Cats Home Alone

Cat home alone

Cat home alone

We should be aware of what our cat gets up to when alone at home. The video below is a tough one to watch. There is no violence, just nothing but transparent loneliness and obvious separation anxiety. Heartbreaking.

I was reading about a British, Channel 4 television program1. It concluded that an estimated one in four of the 8 million dogs in Britain became “deeply unhappy when left home alone”. That is 2 million upset dogs on a daily basis in the UK. It makes you think.

The program is not yet released but it got me thinking again about cats. I believe that cats are just as likely to be upset about being at home alone. The video above is an example.

Comments on YouTube under the video are like these:

“Many people seem to think cats are solitary animals but it just isn’t so. My cat is my constant companion.

wow i cried. His voice is like hello? hello? hey open it up plz/ Hello?

I stumbled on this video when searching online for ways to comfort my cat while I’m at work. It made me want to leave work and go home right now…”

 Search results for “separation” on PoC

I feel guilty and bad when I see this video. When I was working full-time while living alone I left my cat, Binnie, alone all day. As I worked as a locum I was able to take long periods off work and be with her all the time during those months. Ironically, that may have heightened her unhappiness when I was working.

The problem was that I didn’t know if she was unhappy when I was away. However, I believe that as she got older she become more stressed with being alone. It upsets me to think about it. At the time I was not so intune with a cat’s needs and feelings.

I am far more “cat-aware” these days, which confirms what we on PoC constantly return to: good cat caretaking is about education. Today, I am cat educated. It was not always like that.

A worry for all cat caretakers who are absent all day is that (a) we don’t know what our cat (or dog) is doing when we are away and (b) even when a cat or a dog is quiet and looks content, he may be stressed. The signs of stress may not be the ones we expect to see.

Cat stress can be shown in urinary tract disease such as cystitis, which leads to inappropriate urination and OCD such as overgrooming. As for dogs they can self-harm, bark, yelp and urinate when stressed because of separation anxiety1.

Dogs can be left at a canine centre if one is available. I would expect them to be rare.

One other aspect of modern life, which results in cats being left home alone for long periods is that the cat’s owner has no choice. If the person, through education about cats, becomes sensitive to her cat’s needs and stresses caused by being alone, she may relinquish her cat. That is an undesirable alternative.

The video below shows the RSPCA’s former chief vet Mark Evens setting up cameras in his home to see what his dog gets up to when he is away.

Important note: Marc, a important member of the PoC family works hard and has to leave his cats at home. Message to Marc: Don’t be upset by this article. I know you do a great job to overcome the problems of being forceably separated because of work commitments (Marc uses computer systems to monitor his cats and he knows what they get up to).

The first step is to know what your cat is doing when you are away. We cannot make the assumption that cats are loners and solitary and therefore content to be alone. Domestic cats have evolved into fairly sociable animals and we, their carerakers, are their best buddies. They will probably miss us when we are working our butts off trying to get on at work.

Many people keep more than one cat to provide company. I am sure this helps. Cat buddies should be chosen with care to ensure they get along otherwise it is just another stressor.  Letting a cat explore safely outdoors (cation or cat enclosure for example) is also another way to alleviate stress in a home alone cat.

I feel guilty and sad writing this and while watching the video at the top of the page.

Ref: 1. Sunday Times

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Cats Home Alone — 8 Comments

  1. Oh that video is sad, that poor little cat’s cry is a lonely one and it looks to me as if he isn’t used to being alone.
    I think like everything else that happens to cats, they accept it, if their routine is to be left alone then a single cat probably eventually just curls up and sleeps the lonely time away every day.
    I think people who have to leave their cat for long hours should, like Marc, always have at least another cat to keep each other company, even if they don’t bother with each other they know there is someone else there.
    Walter and Jozef get quite upset when one of them has to go to the vets for any reason, the one left at home usually comes sniffing the cat basket and his ‘brother’ when we return.
    Don’t feel guilty Michael, we can only learn about cat caretaking as we go through life, we aren’t born with that knowledge, we are only pathetic human beings. Good people are always willing to learn more and pass on what they learn to make this a better world for all cats and you are one good person.

