How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Alone For?

When you get home, it's hard to tell if Kitty even missed you. "Oh, were you gone? I didn't notice." Other cats will cling and not let you out of their sight. Some just want the food can opened. Then there are the cats who feel you should be punished for not being at their beck and call - you'll be snubbed for a period of time to be determined by the cat.

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How long can you leave cats unattended?

Most experts agree, don’t go away for longer than an overnight stay without having someone check on Kitty. Climbers can fall or tip furniture over, a caught toenail can result in a cat with one leg hung up on the chair and no way to get undone, the water bowl gets tipped over or ants invade the food bowl - and Kitty is in trouble.

While cats do take a lot of naps, they'll become bored without companionship. Make sure Kitty has entertainment to prevent separation anxiety (is she ever coming home again?). A cat tree lets Kitty climb and look out the window. A video of birds, bees and mice will keep him entranced for an hour. Treats hidden around the house will let him have a scavenger hunt instead of clawing the couch just for something to do. Puzzle feeders work his brain as well as give him dinner. Make sure the thermostat is adjusted to the required room temperature as well.

For short trips, trade services with cat-minded friends and family but be sure they're really reliable — no visiting friends or boyfriends, no parties or watching your pay-per-view. It's a good idea to give Kitty caretakers their own alarm code which can be disabled after the visits end.

If a trip is for several days, hire a professional pet sitter who will make sure she sees Kitty daily, will put out fresh food and water, wash bowls, clean the litter box, bring in the mail and paper, and if you ask nicely, water the plants.

Tips for leaving your cat alone with a Cat Sitter

In either case, leave lots of notes about how much food to give, litterbox maintenance instructions, where Kitty naps or hides, how many treats are allowed, the vet's contact information, what medications, when and in what dosage, an emergency contact number and especially in the case of elderly pets, what to do in a life-threatening medical emergency. A letter with clear instructions, authorizing the pet sitter to act on your behalf if you can’t be reached, is a good idea.

Cats are not big on change but sometimes the best option is for them to be boarded at a kennel. Visit ahead of time and see what the accommodations are for Kitty. Ask if they provide your brand of food at a daily rate or if you need to bring your own. If Kitty takes medication, be specific on how much and how often. Also, ask what the kennel's emergency procedures are in case the animals have to be evacuated.

Read more: A Pet Owner's Guide To Pet Sitters Selecting The Best Pet Sitter

What about Traveling With Cats?

There are cats who are travelers. If you’re lucky enough to live with one, consider taking Kitty along. Dogs travel more often than cats but ask if the hotel allows pets, what airline rules are for flying with Kitty in the cabin, keep in mind that Kitty will need to use the litter box after several hours (and not while on the plane or train), keep him harnessed, have shot records handy and make sure he's microchipped as well as wearing a collar. When staying in a hotel, leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door so there are no escapes. However, if you'll be in meetings all day it would be better to let Kitty sit this trip out. Never give Kitty sedatives while traveling — it will lower his respiratory rate and could be life-threatening.

Read more: Traveling with Cats How Much Time Does It Take To Care For A Cat?

Remember, Kitty doesn't have to feel neglected, and you don't have to feel guilty about leaving once you think about what Kitty likes best and plan accordingly.

Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

25 comments on “How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Alone For?

