Cat alone at home. How much is too much?

You'd like to take a weekend trip and don't know if you can leave your cat at home alone? Also the times of home office are soon over. Is that why you might be worried about whether your velvet paw can manage without you again? The good news: it's better than you think.

Rot getigerte Katze sitzt auf der Fensterbank und schaut raus

Would you like to take a weekend break but don’t know whether you can leave your cat at home alone? The times of remote work may soon be over. Is that why you might be worried about whether your feline friend can manage without you again? The good news: Better than you think. In principle, with the appropriate precautions you can leave an experienced cat alone for up to 48 hours. For all others, here are a few tips.  

How experienced is your cat with being on its own?

The first important question: Has your cat already been left alone? If you have already had your cat for a few weeks or months, it has certainly been alone for certain periods. For example, when you were out shopping or out for an evening with friends. Then you only have to take care of the appropriate safety measures and can use a few tricks to bridge the eight to ten hours. Just read from “Safety measures” onwards.

Staying alone for a young or new cat

If you have a young or new cat that doesn’t know how to be alone yet, you should get it used to it gradually. The more time you take, the better. In general, you should not leave a new cat alone for too long at first. When you are sure that your new addition is familiar with the environment, you can try leaving it alone. To do this, first go outside for a few minutes, and observe what happens. Gradually extend these phases. Here you have to orientate yourself to the character of your cat and proceed accordingly. As a rule, your cat will cope well with these phases because it is naturally inclined to be independent. In any case, if your cat mews after you, you should not come back to it immediately. Because that would be a classical conditioning, and you would be rewarding the wrong behaviour. Even if it is difficult: You may enter your home again only once your cat has calmed down. 

Leave outdoor cats alone.

If your cat is an outdoor cat, it is more independent anyway. Nevertheless, you should gradually increase the time your cat spends alone. In any case, you need to make sure that the cat flap is working and, of course, take the usual safety measures into account. 

Leave two or more cats alone at home

With two cats at home, you can be quite relaxed. Especially if both have known each other for a while. To be on the safe side, you can still gradually extend the alone periods. This gives both you and the cats a good feeling.

Safety measures during your absence.

Before you leave your home, no matter how long, be sure to keep certain things in mind:

  • Don’t leave windows tilted or open.
  • Make sure there are no small or dangerous objects (e.g. hair ties) lying around that your cat could swallow.
  • Avoid drafts so that doors can’t slam shut and thus unnecessarily frighten – or even trap – your cat.
  • And, of course, you should clean the litter box again. For sensitive cats, simply place another litter box. 

Against boredom

Feel free to arrange a few extras in order to relieve your cat’s boredom whilst you’re away. For example:

  • Toy 
    When you’re home, it’s best to consistently put away all cat toys. Then, when you leave home, you can put some of them back. Ideally, a different selection every day. 
  • Snacks 
    Before you leave for work, you can hide some snacks around your home. Your cats will love discovering them one by one. Think of new hiding places every day. You can also stock a feeder that will reveal the treats around halfway through your absence. 
  • Place at the window
    Set up a particularly nice spot by the window for your cat. Nothing is as exciting as watching the world outside. So the time flies by. 
  • Garments with your fragrance
    If you have the feeling that your cat misses you quite a lot, just leave it a piece of your scent (e.g. a T-shirt or a blanket).

Neighbourhood help

Despite all the preparations, do you still feel uncomfortable leaving your cat(s) alone? Maybe you have trusted neighbours who can look after your cat for you? In most cases, you’ll find that your cat is sleeping peacefully. And if not, you can change your actions accordingly. For example, have your cat sitter stop by more often or slip in a few extra treats. 

Returning home after the workday

You get home and you’re tired or stressed. You should nevertheless take the time to joyfully greet your pet. Treat yourself and your cat to an extensive petting session and, ideally, add a short play session. In this way, you reassure your feline friend that everything is fine – even if their favourite human can’t be there for them for a while.