How long can I leave my cat alone? Cat experts reveal a surprising answer

We often think of our cats as aloof, independent creatures who don’t need much attention — especially when compared to the more demanding needs of a dog.

But that stereotype isn’t necessarily true at all. Studies (and personal experiences) show cats often value our company more than we realize and need affection just as much as other animals.

This then begs the question: When can you leave them alone?

If you’re planning a trip, or just planning on returning to work, there are some definite factors to consider. Experts tell Inverse the answer is probably not as long you might think — but there are ways you can keep your cat safe and emotionally healthy if you need to be away from home for a limited amount of time.

“You should not leave your cat alone for a prolonged period,” Mikel Delgado tells Inverse. Delgado is a cat expert at Feline Minds and a postdoctoral fellow School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

“Cats also have emotional and social needs that can’t be met when they are left alone for extended periods.”

How long can you leave your cat alone?

Delgado recommends not leaving “a cat alone without a person to check in on them for more than 24 hours.”

You might be tempted to leave Mr. Whiskers home alone with a bowl of food and head off for a weekend road trip — but you could be putting your cat’s health in jeopardy.

“Cats may overeat due to stress, knock over their water dish, or get injured — so it’s not okay to just leave them with a big bowl of food and keep your fingers crossed,” Delgado says.

Okay, so I’ll use an automatic feeder to keep my cat fed, right? Problem solved?

It’s not that easy says Katherine Pankratz, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

Pankratz (a cat owner herself) tells Inverse that “automatic feeders sometimes fail or don’t work as anticipated,” which has occasionally caused her to reach out in a panic to her friends to check in on her cat.

It’s also important to consider your cat’s emotional well-being, Delgado says. If cats are stressed out due to an owner’s prolonged absence, they may display symptoms of emotional distress, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Not using the litter box

Do cats need a cat sitter?

“You should arrange for a pet sitter to check on your cat at least once a day,” Delgado says. Twice a day, she notes, would be even better.

Pankratz agrees, suggesting a “consistent caretaker that your cat gets along well with.” Ideally, the caretaker would provide meals around the same time you usually feed your cat.

But it may not always be possible to find a consistent sitter who knows your cat. If your cat is sensitive around strangers, you might feel wary about asking an acquaintance to play with them. But it’s okay if the sitter at least takes care of the pet’s basic needs like feeding and making sure the litter box is clean, Delgado stresses.

“They can sit and read, talk gently to your cat, or just be a ‘typical human presence’ by sitting on the couch, watching TV, or checking their phone,” Delgado says.

Essentially, she recommends letting the sitter interact with your feline on the cat’s terms. Some cats may even prefer a sitter that sleeps in the home overnight, but that varies depending on the feline.

How can you make your cat less lonely?

The best way to keep your pet from feeling lonely is to have someone spend time with them, Delgado says.

But there are other ways you provide your cat enriching activities to make them feel comfortable while you’re gone. Delgado recommends a combination of the following options:

  • Food puzzles
  • Safe solo toys
  • Music or videos specifically for cats

“Those aren’t a replacement for a pet sitter, but your pet sitter can help set up and rotate enrichment for your cat,” Delgado says.

Pankratz also suggests leaning providing “comforting smells” to keep your cat company. She recommends not cleaning linens such as couch covers, cat beds, or bedding to retain your scent while you are away.

What should you do before leaving your cat alone?

Once again: You shouldn’t leave your home alone for a prolonged period if you can help it. A caretaker who can check on your cat daily is ideal.

Delgado and Pankratz both suggest setting up a webcam or some kind of video surveillance to keep a remote eye on your cat while away.

Check the webcam to make sure your cat is eating properly, using the litter box, and generally don’t seem too stressed out. If you have a cat sitter, you’ll also need to let them know they’re being recorded, Delgado adds. She also recommends using a timer that can automatically turn lights on and off as needed.

With extreme weather events becoming more common as a result of the climate crisis, pet owners need to keep in mind the impact of quickly fluctuating temperatures on their cats — especially when they cannot be there to check on them.

Earlier this year, Oregon saw an overwhelming number of heat-related illnesses in pets as record-breaking summer temperatures hit the state. (Related: Dogs can be especially vulnerable to heat — check out our guide on how to keep pups cool in hot weather).

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“It could be safer to regulate the environmental temperature to prevent any drastic change while you are away, like freezing temperatures or extreme heat,” Pankratz says.