kitty416 June 29, 2018
I leave lights on for my Sona and Kona every time. Does anyone else do that?
fantisticat April 17, 2017
pharber-murphy said:
I have an awful confession to make - when we left Mr. Grimsby and Bertha for a week, we hired a professional cat sitter for the first time. I left them two-pages of instructions! From my behavior, you'd think they'd fallen out of the sky and never seen a cat before. >^^< (P.S. Tarasgirl06 - love the cat crinkles!).
NORMAL! (Only *two* pages?) ; - )
fantisticat April 17, 2017
I'm currently fortunate to have friendly neighbors/friends with cats, and we trade off on cat-lovin' for vacations. I'm moving this summer and think I'll need to check new neighborhoods for signs of cat-kids! Maybe once I move, I should post to the Neighborhood list to find kindred spirits.
crazy4strays March 14, 2016
If I'm going to be gone for overnight or longer, I get a cat sitter to come twice a day to give the cats their canned food and clean the litter boxes. I like to take my older cat on trips with us.
camillel March 14, 2016
We take a vacation every year for 9 days I have 2 pet sitters check on my furry kids They come at different times to check food water and potty. Both stay and play with them There is no schedule for them or the cats so everyone enjoys. When we get home its like "oh you were gone, where are the other people?" I am lucky to have friends and family that love and enjoy cats also
tarasgirl06 October 6, 2015
Wonderful, Sarah Or!  That's what loving families do -- they INCLUDE their beloved feline family members in their lives, not as "pets" but as family!  Good on you!
sarah or October 6, 2015
I travel every other month up to Vermont. I found a hotel that's pet friendly and my cats come with me. They love the car, they love the new environment of a hotel room. The other guests get an absolute kick out of my walking 3 cats on leashes and harness down the halls or through the parking lot. They get an even bigger kick when I show them my cats play fetch. I've adapted our lives to the cats, they are as important as my kids to me. Heck we even take them on our boat come summertime and they love it!! If you start them off as kittens you can get a cat to like anything...even a dingy trip to a boat on the CT River.
tarasgirl06 June 6, 2015
PHarber-Murphy:  Good on ya! Better too much than too little info when it comes to beloved family, yes? >^^< ;)
pharber-murphy June 3, 2015
I have an awful confession to make - when we left Mr. Grimsby and Bertha for a week, we hired a professional cat sitter for the first time. I left them two-pages of instructions! From my behavior, you'd think they'd fallen out of the sky and never seen a cat before. >^^< (P.S. Tarasgirl06 - love the cat crinkles!).
mdaisy April 27, 2015
When we are gone for the day I make sure our cat had access to the outdoors as he came to us as an indoor/outdoor cat. If we plan to go on vacation, I always made arrangements to have a family member come by and check on our cat (s). Our cats have drop feeders and plenty of water but it never hurts to have a human check on our cat (s) for companionship and to make sure everything is OK.
tarasgirl06 March 31, 2015
Good on ya, KatsKats!  You're right.  For those who would never leave a kid or a vulnerable elder alone for days -- and I hope that's everyone here! -- the same policy should apply to your feline family members as well.  They are FAMILY! 
katskats March 31, 2015
I pay a neighbor to cat sit and come twice never know what could happen. Cats can become bored and get into mischeif and some become rebellious when their person leaves. I would never allow my cats to go outdoors without a harness, far too many things could happen; such as contagious feline diseases, predators, cars, fleas, ticks, etc.
tarasgirl06 March 18, 2015
You are lucky, DJADe!  Sounds like you have a great life with your family -- and a very special cat! >^^<
djade March 18, 2015
I guess I'm one of the lucky ones - Harry travels with me.  We make a 12-15 hour car trip last 2 days because I stop every rest area when he is awake so he can walk on his leash.  We have a camper van so hotels are not an issue.  At home Harry is allowed out in our fenced yard, occasionally he jumps over after a bird, but is learning that this behavior will have him put back inside unable to visit nature for awhile (a time-out I guess you can call it.)  He had severe separation anxiety as a kitten (left him with hubby while I traveled for 1 week) now anytime I pack a suitcase he won't take his eyes off of me, and on my last bathroom run he follows me in, jumps on the counter and then does his best to climb from there into my arms!  He makes sure I can't sneak away again!!
tarasgirl06 March 17, 2015
Good on ya, Kalocats! ;)
katocats March 17, 2015
I let my sister cat -sit when we are away as she loves our cats as much as us.
cats--always February 11, 2015
Excellent information.
our3girls January 16, 2015
Guess I wont have to worry about being gone for 3 months and having to wonder if they`ll remember me.I thought that I was going to take a winter vacation this year but its looking more unlikely to happen.
deejay0 January 16, 2015
Nothing wrong in letting cats out if its not downright dangerous to do.  In fact some cat charities argue that is cruel not to.  However,  I have a cat fence on my garden which keeps my cats contained in the garden and other cats out. My cat has health problems that it wouldn't be safe to let her out, in any case, but, these are a fairly inexpensive way of having the best of both worlds.  No electricity I may add! The netting on the fence is errected in such a way that the cat would need to hang upside down to try and get over it (which a normal cat won't do) and to get over it into the garde, cats won't walk on things that are not firm underfoot.
our3girls November 25, 2014
Im glad I found this article because I was wondering if I leave them for about 3 months will they still remember who we are when we get back?Yes I would have a pet sitter while Im gone
tarasgirl06 October 8, 2014
I have a no-travel policy.  If people want to see me that badly, they come to me.  Otherwise, there's the phone, the net, and snailmail.  
droogcat October 8, 2014
Maybe it's my bengals, but after a trial 3 day trip away, (with friend dropping by twice/day to feed, etc.), they were almost feral when I returned. Skittish and afraid even of me, I've never seen them like that. So, it's find a stay-over cat sitter or reschedule my trip when she can come(!). They are my furry babies, so it's not too much to ask. :)
tarasgirl06 September 18, 2014
Responsible and caring cat servants do NOT let their cats outside except on cat-appropriate harness and leash, for the cats' safety and the servants' peace of mind.  It is not difficult to create an indoor environment which is complete and stimulating for cats.  If you wouldn't let a two-year-old kid play in the street unsupervised, don't let your cats out, for the same reasons and then some.
helsic September 3, 2014
Thank you for the article and the great advices. Some cats are more independent, specially if they're outdoor cats because if they feel hungry they just hunt by themselves.

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