbour or friend to visit every day to give your pet any medicine it needs.
You should also:
- Leave the contact details of your vet in case of an emergency
- Ask a neighbour to pop in once a day to make sure your cat is safe
- Get a tracking system for your free-roaming cat, or in case your indoor kitty gets out
Your cat must have plenty of things to do while you are away. Toys and other activities will keep boredom at bay. Popular options include:
If lockdown has taught us anything, companionship is critical, even for the most stand-offish of cats. If you will be leaving your cat on its own for eight, 12, or 72 hours, ensure it has some form of company. This could be someone popping in for an hour or two, or if that’s not possible, leaving the radio or TV on in your absence.
Can I Leave My Cat Alone For 5 Days?
Even for the most independent cat, five days without someone looking after it is a long time. Rather than leaving your pet alone for this amount of time, we suggest two possible options:
- Cat sitters
- Boarding kennels or cattery
Take note that you will need to make arrangements for either of these beforehand.
Cats thrive on routine and being in a familiar environment, which is why we recommend getting a pet sitter that comes to your house. A reputable sitter will know how to take care of your pet. But to make the process a lot easier, it is a good idea to have the most crucial information handy.
Put together a document that includes:
- A telephone number where you can be contacted
- Contact details of your vet
- Contact details of a friend or family member in case of an emergency
- Your cat’s feeding times
- Any medication information (times, doses, etc.)
- Any notable quirks or personality traits the sitter should know about
Before you leave, you should stock up on food and cat litter and show the sitter where everything is in the house. Most professional sitters will ask to meet with you before you leave. This allows them to meet you face-to-face and also be introduced to your cat. During this time, you can share any bits of information that will keep your pet calm and happy while you are away.
A cattery or boarding kennel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes it is the only option. To help find the best cattery in your area and what you need to look out for, take a look at this article.
As difficult as it may be, there are times when your cat will need to be left on its own. Hopefully we have provided you with the information and tools to make this time apart stress-free for your moggy and guilt-free for you.
As always, we love hearing from you. This time we want to know what you do when you are away from your furry family for a couple of days. Just drop us a message in the comments section below.