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How Long Can You Leave a Cat Home Alone?

Cats may seem aloof, but evidence suggests that cats do get lonely, and of course, they need us to provide them with all the things they need to thrive. Here, our Memphis vets explain how long you can leave a cat alone, and give tips for keeping your cat safe and content while you are away.

The Myth of the Independent Cat

Cat parents know that our feline friends are much more sociable than their reputation might have us believe.

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

Your Cat's Age Matters When Leaving Them Alone

Cats who are very old or very young are more vulnerable and require more attention than cats who are in their middle years. Cats with health issues have the same problem. As a result, extra caution should be exercised when leaving cats with health issues, kittens, or senior cats alone.

Young Cats & Kittens

Kittens need to be fed three or four times a day until they reach the age of six months. When young cats are left alone, they are prone to mischief. Kittens under the age of four months should not be left alone for more than four hours at a time. If you know your cat will need to get used to being alone because of your lifestyle, start training your kitten by gradually increasing the amount of time you are gone. Consult your veterinarian for advice on how to best acclimate your kitten to being left alone at home.

If you need to be away for an extended period of time after your kitten has reached the age of six months, it may be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their home to care for them. If that's not possible, have someone come by once or twice a day to check on your young cat to make sure they're safe, eating well, and getting enough social interaction to keep them from becoming bored.

If you have a young kitty and need to be away from home for more than 2-4 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 & Cats With Health Issues

Changes to their normal day can be stressful for older cats who are sensitive to routines. Stress can increase your risk of developing health problems and stomach problems. Senior cats may also require additional feedings or medication throughout the day. For these reasons, leaving your senior cat alone overnight may not be a good idea. Many pet boarding facilities offer round-the-clock care for animals in need of extra attention while their owners are away, making it an ideal option for senior or ill cats. If your senior cat must remain at home alone, have someone come to your house twice a day to check on him.

Your vet knows your senior cat best, speak to your vet about how long they believe your cat can safely be left alone.

Middle-Aged Cats

In some cases, leaving your healthy adult cat alone for 24 to 48 hours may be acceptable. Of course, this will depend on a variety of factors, including your cat's personality, living conditions, and whether or not they are accustomed to being alone. If you're leaving your cat alone for a day or two, make sure the temperature in your home isn't too hot or cold, that there's enough (dry) food for your cat to eat while you're gone, and that there's plenty of clean drinking water! It's also a good idea to double-check that the litter box is clean before leaving.

Taking your cat to a reputable pet boarding facility in your area can help prevent your cat from becoming lonely or mischievous. Pet boarding allows you to leave the house knowing that your cat will be safe and well cared for while you are gone.

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.

  • Consult your veterinarian to see if they have any reservations about your cat being left alone. Your veterinarian is familiar with your cat's health issues and is the best person to give you advice on his or her well-being.
  • We strongly advise having someone check on your cat once or twice a day while you are away to ensure that he or she is safe and has enough food and water to last the duration of your absence.
  • Check the weather forecast and make sure your thermostat is set to maintain a comfortable temperature while you're gone.
  • Make sure your cat has enough food to last the duration of your absence. To ration the food and keep it fresher, you might want to invest in an automated pet feeder.
  • Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water in a sturdy bowl that won't spill. Water fountains for cats are available at pet stores. While you're away, these handy devices can help keep your cat's water fresh and clean.
  • 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 television on while you're gone so your cat can hear voices. It might be able to alleviate your cat's boredom.
  • Take your cat to a pet boarding facility in your area. Cat boarding facilities can provide your kitty with a clean, bright environment in which they will be well cared for and have 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.

Ensure that your feline family member is well cared for while you're away. Pet boarding at Southwind Animal Hospital offers cats a safe and friendly home-away-from-home. Your cat will be well cared for and loved by our team of veterinary professionals. Contact us today to learn more.

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