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How long can you leave a cat home alone?

While cats may give off the aura of being independent and carefree, they actually quite enjoy the company of others. Today, our Grass Valley vets talk about how long you can leave your cat alone at home and what you can do to ensure their comfort while you are gone.

Do cats really like to be alone?

Your cat is much more sociable than they may lead you to believe. Even so, each cat has their own personality and preferences. 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 every day and follow you around the house meowing. Do cats get lonely? Many actually do, so it is important to help them adjust to time alone if you plan on being out of the house for a while.

Can you leave your cat at home alone at any age?

While healthy, adult cats may do just fine with being left at home, kittens, senior cats and those with medical issues may require extra care and attention that can't be provided if you are away.

Leaving Kittens & Young Cats at Home

Until six months of age, you should expect to feed your kitten three to four times a day. Kittens and young cats also have a habit of getting into mischief like knocking things off of tables, climbing furniture and even chewing on wires and other household items. Kittens under 4 months old shouldn't be left on their own for more than 4 hours at a time. If you know your cat will need to get used to being alone because of your lifestyle, start training them by gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of the house. Ask your vet for specific instructions on how you can get your kitten used to being home alone.

Once your kitten is six months old, if you have to be away for an extended amount of time, we recommend having 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 enough food to eat, and get some social interaction to relieve boredom.

If you have a young kitty and need to be away from home for more than two to four hours, pet boarding is the ideal solution. Many boarding facilities offer high-quality care for cats of any age, complete with lots of love and attention.

Healthy Adult Cats Spending Time Alone

If left with adequate food and water, you may be able to leave your healthy, adult cat for a day or so. Of course, this will depend upon several 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, and that there is enough dry food and clean drinking water left out for your cat to eat and drink while you're away. It's important to leave out dry food and not wet food because bacteria can rapidly multiply in wet food that has been left out uncovered for an extended period. It's also a good idea to make sure that the litter box is completely clean before you leave. However, you should still consider finding alternative care for your feline friend if you won't be home.

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.

Can you leave senior cats or cats with health conditions alone?

Senior cats follow a daily routine and can sometimes have health issues that require specific care or management. Stress can result in an increased risk of health conditions and stomach problems. It's also common for senior cats to require extra feedings or medication throughout the day. For these reasons, it may not be a good idea to leave your senior cat alone overnight. Lots of pet boarding facilities offer round-the-clock care for animals that require a little extra TLC while their owners are gone, making boarding an ideal option for cats who are unwell or elderly. If you need to be away from home and your cat needs to stay, you should consider alternative care like having a trusted friend or relative stay with them or hire a pet sitter.

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

What do cats do when they are alone?

Many pet parents wonder what their cat will get up to while you are away from the house. There are a few activities that seem to be common among cats.

After you've left the house your cat may spend some time looking out the window at nature and people passing by and if you have other animals then playtime may be in order. Some cats also enjoy watching a TV that has been left on or playing with their toys. Of course, you might also come home to a sleepy cat who spent the entire time doing nothing other than napping.

How to Ensure Your Cat's Comfort While They're Home Alone

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 well-being. 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.

At Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital, we can provide your cat with a safe and welcoming home away from home with our boarding services. Contact our Grass Valley vets today to learn more or to schedule your kitty's stay.

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Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for pets in the Grass Valley area. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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