Most people perceive cats as being the “easy” pet because you can leave them alone for longer than a dog. The amount of time you can leave your cat alone for depends on the cat, but most cats can be left alone for up to three days with proper preparation. However, there are important things to consider and prepare for when leaving your cat alone that might not seem obvious.
How to Prepare to Leave Your Cat Alone
If you’re only going to be gone for less than a day you have a lot less to consider when leaving your cat alone. The most important thing here is to make sure your cat has access to food and water and a litter box.
If you’re going to be gone for longer, like up to three days, you’ll have a lot more preparation to do. You’ll want to leave out two bowls of dry food and two bowls of water. Remember, water can evaporate when left standing, so leaving two bowls will ensure some will be left when you get home.
- Safety proof your house – leave toilet seats down, prop open doors so cats can’t get trapped in rooms, close windows, and keep chemicals and potential toxins shut away.
- If your cat has access to the outdoors, it is probably safer to keep them in if you are not around. Outdoor cats are at risk of road traffic accidents, fights with other animals, trauma from falls, and toxins.
- Ensure there is plenty of fresh food and clean water, either fill several water bowls in case one gets knocked over, or consider a water fountain. Automatic cat feeders can be useful, as can microchip feeders (especially if you have multiple cats or cats on different diets).
- Ensure that litter boxes are clean, make sure that you have one available for each cat in the house plus one extra.
- Pet cameras can be useful to give you peace of mind and see what your cat is up to. Some even double up as treat dispensers!
- Pheromone diffusers can help reassure your cat, and prevent stress when they are alone.
- Consider leaving the television or some music on. Research into cats’ preferences has led to music written specifically for feline ears!
- Environmental enrichment helps prevent boredom and loneliness e.g. scratching posts, cat trees, puzzle feeders, and toys.
Other Important Considerations When Leaving Your Cat Alone
Most of these recommendations are generalizations, but there are some instances where we would not recommend you leave your cat alone for multiple days. For one, if your cat is a highly social cat and needs constant interaction, it might be really stressful to leave them alone for several days. In some cases the cat might pee outside the litter box or show other distressed behaviors.
Other instances include:
- If your cat needs to be taking medications regularly.
- If you cat needs a special wet food diet that must be administered regularly.
- If your cat is elderly and needs monitoring.
Will My Cat Be Bored While I’m Away?
Every cat responds to their owner leaving in different ways. Some cats need more human interaction than others, but most cats will experience some level of boredom if left they’re left alone for long periods of time. However, even if your cat feels some distress while you’re away, the experience shouldn’t leave them permanently traumatized. Cats return to normal within a few days of their owner returning.
You can help reduce boredom while you’re away by providing plenty of cat toys and even leaving the TV or music on.
If You’ll Be Gone Too Long
You shouldn’t leave your cat alone for longer than three days. If you must be gone longer, either find someone to look after your cat or board them.
If you’re lucky enough you’ll be able to find a friend or family member to stop by at least once per day to change out the food, water and litter box (every few days). Other services such as Rover let you hire someone to come by and care for your pet or take your pet to their house to board.
Boarding companies are also a good option if you want more consistent care. These sometimes require proof of vaccination and/or registration of your cat.