    • Yes when Molly and Gigi went for their operation Lilly got depressed immediately. Lilly has been through alot of loss. She lost Pepi who just dissappeared and she left her friends to come here and then she lost Red. After she lost Red it was just too much for her but she had her little kittens and she loved them so when they went off for a day she must have felt awful. When I got back from dropping them off at the vets she was totally not herself. She was curled in a ball and wouldn’t come down from the cat tree, she just stayed in a little ball with her eyes open. So sad. When they came back again that evening it was all ok in the end. I promise to never take Lilly away from her Gigi and Molly ever no matter what. I will also write some kind of will or something saying they must never be separated. I’d hate for Lilly to lose another close friend. Red was a serious blow to both of us. We both moped around for nearly 6 weeks. She was totally depressed.

      I can imagine Ruth if you take one of them to the vet it’s pretty awful. However unlike Lilly they must be familiar with the situation and know the other one is coming back later as usual. I brought Red home and put him on the floor for Lilly to see and the kittnes too but sadly Lilly must have a thing where if one goes away a bit long or suddenly she must get a seriously heavy sinking feeling based on her experiences of them never coming back, alive or at all. She loved Pepi and grew up with him (tabby) and looked up to him I think – he never came home one day. Awful. When she left to come here she left behind her best friend Nushka who she loved dearly and the 2 kittens you saw on the last article. Poor Lilly. She so social too.

      • Pepi used to cry just like that when left alone. The way I found out was I was on skype with my ex and she popped out to the shop and Pepi started crying exactly like that. I was on skype so I called to him and that calmed him down. I just remembered this now actually. Pepi didn’t like to be left alone locked in an apartment. He hated it – it made him very unhappy. He would poop everywhere. He needed to go out. But for a short period he had to live in a place that was high up from the ground so no access. I remember him crying just like that. He almost sounded like he was talking. Same.

  2. Very sad – I know this video. The very first few days I brought Red to our new home I had to keep him inside because he’d been operated on the way from his old place to here and he needed to get used to the new place before going outside. That lasted about 6 days. The first 4 days I stayed with him at home, only leaving once or twice to the shop for food etc. He was quite confused and stayed very close to me, perhaps the only unhappy few days in his whole life. Of course I took days off work but the time came that I had to go to work. Lilly had not arrived yet so he would be alone and locked inside – something he’d never experienced before. There were about 2 days where I left in the morning early for a full day of work and raced home for half an hour at lunch time and then away again after which I returned at around 6 as soon as I possibly could after work was over. Luckily I was near enough to be able to check in on him at lunch time.

    We had been playing outside in a beautiful garden for hours just the week before. Being right next to my office I’d go there and play for a little over an hour at lunch and then back again at 530 nd I’d stay all evening usually. He was free to go in and out and he had his grandmother who loved to play with him although his mum totally rejected him which seemed pretty hard on him at the time because the other kitten had gone so no more playmates. His grandmother (Gigi’s mama) did a great job of filling the gap when I was not there and the kittens were all gone. But the point I am making really is the change was drastic. I felt a little like I betrayed him. I saw him unhappy for the first time and it was awful. I let him outside withing 6 days because I couldn’t bare to see him unhappy and I trusted he’d be ok – he’d come back to me. I was hi everything pretty much so I didn’t expect him to run off. But the way he looked at me when I came home was terrible. Almost like ‘how could you do this to me – what’s this all about – it doesn’t make sense – whats going on’ – I hated it. I couldn’t handle it at all actually. Very sad. Cats need freedom to go outside. He would have been pissed off at me if he was still alowed out at least but being locked in – this was like torture. He was sad and desperate as well as just angry and missing me. I must say those few days were extremely tricky. After that the xmas holidays came and then Lilly came and everything was fine because anyway he was allowed out. But it was still awful leaving.

    I used to have to run up the roasd and around the corner so he wouldn’t follow me. I’d peep around the corner to check and see him down the road just sitting looking in my direction. I would have be quick to he couldn’t catch because he’d follow me all the way otherwise I am sure of it. When I returned from work he’d be sitting on the wall beside the front door. He got used to it. Soon he wasn’t even at home when I got home, and sometimes not there when I left. But if I did anything out of the ordinary he’d look worried. The last day before he died I had to pop out for about 2 hours in the evening. He chased me again. And when I came back home I went straight around back into the garden and he was there – he came running. I felt awful because I had left him suddenkly amidst playing in the garden which was clearly his favourite pastime. Nothing seemed to beat playing in the garden. When I got back I spent a couple of hours with him in the garden playing and then cuddling with him. I was so extra sorry abou tit that night. Lilly came along too (you saw the photo) – but I really wanted to make up for dumping him like that so I did. I stayed out with him until it got dark.

