Cats are known to be more independent and generally low maintenance pets (as opposed to dogs). But does that mean it’s really okay to leave your cat at home while you’re away? And if so, just how long can you leave a cat at home while on vacation or traveling?
Sure, cats can go to the bathroom on their own without you having to be there. But as we’ll see, there’s much more to cats’ well-being than having access to the litter box or having fresh food and water.
Let’s dive into discussing this hot topic: How much time is appropriate to leave your cat at home alone?
First – A Famous Cat Myth, DEBUNKED
Growing up, it was common to hear the usual cats vs. dogs tale. Cats do this, dogs do that, cats rule, dogs drool… and so on and so forth.
But one thing, I believe, that has followed the stereotype of cats longer than anything else is this: Cats are capable of staying at home alone for long periods of time because they are “solitary” or “independent” pets.
The statement that cats can stay at home as long as they have food and water is just, in part, a myth.
Yes, cats technically can be left alone for a few days. We’ve had to do it before, we’ve been in that situation. So we know. But we’ll never do it again!
Think of it this way. Dog owners will always find a solution for their pup when they leave the house for a couple of days. Why? Most will say one (or all) of three things: 1.) Dogs need to be let out to use the restroom 2.) They need daily walks and activity 3.) They require attention and love
This all goes to say, it is not ideal to leave a cat at home for long periods of time, but because cats are so awesome and since they are physically able to relieve, feed, and hydrate themselves, there is a little wiggle room for leaving cats at home.
So exactly how much time is appropriate to leave a cat fend for himself while you’re away?
How Long Can You Leave a Cat at Home While on Vacation?
The main concern with leaving a cat at home while on vacation is a cat’s mental health.
Cats can get bored and lonely without companionship from their owners and without playtime/mental stimulation.
Therefore, you should leave your cat at home for no more than 48 hours without someone there to take care of them.
Less time is ALWAYS better, but we’d estimate that 48 hours, or roughly two days, is the maximum amount of time cats should be left unattended.
If you have a friend or sitter coming in every day, the time they can be left alone can be stretched to more than 48 hours.
Our Experience Leaving Our Cat Yoda at Home
While we recognize all cats are different, we have personally experienced how our absence negatively affected our cat Yoda while we were away.
Since we’ve traveled extensively with Yoda, we have often found ourselves in situations where leaving Yoda at home was our only option.
Example 2: Living in Mexico
I hate having to learn a lesson twice. But that’s what happened with Yoda during our holidays back in the US and France. We had a housesitter 24/7 for two weeks. But that wasn’t the problem.
We’ve learned from these experiences, and now we always check Yoda in at a cat boarding home or facility when we can’t take him with us on our short travels. Usually, we always consider taking Yoda with us first wherever we go – but if the move and expenses are too high, we find a local sitter or caretaker to keep him company.
From our experience, we know not to leave our cat alone for longer than 48 hours without someone coming to take care of him.
Here’s what you should consider (and do) before leaving your own cat at home while you’re on vacation.
What to Do & Consider Before Leaving a Cat at Home
Before you decide to leave your cat at home, make sure to take into consideration the following:
1. Is your trip more or less than 48 hours?
Cats won’t mind if you leave for a day or two, but signs of stress and loneliness will show if you leave for longer periods of time. Some cats, like Yoda, will overeat or not eat at all.
2. Always find a family member, friend, or neighbor first
Most people hate to ask for favors, but in this case, don’t be shy. Likewise, most people you ask wouldn’t mind at all coming to check on and play with your feline twice a day.
Offer to pay them or at least return the favor. Your cat will be more comfortable staying at home, as long as there’s someone to keep them company and healthy (mentally and physically).
3. Give your cat 1-2 new toys
Cats get bored with their old toys. Just like dogs. Just like us!
Before you leave, provide a new toy or a new scratcher or post for your cat to play with. Introducing a new toy, or even a food puzzle, boosts mental stimulation and playtime, so they won’t get bored as easily (which quickly transforms into loneliness).
4. Invest in a cat water fountain
Dehydration is a constant problem in cats. Cats eating a dry-only diet are especially at risk of dehydration, which leads to many urinary problems.
Providing a cat water fountain helps entice your cat to drink more, even while you’re away. It helps keep the water fresh, cleaner, and is much more fun to drink from!
5. Check your home’s temperature
Depending on where you live, it’s a good idea to check any temperature regulations in your home before you leave your cat. For example, do you intend to have heating/cooling running all the time?
6. Double up on litter
Multi-cat households might want to double up on the number of litter boxes. If you leave for 2 days, cat pee/poop will build up fast. Especially with 2 or more cats.
You could always provide an additional litter box (even a compostable disposable one will work great) to ensure your cats have ample freshness and space when using the litter box.
If a litter box is too crowded, sometimes cats will choose to do their business elsewhere. Like on your bed.
Cat Boarding vs. In-Home Sitting
What are the pros and cons of leaving your cat at a cattery or boarding facility versus at home?
Cat boarding/catteries: Catteries, where you can board your cat, are feline-friendly alternatives for leaving your cat at home. They often provide exceptional 24/7 care with state-of-the-art cat accessories like trees, shelves, activity mats, toys, and so on. Staff is usually on-site to ensure your cat’s well-being and engage with your cat during playtime sessions. Boarding facilities also aim to feed and nourish your cat on time, so you’re fluffy friend never misses a meal.
In-home sitting: Cats love familiarity, which is why leaving them to sleep the day away in the comforts of their own home is ideal. If you can, always try to have someone take care of your cat at home, since this is where they’ll feel more comfortable. But again, if you can’t find a caretaker, this is where a cattery or boarding facility will be the best option to ensure your cat’s well-being while you’re gone.
Final Thoughts: Leaving Your Cat at Home While You’re Away
Leaving your cat at home is a good option IF you’re not going away for periods of time longer than 48 hours.
Do cats get lonely when you go on vacation? Absolutely. Cats DO miss their owners, despite the myth that they don’t care whether you’re at home or away on vacation.
Have you ever had to leave your cat at home alone? How did it go? Let us know! Additionally, if you have any follow-up questions, please drop us a comment below!
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