Is it ok to leave kitty home alone? 6 basic requirements you need to consider

22 October 2018

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tips for leaving your cat home alone

Cats are commonly known to be independent animals with a mind of their own.

Even though it might not always seem this way, they do suffer when they are left alone for too long.

But don’t worry! There are many things you can do to make your absence easier on your cat. As a cat owner, you might be wondering how long can you leave a cat alone. You might even wonder if it would be ok to let your kitty outside in your absence. Bottom line. you can’t always be sure what to expect when you come home after a day at work:

  • Some cat owners are welcomed by a purring, clingy cat that shows you how glad it is that you’re back.
  • Others will find a kitty snoozing on the sofa, barely noticing that you were gone at all.

Cats often have very different ways of showing their affection. That makes it difficult to tell if they even miss you. But rest assured: they do.

Good to know: When left alone for too long or too often, they can develop serious separation anxiety.

How long is too long for your cat to be alone?

Every cat is different when it comes to missing their human companions. To find out how long your feline can go without you, try staying away a little longer every time you leave and carefully watch your cat’s reaction.

If its behaviour over the next couple of days changes or your cat shows obvious signs of protest, you have found her maximum tolerance. Try to keep the time kitty has to spend alone shorter than that.

Noteworthy: Generally, experts say a cat should never be left all by itself for more than 24 hours.

how long can you leave your cat alone 6 basic needs

These 6 basic needs are crucial for your cat when she is home alone

Regardless of how long he is left alone, every cat has some basic needs. As a loving pet parent, you’ll want to take care of those needs, even when you’re not at home.


In general, your cat needs just as much food when you’re gone as it needs when you’re at home. It can be either dry or canned food, depending on what your cat is used to. When leaving canned cat food out, keep it cooled to avoid the risk of spoil. You can do this, for instance, by leaving a cool pack under the feeding dish.

2. Water

There has to be enough clean water during the entire time that you are away. Ideally, place a couple of water bowls or dispensers in different places throughout your home for your cat.

3. Safety

Cats can get themselves into all sorts of trouble. To avoid dangerous situations, apply these tips:

  • Allow someone near you to check in from time to time, to ensure that your feline is not stuck, locked in somewhere or injured.
  • Leave the contact details of your veterinarian somewhere visible, in case of emergency.
  • Most noteworthy, your cat might get outside by herself while you are gone, and even get lost. A GPS CAT Tracker device can help you here, to always know where kitty is.

4. Entertainment

It might seem like all your cat does all day is sleeping. Nevertheless, she does wake up. When this happens, take care that there are enough exciting toys around to keep kitty from scratching your furniture. Maybe try serving a meal of dry food in a puzzle feeder just before you have to go.

Your cat will return to see if there’s more and will be busy playing half the day. Does your cat really sleep in the same place all day or does she get up and dance on the table as soon as you’re out the door?

5. Company

If your cat is used to having people around, it needs company every now and then. Ideally, that of people it already knows and likes.

But if you have to be gone for a longer period of time, even spending time with strangers is better than loneliness. Some cats also like to have the TV or the radio on when their humans are gone, so they don’t have to sit in silence all day.

6. Routine

Good to know: Most cats don’t like change too much.

Therefore, they get through long stretches of your absence better, when the rest of their daily routine changes as little as possible. That includes feeding and play time, but also regularly cleaning out the litter box.

Finally, if you have recently moved with your cat, try to spend more time with her in the beginning, since this does count as a major change in her universe. Allow her a bit more time to get used to the new home.

How much food is enough for my kitty?

When you are gone for under 24 hours, you still want to make sure your cat has as much food and drink as it would get if you were at home. Usually, pet owners find out very soon if their new friend will binge on all the food they are given or if they can save some for the next time they get hungry. If you don’t know yet, you can try doing the following:

  1. Make her next meal twice as much as usual. If the cat stops eating when she is full – congratulations! You can just put all the food your cat needs during your absence into one bowl. If your cat keeps on eating and eating, it is probably better to consider an alternative.
  2. Consider getting a food dispenser. Automated food dispensers can be bought at your local pet store and come in many different makes. Pick one that seems right for your cat’s needs and try it out while you’re at home, to be sure it works correctly and kitty doesn’t have to go hungry.

Overview of how long can you leave a cat alone

If you need to leave your cat alone at home for longer than 24 hours, you have various options:

Leaving your cat home alone for more than 24 hours

Less than 24 hoursYour cat can stay home alone.
Between 2-7 daysYour cat cannot stay home alone. You can either:

  • Ask a friend to come over every day and spend at least 15-30 minutes at your home to clean the litter box, play, cuddle or just be there and bring some life into the place or
  • Find a pet sitter who gets paid to spend an agreed-upon amount of time with your feline. That way your cat can stay in her comfortable home even if all of your friends are on vacation too or
  • Take your cat to a boarding facility where it can stay until you get back. But remember: Cats are generally very territorial, so their home is just as important to them as you are. Separating them from both at once should only be your last resort.

Video with top tips to leave your cat alone

The following video comprises more tips for leaving your cat home alone while you’re on vacation. Check them out: 

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