Cats are more comfortable in warmer temperatures than humans — but before you heat up the thermostat as you head out the door, Pankratz says it may be better to stick to a consistent temperature that’s appropriate for both your comfort and your cat’s. Whatever temperature you would keep the thermostat on while you’re at home is probably okay for your cat too.

But Pankratz also advises recommends providing “warm resting spots” like cat beds and blankets in case your kitty starts getting chilly.

Ultimately, when you got a pet you signed up to take care of them — but if you follow these tips, you can keep your feline in good health while you’re away from home.

— Update: 20-03-2023 — found an additional article Leaving Cats Home Alone: Everything You Need to Know from the website for the keyword leave cat alone for 7 days.

Leaving cats home alone seems natural to us. We see cats as very independent creatures, but just how independent are they? Can they be left home alone for a day, three days, a week? Do cats get lonely?

Cats are known for being independent, but you still feel guilty leaving them alone during the day while you’re at work. But thanks to remote interactive tools like Petcube pet cameras, you can check in on them anytime.

As independent as they are, cats still crave attention and interaction. Plus, they can get in all kinds of trouble when left home alone. Dangling cables, poisonous plants, chemicals, plastic bags, paper shredders – all these things pose huge threats to your little feline explorer.

Learn how long your cat can stay home alone and what you need to do to ensure they are safe, healthy, and happy.


  1. Do Cats Get Lonely?
  2. How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?
  3. How to Leave Your Cat Home Alone
  4. Leaving a Kitten Home Alone
  5. Do Cats Miss Their Owners?
  6. How to Keep Cats Entertained
  7. FAQs

Do Cats Get Lonely?

Regardless of their reputation, cats do get lonely when they are left unattended for long periods of time. Research proves that cats are social beings that form strong bonds with their owners.

Do cats get sad when you leave? Short answer: yes. When their needs for companionship are not met, cats can become depressed. They can also get separation anxiety.

Unfortunately, feline separation anxiety often goes unnoticed until it becomes severe. Unlike dogs with separation anxiety, cats will not trash your entire home or annoy the neighbors with excessive barking and howling. But, your kitty may start acting more clingy, stop using the litter box, and meow excessively.

How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?

How long you can leave your cat alone depends on your pet’s personality and habits. Other factors are the environment, their health, and their age.

Here’s a rough estimate of how long you can leave your kitty alone based on age:

Keep in mind that this is the maximum amount of time you should leave your cat home alone. Beyond this time, you should get somebody to check up on them. It’s vital that your pet has enough food, fresh water, and a safe place to sleep. Also, remove any sharp items and poisonous plants.

Once you have covered the basics, make sure your kitty has enough stimuli, so your pet doesn’t get bored. High posts next to windows, scratch posts, toys, TV, and music for cats are a few examples. You can talk to your cat remotely through a Petcube Bites 2, a pet camera that doubles as a treat dispenser.

Leaving a Cat Alone Overnight

If your feline is healthy and you can ensure a safe environment, leaving a cat alone overnight should not cause big problems. Food, fresh water, and at least a couple of litter boxes are a must.

But, if your cat has health issues or separation anxiety, try to find other options. Petcube Play 2 will give you an opportunity to watch your cat and see how they are faring while you are away.

Getting a pet sitter is the best solution if you have a kitten or a grown-up cat with medical problems. The sitter will ensure your pet is safe and cared for and your house remains clean. Having a friend or a family member over will also give you peace of mind and reduce the cost of hiring a pet sitter.

Leaving a Cat Alone for a Weekend

Whenever you need to leave your cat alone for more than 24 hours, you should have somebody checking in on them.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Water will become stale;
  • Food can run low;
  • Litter boxes need to be scooped;
  • Cats are creatures of habit that need interaction and playtime;
  • Your cat can get lonely or bored;
  • Cats can get ill or injured;
  • Weather changes can have severe consequences on your feline.

You can mitigate some of these things if you are sure that your cat is confident and resourceful enough to get through the weekend on their own.

Water fountains combined with water bowls will prevent the water from becoming stale. Automatic cat feeders can deliver food to your pet at regular times. You can leave multiple litter boxes around as well.

Kitty-proofing your home before you go decreases the chance of injuries. A stimulating environment can prevent boredom, and you can also check in on your cat if you set up a pet camera, such as a Petcube Bites 2 which lets you fling treats out to them.

Lastly, leave the air conditioning on to maintain a comfortable room temperature for your cat.

Keep in mind that technology can fail you and that no toy can replace human interaction.

Read more  My Dog Got Scratched By A Cat. Should I Be Worried?

