If you’ve never had a cat before and have only been around dogs, you might wonder if you can leave your new cat at home while you go to work. Cats are independent, but they still need companionship and love from their beloved human friends. Is it okay to leave your cat alone when you go to work?
Since cats sleep between 13-18 hours per day, they don’t need a lot of interaction during the day. You can go to work and leave them as long as they have a clean litter box and full food and water bowls before you go. Kittens, new cats, and elderly cats should not be left alone for very long, though.
In this article, you will discover how to keep your cat happy and healthy while you go to work, including:
- The signs of when a cat has been left alone too long.
- What you need to do when you go on vacation.
- Why kittens and elderly cats should not be left alone.
Let’s dig in and get started!
How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?
Cats are different than dogs or other animals in that they can be left alone for most of the day while you’re working. They sleep much of the day and are relatively independent, but they still need interaction and care from you. Cats can be left alone for up to 48 hours without being checked on. But they risk getting depressed and anxious if they are left alone for that length of time.
8-10 hours is the range that most cats can stay at home alone before they start getting anxious or depressed, which is a standard workday.
However, there is no conclusive answer because each cat is different and will need different levels of interaction. Different cat breeds also have different needs and may not stay at home alone that long. When you’re researching what type of cat to bring home, make sure to find one that can stay alone for up to 10-12 hours per day.
What Are the Signs of a Cat That’s Been Left Alone Too Long?
When a cat is left alone too long, they begin showing signs of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. They may also get bored and start destroying your things or peeing on your clothes. Cats who have been left alone for too long show the following signs of loneliness or anxiety:
- They overgroom themselves, which can result in sores that might not heal very well.
- They go outside the litter box.
- Their appetite changes and they may either eat more than usual, or they don’t eat at all.
If you have a new cat in the house, leaving it alone for an entire day is not recommended because they are still getting used to you, the routine, and the expected behaviors in your house. The first few weeks, experts say, are crucial for your new cat to bond with you and other cats in the household.
It might take up to a few months before your new cat is comfortable enough to be left alone for a full workday. But, try leaving for an hour or two once you’ve had your new cat for a few weeks. When you come back, check for any signs of anxiety or depression. If it seems that your cat is normally adjusting, then continue lengthening your time away from home.
But, cats should never be left alone for longer than 48 hours without someone checking on them or playing with them, even if they’ve been with you for years and know the routine. At the very least, they need fresh water daily, and fresh food, and the litter box is cleaned. If cats don’t have fresh food or water, they could get sick or develop health problems that can be prevented.
Extended weekends or week-long vacations will require that you find a pet sitter or take your cat to a boarding facility.
What If You Go On Vacation?
While you don’t need to build your life around your cat’s needs, you still need to provide for your feline buddy even when going on a vacation if you don’t want to. Cats may not need the same attention or care that dogs do, but they still human companionship and care.
If your vacation is a week or longer, consider placing your cat(s) in a boarding facility while you’re gone so they will be properly cared for in your absence. However, if you will be gone for less than a week but longer than 48 hours, ask a trusted friend or family member to come to check on your cats and refresh their food and water, and scoop out the litter box.
You could either have the cat sitter take your cat home with them, with the necessary supplies, or you could have the sitter come in your home once or twice a day to check on them. Be sure to give them the following information before you leave. The information will also be required if you leave your cat at a boarding facility.
- Your phone number, in case anything goes wrong.
- Your cat’s name, if they don’t already know your cat.
- Feeding times and where to find the food.
- The vet’s number and the number of your emergency contact.
- Any medication your cat receives.
- How often to scoop out the litter box.
- Where to find toys and other supplies that keep your cat happy and safe.
- Any personality traits that might make caring for it more difficult.
If you have a cat prone to anxiety without you, consider taking shorter vacations or finding a vacation place that accepts cats during your stay. Some cats cannot be left with anyone else but their human companion.
New Cats, Kittens, and Senior Cats Should Not Be Left Alone Too Long
As mentioned previously, when you have a new cat, you will need to spend a lot of time with it helping it learn the new routine and getting used to you and other family members, including other cats, if applicable. During the first few weeks of getting your new cat, you or another family member should be at home supervising how things go with it.
After a few weeks, you will be able to leave it alone for a few hours, but perhaps not a full workday.
Kittens younger than four months old should not be left alone longer than four hours. If you have a kitten and need to go to work for a full day, have someone come in and do a well-being check. Kittens six months old or older can go a full day by themselves.
Senior cats, however, should not be left alone very long due to their declining health. Find a pet sitter who will look in on your senior feline buddy at least once a day while you’re at work.
Keep Their Litter Box Clean and Fill Their Food and Water Bowls
Before going to work, if you have time, make sure they have fresh food and water and that their litter box is scooped out. Also, be sure that the temperature is adequate for them, so they are neither too hot nor too cold.
Cats are not the aloof creatures that many say they are, and since you live with a cat, you probably know this already. They need companionship and human interaction like dogs do, but they are more subtle about it.
If your cat seems to be depressed or lonely while you’re at work, it might be that they need more interaction or companionship than what you can give them. If they are the only cat in the house, consider getting another cat of the opposite sex to keep them company when you’re not home. Be sure that both of them are either spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies.