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How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?

How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?

Even though cats are usually more independent than dogs, they can get lonely and need the company of their owners to be happy and adjusted. Today, our Kinston vets explain how long cats can be left home alone and how you can ensure your kitty has everything they need.

The Independent Cat Myth

Cat owners are well aware that their feline friends are often more sociable than commonly perceived. This raises the question: do cats experience loneliness? Just like humans, cats exhibit a wide range of personalities.

While some cats may consistently prefer solitude and keep to themselves, others eagerly welcome their owners with meows and accompany them throughout the house. Consequently, some cats may adapt more easily to being alone than others, as their individual personalities play a significant role. However, it's important to note that all cats require the companionship of their humans, albeit to varying degrees.

Your Cat's Age When Leaving Them Alone

Cats that are very young, very old, or have underlying health issues tend to be more vulnerable and require more attention than healthy middle-aged cats. So remember to take extra care when leaving kittens, senior cats, and cats with medical conditions alone.

Kittens & Young Cats

Typically, kittens require feeding about 3 to 4 times a day until they reach around 6 months of age. It's important to note that young cats can get themselves into trouble if left unsupervised.

For kittens under 4 months old, it's recommended not to leave them alone for more than 4 hours at a time. If you anticipate that your cat will need to adjust to being alone due to your lifestyle, it's advisable to gradually train them by increasing the duration of time you spend away from home. Consult your veterinarian for specific guidance on acclimating your kitten to being home alone.

Once your kitten reaches 6 months of age, if you anticipate being away for an extended period, it's best to arrange for a friend or family member to take care of your cat at their place. If that's not feasible, you can have someone visit your home once or twice a day to ensure your young cat's safety, provide sufficient food, and offer social interaction to combat boredom.

In situations where you have a young kitten and need to be away from home for more than 2 to 4 hours, pet boarding presents an ideal solution. Many boarding facilities offer excellent care for cats of all ages, providing ample love and attention to ensure their well-being.

Healthy Adult Cats

In some cases, it could be okay to leave your healthy, middle-aged 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 their own for a day or two make sure the temperature in your home isn't too hot or too cold, that there is enough (dry) food left out for your cat to eat while you're away, and that there is lots of clean drinking water. It's also a good idea to make sure that the litter box is completely clean before you leave.

You can help keep your cat from feeling lonely or prevent them from getting into trouble by taking them to a trusted pet boarding facility in your neighborhood. Pet boarding can provide you with the freedom to leave home knowing your kitty is safe and being well taken care of while you are away.

Senior Cats & Cats With Underlying Health Conditions

Older cats can be quite sensitive to changes in their daily routines, which can cause them significant stress and potentially lead to health issues and digestive problems.

It's not uncommon for senior cats to require additional meals or medications throughout the day. Due to these factors, leaving your senior cat alone overnight may not be the best idea. Fortunately, many pet boarding facilities provide round-the-clock care specifically tailored to animals in need of extra attention and care, particularly those who are unwell or elderly. Boarding can be an excellent option for ensuring that your senior cat receives the necessary TLC in your absence.

If boarding is not feasible, it's advisable to arrange for someone to visit your home twice a day to check on your senior cat. This way, you can ensure they are in good health and provide any necessary assistance.

Since your veterinarian is familiar with your senior cat's unique needs and condition, it's recommended to consult with them regarding how long they believe it is safe to leave your kitty alone. They can provide valuable insights and guidance based on their knowledge and expertise.

Tips for Leaving Your Cat When You Need to be Away

If you are planning to be away from home talk 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.  Meanwhile, here are a few tips to help make sure your cat stays safe while you are gone:

  • We strongly recommend that you have someone check on your cat once or twice a day while you are gone, to ensure your kitty is safe and has enough food and water for the duration of your absence.
  • Consider leaving a radio or tv on, so your cat can hear voices while you are away. It could help alleviate your cat's boredom.
  • 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 your cat's water stay fresher and cleaner while you're gone.
  • Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to rotate the food and keep it fresher.
  • If your cat is particularly fussy about their litter box you may want to leave 2 clean and fresh litter boxes out for them.
  • Check the weather and be sure that your thermostat is set so your home will remain at a comfortable temperature while you're away.
  • Bring your kitty to a local pet boarding facility. Cat boarding facilities can provide your feline friend with a clean place to stay where they will be well cared for, and given lots 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.

If you're planning on leaving your cat at home alone for the first time, contact our Kinston veterinarians with any questions or concerns.

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Five Oaks Animal Hospital is thrilled to be accepting new patients! Our qualified vets are passionate about the health of Kinston companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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