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How long can you leave a cat home alone?

Cats may get lonely, and we need to ensure they remain happy and healthy. Our vets in Jackson share insights on how long cats can be left alone and tips for keeping them safe and content when you're away.

The Myth of the Independent Cat

Cat owners are aware that their feline companions are more sociable than they are made out to be. But, do cats feel lonely? Like humans, cats have distinct personalities. While some cats may prefer to be alone, others are affectionate and follow their owners around the house. Therefore, some cats may adapt better to being left alone than others, depending on their personalities. However, all cats require human interaction, and some may need it more than others.

Your Cat's Age Matters When Leaving Them Alone

Very old and very young cats tend to be more vulnerable and need more attention than middle-aged cats. As do cats with health concerns. So be sure to take extra care when leaving cats with health conditions, kittens, and senior cats alone."

Young Cats & Kittens

Kittens are required to be fed three or four times a day until they reach about six months of age. When left unsupervised, young cats tend to get into trouble. Kittens under four months of age should not be left alone for more than four hours at a time. If you know that your lifestyle requires your cat to adapt to being alone, begin training your kitten by gradually increasing the amount of time you spend away from home. Speak to your vet for instructions on how to best get your kitten accustomed to being left alone at home.

Once your kitten is six months old, if you need to be away for an extended period, it may be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their home to take care of them. If that is not possible, have someone check on your young cat at your place once or twice a day to ensure that they are safe, well-fed, and have some social interaction to alleviate boredom.

If you have a young kitten and need to be away from home for more than two to four hours, pet boarding is the best option. Many boarding facilities provide excellent care for cats of any age, complete with lots of love and attention

Senior Cats & Cats With Health Issues

As cats age, they can become quite sensitive to changes in their routine, making it challenging for them to adjust to any alterations to their daily schedule. This stress may cause health problems and digestive issues, increasing the need for additional feedings and medication throughout the day. Therefore, it may not be wise to leave your senior cat alone overnight.

Many pet boarding facilities provide around-the-clock care and attention to senior or sick cats in need of extra TLC while their owners are away, making pet boarding an ideal option. If your cat must stay home alone, it's recommended that someone visit your house twice a day to check on it. It's best to speak with your veterinarian about how long your senior cat can safely be left alone because they know your cat's health condition best.

Middle-Aged Cats

Under certain circumstances, it might be acceptable to leave your healthy adult cat alone for a period of 24-48 hours. However, this decision will depend on several factors such as your cat's personality, the living environment, and whether or not they are used to spending time alone. If you need to leave your cat alone, ensure that your house is at a comfortable temperature, that there is sufficient dry food available for your cat to eat while you are away, and that there is plenty of clean drinking water. It's also important to make sure that the litter box is completely clean before leaving.

Tips for Leaving Your Cat When You Need to Be Away

If you are planning to be away from home, here are a few tips to help ensure that your cat stays safe while you're gone.

  • Speak to your vet to find out if they have any concerns about your cat being left alone. Your vet knows your cat's health concerns and is in the best position to give you advice on your cat's wellbeing.
  • We strongly recommend that you have someone check on your kitty once or twice a day while you are gone to ensure that it is safe and has enough food and water for the duration of your absence. 
  • Check the weather and be sure that your thermostat is set so that your home remains comfortable while you're away.
  • Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to ration the food and keep it fresher.
  • Ensure that your cat has plenty of clean water in a bowl that will not tip over and spill. Cat water fountains are available from pet stores. These handy devices can help to make your cat's water fresher and cleaner while you're gone.
  • If your cat is particularly fussy about their litter box, you may want to leave 2 fresh, clean boxes of litter for them.
  • Consider leaving a radio or TV on so that your cat hears voices while you are away. It may help to relieve your cat's boredom.
  • Take your cat to a local pet boarding facility. Cat boarding facilities can offer your kitty a clean and bright place to stay, where it will be well cared for and provided with plenty of human interaction.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you're leaving town and have a cat, trust Jackson Animal Clinic for a safe and friendly cat-boarding experience. Our veterinary staff will provide the love and attention your cat needs. Contact us today to learn more about our cat boarding services in Jackson

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