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So, you finally have the green light to take a vacation, you’re excited, your bags are packed, …there’s only one problem. You’re wondering “can I leave my cat alone?” Now we’ve all seen Home Alone and we know how this kind of scenario can end for humans. We’ve put together a few tips to make sure your cat’s experience being home alone is completely safe and comfortable.
As you get ready to leave, you may be wondering how your cat will actually feel when you go. Will they notice that you’re gone? Is it possible they will feel sad, or lonely?
As a society, we tend to see cats as independent, self-sufficient and aloof. The truth is, cats seem to actually enjoy our company, can get lonely or bored when left alone and can even experience separation anxiety. If, when you’re home, you notice that your cat often meows to get more of your attention, this could mean they are on the anxious side.
Scientifically speaking, it seems there are no conclusive studies on how exactly our feline friends experience loneliness and no one approved answer to our question. Vets and cat behaviour experts tend to recommend a safe period of no longer than 24 hours (after 24 hours, someone should check in on them, they suggest).
The answer many bloggers tend to agree on is 24-48 hours.
One reason for this short time period? There’s always the possibility your cat could experience a sudden illness while you’re away. Of course, if you need to leave for longer, there are other options to consider for your companion’s care, like friends and family who could visit, or professional cat sitters.
At the end of the day, all cats are different, and it’s important to remember that. Like us humans, they have different temperaments and needs. So, the answer to “how long can I leave my cat alone” does depend on individual factors. If you feel that being home alone is too stressful for your cat, you are probably right (a cat sitter could be a great solution).
If you have a kitten, the guidelines are different: we suggest checking in with your vet or another expert to be safe. Senior cats may also need extra care, especially if they have a medical condition, in which case you may really want to consider leaving them with a friend, family member or sitter.
Once you decide on leaving your cat home alone, there are a few things you can do to make their time without you comfortable.
- Leave lots of water
This one is important. A cat water fountain is a great idea as it will provide plenty of water (and prevent it from getting stale).
- And food, of course!
An automatic cat feeder can help dispense portions of food that are just right, while also keeping up a routine (very important for cats).
- Safety first
When you go away, be sure you are leaving your cat in a safe environment, with sufficient space. Check to ensure there are no wires or cables they could get tangled in, or sharp items left around the house. If you do decide to leave a kitten alone for a set number of hours, pay special attention to potential hazards.
An important step in cat-proofing your home is making sure your cat can’t escape when you’re away (particularly if they are a house cat). We would also like to note that while our Oscillot® cat-containment system is highly effective, it is not designed for scenarios where the owner is not home.
- Litter box tips
Cats tend to be very particular about having a clean litter box (and unfortunately if their box is not clean, they may go outside of it). One idea is to leave a few litter boxes, or invest in a self-cleaning litter box (yes, this is real invention).
- Will my cat get bored?
To be sure your cat doesn’t get bored without you, you can invest in a cat perch, safe cat toys, or a scratching post. Think about leaving the radio or TV on at a low volume when you go away. Who knows, your cat might even end up loving their alone time.
If you want to go the extra mile, cats are much less lonely with a friend around, so consider adopting a second cat!
- The right temperature
Leave your thermostat set to a comfortable temperature. If it’s summer, and hot out, be sure the AC is turned on.
- A few other options
Leaving your cat home alone is only one of many options. Other options include leaving your cat with a pet sitter or friend/family member, or at a cat hotel. Personally, we don’t recommend cat hotels or boarding facilities. Cats are very territorial and a stay at a hotel could end up being a highly stressful experience for them.
- A vacation with your cat?
Generally speaking, cats are happier and more comfortable in their own homes. If it’s the only solution, you can take your cat with you when you vacation (preferably when your destination is not far away). Check to make sure the hotel or cottage where you’re staying accepts pets and keep in mind that cats can get car sick when travelling. Airplanes are another story altogether.
- What if I miss my cat too much while I’m away?
Don’t worry, we promise you will see your cat soon. Knowing you have left them in a comfortable environment, or in great hands, should give you peace of mind. Enjoy your vacation or time away and don’t forget to buy your cat a savory souvenir to show you care.