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How long can you leave a cat home alone?

While we might consider our feline companions to be incredibly independent they still can get lonely and require some attention and care. Our Bakersfield vets talk about how long you can leave a cat alone and how to make their alone time a success.

Are cats really as independent as we think?

If you own a cat you are aware that although we are always led to believe that cats crave independence, they are actually very social and love getting lots of attention.

Even so, not all cats are the same, they each will have their own personality and preferences when it comes to socializing. While it is possible for some cats to prefer to be left alone most of the time, there are other cats who happily greet their owners at the door when they get home from work each day then follow their owner 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.

Why your cat's age is important

Your cat's age matters when it comes to the amount of attention that they require. If you have a very young cat or if they are a senior they will require more attention than a healthy middle-aged cat might. As do cats with health concerns. So be sure to take extra care when leaving cats with health conditions, kittens and senior cats alone.

Leaving kittens alone

If you have a kitten then they will need to be fed every 3 to 4 hours until they are roughly 6 months old. Kittens also require more constant monitoring as they have a tendency to get themselves into trouble through playing and exploring in their environment. Our vets recommend that you do not leave kittens under 4 months old on their own for any longer than 4 hours at a time. If you know that your lifestyle means that your cat will need to get used to time alone, begin training your kitten by gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of the house. Your vet will be able to provide valuable insight and advice into how to prepare your new kitten for quiet time each day.

After your cat turns 6 months they no longer require constant attention but still need to be cared for at regular intervals. if you need to be away for an extended amount of time it may be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their house to care for them. If that's not possible, have someone pop by your place once or twice a day to check in on your young cat to make sure they are safe, have plenty to eat, and get some social interaction to relieve boredom. 

The best option for leaving cats and kittens alone for more than 2 to 4 hours is to enroll them in a boarding facility or have them stay with family or friends.

Leaving senior cats & cats with medical conditions

Older cats have needs that require a bit more consistency, which means that it is best to avoid any sudden changes in their routine or lifestyle. Stress can lead to an increased risk of health conditions and stomach problems. Your senior cat most likely will also require extra care through feeding and medications. Because of this, it is not recommended to leave your older cat alone for the duration of an entire night. Many pet boarding facilities provide round-the-clock care for animals in need of a little extra TLC while their owners are away, making pet boarding an ideal option for senior or unwell cats. If your cat must stay home alone, have someone visit your house twice a day to check on your senior cat. 

Speak with your vet to get an idea of how long you can safely leave your cat if they are aging or suffer from a medical condition.

Leaving adult cats alone

If you have a healthy and happy adult cat then it may be possible to leave them for a day or two. The length of time that you are able to leave them depends upon a number of factors including your cat's personality, your living conditions, and whether they are used to spending time alone. There are some things that you need to ensure If your cat is going to be left home alone for a day or two such as ensuring that your home's temperature 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 plenty clean drinking water! It's also a good idea to make sure that the litter box is completely clean before you leave. 

As always the best option for leaving your pet is to have them stay with a family member or friend or to book them into a boarding facility where they will receive constant care.

How to make your cat comfortable and safe while home alone

there are some things that you can do to ensure that your cat's time at home alone is a success.

  • Speak 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.
  • We strongly recommend that you have someone check on your kitty once or twice a day while you are gone, to ensure that your kitty is safe and has enough food and water for the duration of your absence. 
  • Check the weather and be sure that your thermostat is set so that your home will remain at a comfortable temperature while you're away.
  • Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to ration the food and keep it fresher.
  • 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 to help your cat's water fresher and cleaner while you're gone.
  • 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 tv on so that your cat hears voices while you are away. It may help to relieve your cat's boredom.
  • Take your cat to a local pet boarding facility. Cat boarding facilities can offer your kitty a clean and bright place to stay where they will be well cared for, and provided with 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.

will you be spending some time away from home and have questions about caring for your cat during that time? Contact your Bakersfield vet to discuss how to safely leave your cat home alone.

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