Critter Culture
Tips to Keep Your Cat Happy When You're Away

Tips to Keep Your Cat Happy When You're Away

Critter Culture Staff



Lions function in big groups, and most other big cats are relatively reclusive. Domestic cats differ depending on personality, but studies show that many enjoy being around people and other pets, form stable bonds and feel isolated when they have to keep their own company. House cats become decidedly lonesome when they're used to bustling households and a lot of attention, and the house suddenly goes quiet. Ultimately, your cat depends on you for more than just food, so there's a limit to how long you can leave it alone at home.


How long can adult cats be left alone?

Hungry cat sitting next to bowl of food at home kitchen and looking at camera. Chalabala / Getty Images

Cats have a reputation for being as independent as the 4th of July, and cat parents are thrice as likely to leave their cats alone for short travel periods than dog owners. Putting a stash of kibble and water out for an overnight stay should be OK for fully-grown cats. But if you're going away for a weekend, you'll want to ask someone you trust to check up on your cat and see that all bases are covered.


How long can kittens be left alone?

Little black kitten playing and enjoys with orange ball at living room of house. nensuria / Getty Images

Kittens are more boisterous than adult cats that have settled down, so there's no telling what can happen in your absence. You'll need to leave your adorable baby cat in a kitten-proof room where they can't cause mayhem or accidentally consume something problematic. Kittens under four months old will need frequent check-ins per day, including some playtime.


How long can elderly cats be left alone?

red haired old cat lying on the doorstep Evgeniia Gordeeva / Getty Images

Senior cats have unique needs too. You know your longtime feline companion best—consider their health situation, whether they require meds, and how likely they are to get anxious while you're gone. It should be fine to leave an older cat by itself while you're at work, but avoid overnighters. Cognitive decline may affect your cat's ability to adapt to significant adjustments in its routine, and you don't want to return to any stress-induced accidents.


Get a handle on the food situation

cat playing with food toy

If you leave a bunch of food out for your cat, it may gobble up too quickly and possibly feel sick due to overeating. Then, it won't have anything to eat on the last day of a weekend away because the food is MIA. Use food toys to draw out mealtimes, hide snacks for an exciting game, and get a sitter to help your cat stick with its schedule and provide much-needed social interaction. Automatic food dispensers don't make up for solitary confinement.


Two's company

Two cat sitting on the window sill Okssi68 / Getty Images

Just like dogs, cats need loads of enrichment. If you have two cats, that's all the better because they can keep each other occupied when you're out and about. Keep a window open so your cats can spend a portion of the day observing the comings and goings in your neighborhood.


Stave off boredom

Cat playing with a toy mouse on a cat scratch stand. Socreative / Getty Images

There are lots of toys you can make or buy to keep your cat entertained. Catnip mice are popular, as are cat scratchers and predatory toys it can chase, pounce on, and swat to indulge its hunting instincts. Read the warning signs on toys and be careful about potential choking hazards. In addition, cats often love watching nature programs on TV and YouTube.


Ensure the thermostat is just right

Cute fluffy cat enjoying air flow from portable electric fan on the windowsill on a hot summer day Irina Shatilova / Getty Images

You might be hoping to save on your electricity bill when you leave for a mini-break, but don't forget that your cat still needs temperature control to feel comfortable. During hot summers, it can overheat without the air conditioner on. Be mindful of how hot or cool your space is if a medical condition makes your cat extra vulnerable.


Keep it clean

female hand cleaning cat litter box with shovel Mila Naumova / Getty Images

One of the main items on your pre-departure to-do list should be cleaning the litter box. A pet sitter must refresh your cat's litter box on the second day you're away. But if you don't manage to find a sitter, you can lay an extra box on the ground to allow your cat to maintain its high standard of hygiene.


Deploy tech

Cat with water fountain Daria Kulkova / Getty Images

Today's technology can be a real boon for animal lovers. You can watch over or speak to your cat remotely with smart cameras or even use lasers on the camera to engage your cat. There are also filtered water cat fountains, among other valuable gadgets for various needs and budgets.


Outsource care

cute orange and white cat touching human hand taniche / Getty Images

Research indicates that cats favor interacting with humans over playing with a toy. They also prefer staying at home with its familiar scents and territory. It's best to have a cat sitter come to your place for play and exercise and to set out fresh chow and H20. But if your sitter options are unavailable or you don't want to be a burden on neighbors, friends, or family members, a room in a cat hotel or boarding house is the next best option, especially if you're holidaying for longer than a weekend. When you're saving for your own vacation, put some money aside for kitty's accommodation.



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