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Leaving a Cat at Home Alone

Leaving a Cat at Home Alone

by Michael
(London, UK)

Hi, I'd like to hear the views of visitor on leaving cats at home alone. The way I see it, we can leave cats alone at home but the question is for how long.

I have never done it. But I am thinking about visiting my brother in Norfolk and the journey time is a four hour round trip.

I would like to stay overnight; but there, I believe, is the limit. If I travel up there and travel back within, say, a 15 hour time frame, I think that during that time it is alright to leave my cats alone.

They could be kept indoors and plenty of food and water left out. In summer months it would be dry food as wet can go off quite quickly. The litter could be freshly done and in good order.

The real question is can we leave cats home alone for 24 hours or 36 hours and more. I think 24 hours is probably the maximum. As I said, I prefer a long waking hours day (15 - 18 hours) to leave them alone.

It would seem that the limit is really about litter cleaning more that anything else. Litter needs to be cleaned etc. every 24 hours, at a minimum. Sometimes it should be done twice per day (24 hours) in my opinion.

But some good cat caretakers will probably have better ideas. They may have better methods in dealing with a cat alone at home.

It seems that another major factor is whether the cat is an indoor/outdoor cat or a full-time indoor cat. Outdoor cats are obviously more at risk and we need, therefore, to be around to deal with emergencies etc.

Full-time indoor cats are more convenient to cat caretakers, which is one major reason why they are full-time indoor cats. It is not solely to do with the cat's welfare.

Clearly if a trusted neighbor could pop in a check on the cats and renew the food and water plus do the litter, the time for leaving cats alone could be extended considerably.

Anyone got some good ideas on this? Maybe playing cat music or leaving the television on helps or even harp therapy for cats. I don't know.

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Leaving a Cat at Home Alone

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Mar 25, 2011
Great comments
by: Michael

Excellent comments, I think. I also think that it does depend on the cat and person as to how long a cat can be at home. Routines are important. If they are broken the cat might feel anxiety. If the routines include little time away then the cat is more sensitive to being home alone, even for short periods.

As I am at home a lot I think my cats would miss me quite quickly. So it is not just about food and litter etc. but the emotional state of our cats and how that is affected by a change in routine and absence of the human.

Thanks for the enlightened comments.

Mar 24, 2011
Cats can tell time
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

I don't know if Monty is aware of how long something goes on, such as my absence, but he seems to know at what time of day things should happen. If I try to sleep in he gets very upset. It's like he knows it's not my usual routine. Cats must have some sense of time because of their love of routines. Monty wakes up the same time each day, he has his active times and rest times at about the same time each day. It's not how long you're gone, it's all about how long you are usually gone. Anything over what is your normal routine of coming and going is probably upsetting to the cat.

Mar 24, 2011
by: Elisa

We have one of those DVD's that babysit your cat. You can put the dvd on when you're there with the cats and they totally ignore it. But put it on when you're going to be gone a few hours and you'll walk back in and catch them going after the fish, gerbils, etc. I'd be afraid to leave my cats alone for anything more than a day trip. I was raised by a paranoid mother and I'm always afraid something would happen. I did hear it on a talk show the other night that dogs can't tell whether you're gone 5 minutes or 5 hours and I wonder if cats are the same way.

Mar 23, 2011
My thoughts
by: Ruth

We would never leave our cats alone for more than a day trip and even then feel we are cheating them.
Yes you can leave food, water and clean litter trays, you can leave music or TV on and a few of your worn clothes lying around with your familiar scents on for the cats to lie on.
BUT, cats can get ill very quickly and 2 days without eating can cause serious illness or even death.
Accidents can happen in the home and also supposing someone broke in ? They could hurt the cats or the cats could escape through whichever way the burglar entered.
They are the worst scenarios of course and there are times when you have to go places and leave your cats.
Yours will miss you of course Michael but as you won't be away that long the chances are they will be OK, although they might not be speaking to you by you return.
But it is irresponsible and unkind to leave cats alone for days on end like some people think is acceptable.You should have someone popping in daily, better still twice daily, if you are away for more than a day and a night.
If you don't have a friend to oblige, then ask your vet to recommend a cat sitter.

