Life can be very hectic and overwhelming, especially when you have to balance your work schedule, your household chores, your children’s needs, and of course, the needs of your precious pet.
It is not always easy to find the time to spend with our pets each day. If there are periods where you will need to leave them alone for a few hours or more at a stretch, they must have food and water available before you depart.
The following information will help answer questions about how long cats can go without eating or drinking if they are left alone throughout the day.
So, let’s find out how long can you leave a cat alone with food and water?
You can use a cat food dispenser with an automatic tag so the pet gets its food at the right time even when you are not near.
Do Cats Get Lonely?
A cat would not be left alone for hours on end in the wild. They are accustomed to stalking as a solitary hunter and moving from place to place as they please.
To survive, cats need fresh water, food, and shelter. In your home, you provide them with all of those necessities.
However, there is still the question of whether or not your feline friend can handle being left alone for long periods.
The answer is yes, they can, but to do so may cause them stress.
So how long can you leave a cat alone? This will vary depending on the conditions in your home and your pet’s personality.
Cats are different just like people. Some are outgoing and loves attention, while others prefer to keep to themselves.
Can Cats Safely Be Left Alone?
Leaving your cat alone for extended periods is not the best situation for them, but it is not as bad as some might think.
It is important to remember that cats are survivors, and they have been known to live long, healthy lives even when they are not given the best care.
How Long is OKAY to Leave a Cat Alone?
If you are gone for four to six hours, your cat should be fine. However, you should always provide them with food and water before leaving.
If you will be out of the house for an extended time, it is best to have a friend or family member stop by to check in on them and make sure they are okay.
Leaving your cat alone for more than eight hours is not recommended. If you must leave them for an extended period, consider hiring a pet sitter to come and take care of them.
Here is a maximum time limit that you can follow:
Age & Time
- Under 4 months2-4 hours
- 4-5 months 5 hours
- 6 months 8 hours
- Healthy grown-up cats 24-48 hours
Which Cat Breeds Do Better Left On Their Own?
Some cat breeds are built for being left alone, while others need a companion to keep them company.
If you have more than one cat, they can help keep each other occupied. For example, an older cat may act as the “guard” of the house when your pet is away.
If you do not want to leave your feline alone the pet the following breeds:
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- American Wirehair
- Scottish Fold
- Maine Coon
- Russian Blue
What to Consider While Leaving a Cat Alone?
If you are planning on leaving your pet alone for more than a few hours, there are several things that you should consider.
Is the Food Easily Accessible?
Make sure that they have easy access to their food and water. If this means placing it in multiple locations around the house, then do so.
They mustn’t have to go too far to find what they need.
Is the Water Fresh?
If you leave them for an extended period, you will want to make sure that the water is fresh.
Change it at least every 24 hours.
Is the Food Clean?
Likewise, you will also want to make sure that the food is clean.
Contaminated food can lead to health problems for your pet.
Is There a Place for Them to Use the Bathroom?
If you are not going to be home, your cat will need a place to go to the bathroom.
This could be a litter box or even an outdoor area to dig and bury their waste.
Is There a Place for Them to Rest?
In addition to a place to go to the bathroom, your pet will also need a place to rest.
A comfortable bed or even a soft blanket will do.
Do They Have Toys and Companionship?
If you can’t be there with your cat, make sure they have toys and companionship.
This could be a friend or family member, another pet, or a toy that they can play with.
Leaving your cat alone is not ideal, but it is not as bad as some might think.
With a few precautions, you can ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable.
Leaving a Cat Alone Overnight
If you leave a cat alone for one night, feed them before you leave. Once they have eaten their food, make sure that the water is fresh.
Place their litter box within easy reach of where your cat sleeps at night and place some soft material next to it if possible.
You can also prepare a low stool with newspaper on top for your pet to rest on.
Before you leave, make sure that all windows and doors are secured and give them a few toys to keep them occupied.
Leaving a Cat Alone for the Weekend
If you leave a cat alone for a weekend, the same rules apply to leaving them overnight. In addition, you will want to provide them with an extra food and water dish.
If you have an outdoor area where your cat can go to the bathroom, make an arrangement to visit there or provide an indoor facility
Make sure that they have plenty of toys to keep them busy and a place to rest. If you are not going to be home, ask a friend or family member to come by and check on them.
Leaving a Cat Alone for Three Days
If you leave a cat alone for three days, you will need to take additional precautions. In addition to the things mentioned above, you will want to empty their food and water dishes and refill them with fresh food and water.
Please place a new litter box close to where they will be sleeping and put some fresh material in it. If you have a place outside where your pet can go to the bathroom, make sure that you place this close to their sleeping area as well.
You will want to give them several toys and places to rest and check on them at least once during the day.
Leaving Cat Alone for a Week or More
If you are going to leave your cat alone for a week or more, you will need to make sure that they have everything they could need.
At least one week before leaving them alone, start emptying their food and water dishes and filling them with fresh food and water.
Please place a new litter box close to where they will be sleeping and put some fresh material in it. If you have an outdoor area where your pet can go to the bathroom, make sure that they have access to this as well.
Leave at least one bed or blanket for them to sleep on, and take any toys they will play with during the day with you when you leave.
Do Cats Miss Their Owners?
Studies have shown that cats miss their owners when they are not around, but they are very good at hiding it. This is likely because they know that they will be fed and have a place to go to the bathroom.
Cats can also be independent creatures and may not need as much attention as we think.
How to Keep Cats Entertained?
You can do several things to keep your cat entertained while you are away. One is to leave a radio or television on for them.
You can also buy them some toys to play with, such as a scratching post for them to scratch or a set of toy balls. Some cats also enjoy playing with water, and you can buy them a water fountain to keep them amused.
You can also train your cat to do some tricks if you have the time. This will keep them entertained and give you something to laugh about when you come home.
What Not to Do When Leaving Your Cat Alone?
There are a few things that you should never do when leaving your cat alone. One is to give them any human food, which can make them sick.
You should also never leave them outside in extreme weather conditions and never tie them up or put them in a small enclosed space.
If you have to leave them in a room where they can’t get out, make sure to leave the door open.
No matter what type of cat you have, there are steps that you can take to keep them safe while you are away. However, leaving your cat alone is not always an option, and it takes a lot of additional work on your part.
If possible, ask someone to come by and check on them for you. You can also look into pet sitting services or ask a friend to come by and play with your cat.
You might also like to read about what happens if a kitten eats cat food? We also recently published a guide on how to get a cat to eat wet food? It serves especially to those who are addicted to kibble.
Instead, Consider a Cat Sitter or Cat Boarding Facility
The Humane Society of the United States recommends that you leave a cat alone for no more than 1-2 days.
Instead, you can consider a cat sitter or a boarding facility so your cat can be with other cats and people. This will also give you a break from constantly having to take care of your pet.
To help your cat sitter do the best job possible, prepare a dossier with pertinent information, including:
- Your name and contact number
- Name of cat
- Feeding times
- When and where she eats
- Medication info, if required
- How often to change the litter
- Personality traits
- Where she likes to hide and sleep
- Where to find supplies, including cat carrier
- Name and number of the veterinarian
- Name and number of your emergency contact
Any other important info
In case of fire or another emergency, list your boarding facility’s address and contact info.