Are you traveling this holiday season?
Sure, cats may have a reputation for being able to take care of themselves for long periods of time, but if you’re going away for the weekend, is it OK to just leave them home? How long can you really leave a cat unattended?
We’re here to help.
It’s first important to note that cats naturally form strong bonds with their humans, and will become lonely and or distressed if left alone for long periods of time. Of course in animals, loneliness = destruction oftentimes, as they get bored and become extra curious. Obviously every cat is different, but if you plan on leaving yours alone for a “long” period of time, there are some pretty good guidelines to follow.
If you plan to be gone for an entire day, most adult cats should be fine. To ensure that they don’t get too bored, though, it’s important to leave them with lots of entertainment. This would mean providing them with new toys, and even leaving the radio or TV on for soothing purposes.
In general, vets say it’s okay to leave a cat home for 24 hours once and a while, but it shouldn’t be a regular thing. As long as their litter box is cleaned right before you go, and you have self-filling water and food dishes to ensure that they have enough food and water, they should be fine on their own.
If you’re going to be gone more than one night though, you should arrange for your cat to go stay with a friend, or at least have someone come over to visit them and scoop their litter. If you think about it, would you want to be left alone in a single space with a dirty toilet and warm water? Probably not, and your cat feels the same.
It’s also important to consider that age makes a strong difference in the time period your cat can be okay by itself. If you have a kitten or a senior cat, leaving it home for an entire day or even more than a couple of hours is not a good idea. Really young kittens generally need feedings every 4-6 hours, and are still too curious to know better than to not eat or climb something dangerous. You can set up a kitten proof room, but you should still have someone come check on them a few times during the day, as they’re really just like human toddlers and shouldn’t be left unattended too long.
Senior cats can become stressed out a lot easier than adult cats if left alone too long, and their stress can pretty easily turn to illness due to their old age. In addition, a lot of older cats need frequent medication or extra feedings/ someone to make sure that they’re eating at all, and shouldn’t be left alone for a day without being checked on at the very least.
If you must leave your cat alone for more than a few hours, make sure that you set them up for success by giving them a meal before you leave, emptying their litter box, refilling the water dishes, and leaving plenty of exciting toys around.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pet store if you have questions on this or any pet related topic.