Mar 22, 2011
2 egyptian mou girls


Mar 22, 2011
Depends on your cat(s)
by: Anonymous

I think it all depends on your cat. I once had a cat that when I wouldn't come home after work he would poop in the middle of the living room floor. I had to come home than go out than he would be good.

Now I have another cat who is bulimic. Okay he isn't but if I don't give him furball remedy every couple of days he will throw up his food not fur. I assume that's the problem. But since he is very skinny I feed him dry all day and wet food at least twice a day.

So with this mr. finicky, I would leave Friday evening and come back Sunday Morning. If any longer I pay ($15.00) my neighbor to come twice a day to feed him for longer trips. So if I leave him on Friday and come back late Sunday I would have my neighbor come on Saturday.

In general if my cat was normal I would feel comfortable leaving him Friday night to Sunday night. But if he were to mess up the house in anyway than I would adjust the time or find someone to visit.

Good luck. Bring him with you if you can since 4 hour round trip isn't bad at all.

Mar 22, 2011
Home alone
by: Dorothy

I believe more than 18 hours is a lot. My bigfoot isn't very social - and spends lots of time alone, and seeks me out when he's in the mood. He'll usher me upstairs like a sheep dog so he doesn't have to share our together time with the rest of the family. He cracks me up. That said, when we do leave for several days I have someone come and hang with him for a couple hours each day to clean the litter, feed him, fresh water and lots of hugs. I'm told he appreciates it with lots of head butts and allows the visitor to pet him. He doesn't make much fuss when I do get home, so he doesn't let on if he's unhappy.

If I were to ever leave him for 24 hours, I'd put an extra litter box out. He HATES going in soiled sand especially 'big business'. He is very fussy. I can't blame him. I clean his box at least twice a day.

It becomes harder and harder to go away with my husband anymore between Bigfoot the cat, Daisy the dog, and now two outside cats to feed. One being feral, but she has a regular schedule now, and the second cat is her companion cat who two-times his real family by spending half time here, and eating heartily.

Ahh, life with our furry friends. Never a dull moment.


Mar 22, 2011
I hate to leave
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

Monty is lucky because I'm often home during the day. I work PRN, which is "as needed", and sometimes I'm not needed anywhere. But sometimes I'm scheduled to work full days almost every day of the week. I tell Monty, "Someone has to go make money to buy you kitty food." But he doesn't understand.

What does he think when I come home from the store with kitty food? Does he think I had to hunt for it as his cat mom hunted? Does he think I have to run after the boxes of cat food to catch them with my "paws?" I've just been wondering that, sorry, a little off topic.

I'm also lucky that my sister lives upstairs and can look after Monty. It's a very nice benefit of owning a duplex! If we will all be gone, my sister's former room mate (someone we've known since high school) comes and lives in the house while we're gone and watches my sister's cat and ours. Not everyone is so lucky to have built in cat sitters, and trustworthy ones at that.

I know my parent's decision to not have anymore cats was directly related to their love of traveling, something which is difficult to do when you have a cat.

It's tricky with Monty also because he will eat any food put down for him right away. My parents could leave extra dry food for Mittens and be gone for two days. I can't do that. Even when I work all day I have to put Monty's lunch in this little two compartment food timer I bought. You set a timer and it pops open at the appropriate time. You can set each compartment for a different time. I like that if my husband and I are both very late getting home, Monty may have been lonely, but at least he isn't hungry.

Mar 22, 2011
interesting subject
by: Anonymous

Hi and thanks for your posting. I wonder the same thing alot myself. Sometimes when I am on skype with my friend and he leaves his apartment and leaves skype on, I hear her cats, one or the other, start to cry. I talk back to them through skype, which must be strange, but they know me well and it seems to calm them down. But the point is really that they get very stressed and sad when they are left alone in the apartment, even though they can go out whenever they want. I always wondered about this. Maybe it's because they feel lost without their owner because they rely on her for survival so just being alone means they have a whole bunch to worry about in fact. At the same time you would think they were used to her popping out for even hours at a time. So I really can't work it out in the end, but they sure do start to cry sometimes even right after she leaves, and often times she's just popped out to the shops for 10 mins. I know it doesn't answer your question but it's an interesting and related observation. I would say be as quick as you can just because they will feel bad and worried if you go for so long if they are not used to you being gone more than a few hours at a time.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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