Leaving Cats Alone for 3 Days

Leaving a cat alone for three days without someone dropping by is not a good idea. The reasons listed above apply in this case as well. If you have no other option, consider a boarding facility.

You may think that your feline will be happy there with all the other cats and people to play with, but cats are territorial animals. A new environment with all those unfamiliar faces will not be easy but the stress your cat will endure during those three days in a boarding facility is better than leaving them completely unattended.

Whether you have to leave your cat alone for work or on an extended weekend trip, you will have some peace of mind knowing that at least your pet’s basic needs are being met.

Can I Leave My Cat Home Alone for a Week?

Leaving a cat alone for a week can end in a disaster. If you have to go away for the entire week, you must find someone to at least check in on your feline. A friend, a family member, or a pet sitter are all viable options.

If no one is available, consider a boarding facility. Otherwise, it’s a huge gamble. Too many things can go wrong. Don’t take that risk!

Here are some situations that might occur:

  • Your cat can run out of food and water;
  • Food and water can go bad and cause health issues;
  • There can be weather changes that will affect your cat’s well-being;
  • Your cat can get ill or injured;
  • The litter boxes will be full, and your cat will start house-soiling;
  • Your kitty can get lonely, depressed, or anxious.

Plan ahead and don’t neglect your cat when you have to go away for long periods of time.

How to Leave Your Cat Home Alone

No matter if you’re leaving for a couple of hours or a couple of days, here are some tips on how to leave your cat home alone.
You want to think about food, water, safety, and entertainment.

Step 1

Fill the water bowls with fresh water. If you’re leaving for long periods of time, consider getting a water fountain.

Step 2

Make sure your cat has enough food at their disposal. When you know you will only be gone a few hours, you can skip this step and stick to the regular feeding schedule. Cats love routine. You can maintain a feeding schedule if you get a pet food dispenser.

Keep in mind that all devices can malfunction and have a backup plan in place.

Step 3

Scoop the litter boxes and ensure there are enough of them around for your cat to use while you’re away.

Step 4

Kitty-proof your home. Remove dangerous chemicals, poisonous plants, sharp objects, small toys, and plastic bags from your cat’s reach. If there are plastic bags in the trash, cut both ends of the bag as a precaution. Unplug paper shredders to prevent accidents. Make sure there are no dangling cables around. Keep the toilet lid closed.

Step 5

Enrich the environment. Scratch posts, toys to keep, window posts, and quiet resting places are a start. You can leave the TV or the radio on for entertainment. Hiding food or treats around the house will also keep your cat busy while you’re away. Set up your pet cam so you will be able to check in on your cat from time to time.

Step 6

Have a play session and make any arrangements before you leave. If somebody will be dropping by to check on your pet, inform them of the feeding schedule, your cat’s habits, and health condition.

Leave your vet’s contact number and your emergency contact. You can also share access to Online Vet and Emergency Fund so that a sitter will have a chance to contact an professional vet at ease.

If you want to keep an eye on your feline while you are away, you can set up a pet camera such as Petcube Play 2. This sleek pet camera allows you to stream video, talk to your cat, play with it using a laser toy, and more.

Leaving a Kitten Home Alone

When leaving a kitten home alone, pay special attention to food, water, toys, and potential hazards. Consider getting a large crate for the kitten where it will be safe and have enough room to play. You can also use a spare bedroom or a bathroom. If you opt for any room in your home, make safety a priority.

Beware of chemicals, sharp objects, cables, plants, plastic items, and small objects that the kitten could swallow. Minimize the time alone for your kitten or get a pet sitter to drop by.

Do Cats Miss Their Owners?

Cats form very strong bonds with their human companions and family members. Even though they may play it cool, they will notice you’re gone and they will miss your attention. If your cat starts meowing loudly when you leave the room, that’s one sign they miss you.

Other symptoms may include clinginess, loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, vomiting and diarrhea, and house-soiling.

If you notice these signs, talk to a vet to determine if there’s a health condition to address. And please, don’t get mad at your cat if they urinate on your clothes. It is their way of saying that they miss you.

How to Keep Cats Entertained

There are many ways to keep cats entertained.
Check out activities and home alone cat toys to keep them busy:

  • Puzzle feeders;
  • Toys (balls, catnip toys, feather toys, wand toys, mouse toys, food mazes, cardboard boxes, etc.);
  • Vertical scratch posts;
  • Cat trees;
  • TV program or music;
  • Bird feeders outside the window;
  • Petcube Play 2 pet camera with the laser toy;
  • Hiding food or treats around the house;
  • Getting another pet cat;
  • Having somebody drop by for a play session;


Q: How long can kittens be left alone?