    I never saw him again after that. Funny how the worst and the best happened at the end almost simultaneously. I am lucky it was in that order. Gigi and Molly were inside locked in my bedroom by this stage.

    When I was visiting him at his first home I was visiting and leaving it was somehow different. Then at our home I was leaving him and then coming back. It was different. I know I made him unhappy. I know the new kittens was something. I knew my being busy and then a bit busy at home with the new kittens was something. Sometimes I feel like he maybe felt somewhat evicted. But it’s not true. I’m told my eyes would always light up when he came home from an outing. I’d drop everything because I was excited to see him and he wasn’t around much sometimes. And that last evening I did make up for leaving him in the middle of our special time – as soon as I got back and I know I did. He was happy. We lay around on the grass with Lilly for ages. I did not leave until he wanted to leave. It was part of my way of saying sorry – to give him everything he wanted until he’d had enough and that’s what happened and he slowly got up and started off in one direction of another to begin his walk around the nearby gardens with Lilly. I saw them once out the window walking together just before dark – they used to walk around together nearby and look at stuff andplay a bit and then Lilly would come home. Lilly came home and Red was out on his adventures – and that’s where it ended for him. Not with me. I think I lost the privelidge by being busy, working etc He would have gladly played with me outside all the time I think but when I lay down then he’d hang around and then go explore. I could never possibly have had enough time for him having a job and all. How I wish I could have spent countless hours with him into the night and during the day at home with him because he’d sleep at home alot more in the day time. He never came home to sleep the next day. Very sad indeed. It’s important also for me to remember that he loved Lilly – they loved eachother so much. He would have loved for her to go with him on adventures I’m sure of it. He was a great cat – a true cat in touch with his wild roots and a free spirit.

  3. Well, at least he is being given food and shelter and it is not abandoned, we learn more when we see situations like these

  4. Oh poor little cat, so lonely, that must be happening all over the world too. The thing is we can all only do our best, we have to work and if everyone who works thought it best not to have a cat then there would be that many less cats with homes. Neither Marc nor Michael has any reason to feel guilty or upset, two more cat-minded gentlemen I’ve yet to across and we’re all learning all the time every day we learn more and maybe wish we’d done things differently but at the time we did our best. I think maybe the video above is an extreme case and I think that most cats left alone would make the best of it and curl up and snooze the time away.

  5. When I was in Canada and lived with my cat Gigi there she would be very vocal about it if I was gone for a long time. It was different though and many periods I was working from home so we had eachother alot although I’d be busy at home too which she sometimes found hard. We did everything together. Even when I worked in the yard on bikes or something she’d come and sit with me and patrol around a bit. If I had a day job away from home she didn’t like it at all. She’d come running and jump up on my shoulder while I was still riding my bike sometimes. I started a little screen printing business with a friend and would sometimes be gone all night and the next day and when I got to my street I’d see her way down the alleyway, as it was, waiting for me, or so it looked like. She’d see me from 150 meters away or hear me or whatever and come running. She didn’t like being alone. I feel awful about the times I left her alone.

    But most of all I feel awful about having to leave Canada. That was something else. I was a disaster and I wasn’t there to see how she managed. To this day whenever a boy comes to the house she jumps to attention. She is living with her sibling and my ex. We got 2 kittens together and each chose one of us and when we broke up we each took our cat with us. So she is back with her family so to speak. That was very hard. Leaving Canada would have been a breeze otherwise by comparism – I had lived alone with Gigi for about 7 years. It was hard. Cats shouldn’t be left at home. Especially if they are alone. And expecially if they are not allowed outside. But most of all no cat should be left at home alone as well as not being able to go outside. Like I did with Red for those few days. This is very hard I don’t doubt it for both human and more so for cat.

  6. It’s a sad and lonely world for some animals and I can’t bear to think of cats shut in cages in shelters,the nights must be endless to them and there isn’t even freedom to look forward to next morning,just another day shut in.
    I know it’s not nice cats being left alone in their homes but they are much better off than homeless cats.

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