It's safe to say that just about nobody wants to leave the company of an adorable kitten for a minute, let alone hours or days. But alas, life often makes it necessary to be apart from your favorite feline. How long can you leave a kitten alone? While kittens sleep for most of the day, that doesn't mean it's always okay to leave them alone for large chunks of time.
A kitten younger than four months shouldn’t be left on his own for more than four hours. When the cat is six months or older, you can leave him on his own for about eight hours. Adult cats, ages 18 months and up, can stay on their own for 24 to 48 hours. If you’re going to be away any longer than that, you should consider alternatives to leaving the cat by itself. Consider getting a cat that is at least six months old if you'll be working full time away from home when you first bring the kitten home.
Before you leave your kitty alone for any length of time, make sure to kitten-proof the space where the kitten will stay. Energetic and curious young cats can get into trouble on their own, so consider dedicating a room as a kind of kitten-safe playpen. A laundry room or bathroom is a good option. Provide food, water, a litter box, and a soft blanket where the kitten can snuggle up to sleep. Keep electrical cords or cords from window blinds taped down or otherwise secured. Make sure doors and windows don’t have spaces where the kitty can escape. Take any houseplants and breakable things out of the room.
Once you’ve kitten-proofed where your cat will stay while you’re gone, stock it with safe and fun “solo play” toys to keep your little furball entertained. Plastic balls, crinkle balls, and small plush cat toys are great fun for kittens to play with on their own. Providing scratching surfaces is another terrific idea. Leaving a TV on at low volume can help your kitty feel more comfortable since it will blend with any noises from outside that might otherwise frighten him.
If you’re leaving a kitten for more than a few hours, check the weather, especially in hot, dry climates. Kittens are prone to heat exhaustion. Leave the A/C on and consider getting a cooling pad for the kitty to sleep on. A cat water fountain is an excellent item that will encourage your kitten to drink plenty of water. Of course, if you’re leaving a very young cat alone, make sure that you keep water in shallow bowls that don’t pose a drowning risk.
While cats have incredible night vision, experts recommend leaving a night light on the first few times you leave a kitten alone when it’s dark. Once they learn the lay of the land and gain confidence in their surroundings, you don’t need to leave the light on for your feisty feline. Their sensitive whiskers, hearing, and sense of smell also help them get around without a problem in conditions that would have humans bumping into furniture.
Kittens and also adult cats can suffer from separation anxiety. If your normally well-behaved kitten starts misbehaving when you’re away or once you’ve returned from being away, rather than bad manners, it could be a sign they're stressed from being separated from you. Peeing outside of the litter box, especially on your bed, is a symptom of this condition. Kittens might over-groom themselves or destroy things. A kitty acting clingy when you’re home is another sign they might have separation anxiety.
If you're going away for more than 48 hours, consider hiring a pet sitter to stop in once or twice a day to check on your kitten. Older, independent cats, or ones with feline buddies at home, might not need a sitter to stay overnight. Younger kittens might get overly stressed being alone for several days or more. You could board the kitten in a kennel. It's good to introduce cats to kennel stays when they're young to get accustomed to them and don't find it too stressful when they're older.
Although cats are considered solitary creatures, they need social interaction with humans or other animals to stay happy. If you know your kitten will probably be left alone a lot, why not get another kitten to keep him company? The two of them will burn off a lot of energy chasing each other around instead of looking for ways to get into mischief. And you won’t have to worry when you’re away that your kitten is pining away for your company.
What should you do if you can't be home with your new kitten, but he's younger than four months old? Try to have a friend or neighbor stop in once or twice to check on the cat and interact for a little while. Ideally, introduce the kitten to that person while you're present, so he's not frightened by an unfamiliar face coming into their space. If having someone stop in isn't an option, consider taking the kitten and its supplies to the home of a person you know for some kitty daycare in your absence. Small kittens can be crated with a small litterbox for safety in a strange environment.
Kittens thrive on routine, so make sure you share your kitty's daily routine with any potential sitters. The closer your cat can stick to the order of doing things they know and love, the more secure and less stressed they'll feel. Let caregivers know when the kitten eats, what he eats, and how much. Some cats have favorite times for making biscuits, playing games, and getting treats. Maintaining a routine goes a long way to keeping your kitty content when you're not there.
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