A: You can leave a kitten home alone for short periods of time. Kittens younger than four months of age should not be left alone for more than a couple of hours. Over four months, they can handle up to five hours. When they turn six months, they should be able to handle your 8-hour workday.

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Keep in mind that each cat is unique. Some may handle alone time well while others can have problems. Always ensure that your kitten has food, water, a safe place to rest, and a few toys to play with.

Q: Do cats get lonely on their own?

A: Cats can get lonely, depressed and anxious on their own. Each cat is different and will respond according to their personality and habits. If you have to leave your cat alone regularly for longer periods of time, watch out for signs of depression and cat separation anxiety.

Q: Are cats OK by themselves?

A: Some cats will do OK by themselves while others will get lonely and destructive. You should observe your cat’s behavior and habits. Most cats can handle and even enjoy their alone time.

If you will be away for hours or days at a time, plan ahead. Provide food, water, and a safe environment. Consider a pet sitter or a family member who can check in on your kitty.

Q: How long can you leave a cat home alone during the day?

A: You can leave a healthy adult pet home alone for 8 hours or more at a time. Cats are generally more independent than dogs. You can go to work without having to worry that your cat will trash your entire place or upset the neighbors. But, if your cat has a health issue or separation anxiety, get a pet sitter or minimize the time spent alone.

Q: What are the best toys for cats home alone?

A: Some of the best toys for cats home alone include cat food trees, scratch toys, balls, puzzle feeders, cat tunnels, interactive pet cameras, and motorized toys they can chase around.

— Update: 24-03-2023 — found an additional article Tips When Leaving Your Cat Alone for a Week from the website for the keyword leave cat alone for 7 days.

Cats have a reputation for being independent and easy to care for, especially when compared to dogs. This has led to the misconception that cats can be left alone for longer periods of time as long as their basic needs (i.e. food and water) are met.

However, this isn’t the case. Read on to learn more about the amount of time you can leave your feline friend by themselves.

How Long Can Cats Be Left Alone?

Let’s cut to the chase. Most vets recommend that your cat can be left home alone for no more than 24 hours. Leaving your cats at home while you work or visit friends for a day is perfectly fine, as long as you make sure you’ve provided them with plenty of food and fresh water along with a clean litter box.

If you’re leaving your cat alone for a day, it’s also important to give them plenty of room to roam. Avoid keeping them in one room while you’re gone and provide stimulation like a scratching post, perches, and toys.

Important Note: Kittens should not be left alone for more than a few hours at a time. They require more regular care and contact to adjust to your home.

So, if you’re wondering “Can I leave my cat alone for a week?” The answer is a resounding NO! But there are things you can do to keep your cat safely in your home while you’re away. 

What Happens When You Leave Cats at Home

Leave cat alone for 7 days

Leaving a cat alone for a week can take its toll on your furry friend’s health. The stereotype that cats are solitary and aloof is false, and felines can experience separation anxiety. While they may not be as vocal as dogs that are stressed, they still struggle with change.

Some signs of separation anxiety in cats include:

  • Destructive behaviour
  • Excessive hiding, grooming, and/or vocalization
  • Inappropriate elimination habits (i.e. eliminating outside of the litter box)
  • Refusal to eat or drink

In addition to separation anxiety, there are also safety issues involved when leaving your cat alone for long periods of time. For example, when left to their own devices your cat could:

  • Become shut or locked in a room without access to their food and water
  • Become injured or sick – from falls, eating something they shouldn’t, etc.
  • Become stuck in small spaces
  • Spill their water and be left with nothing to drink

Having someone check in on your furry friend at least once a day while you’re away can help mitigate these risks. And, if your cat does become ill or injured, they can receive the veterinary care needed as soon as possible rather than waiting for you to return home.

As you can imagine, leaving your cat alone for 7 days can negatively impact your cat’s health and mental wellbeing. This separation can also affect your home. Even the most well-behaved, laid-back cats can become destructive when bored or experiencing cat anxiety.

Options for Caring For Your Cat While You’re Away

Luckily, there are options available so you don’t have to leave your cat alone for a week while you enjoy your vacation. Most pet owners decide between two options: to board cats or leave at home with a pet sitter or trusted friend.

Both a boarding kennel and a cat sitter have their pros and cons but are still great options for watching your adult cat for longer amounts of time. Having a cat sitter check in on your furry family member every day is often the least stressful option for your cat and can give you peace of mind that they’re receiving the love and care they need while you’re away. 

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About the Author: Tung Chi