Is leaving a cat alone while you’re at work fine? Do cats get bored or miss us? What do cats get up to at home all day?
These are all normal questions to ask yourself when you close the door for the day and head off to work. And there are some interesting answers as I will explain.
Most of us work away from our homes, so we have little choice but to leave our cats at home while we’re out all day. Plus, one of the reasons busy professionals have cats over, say dogs, is because they fit busy lifestyles better.
There’s plenty you can do to make sure your cat is happy and healthy. Here’s everything you need to know about making sure your feline is as happy and content as they can be while you’re out.
You Don’t Need to Feel Too Guilty
Cats are loving companions, and I’m sure you get loads of joy from playing with them and snuggling up for cuddles in the evening – as do they.
They are very independent and often solitary animals. Unlike dogs, for example, that are pack animals and get attached to their owners. This isn’t to say that cats do not get attached to us, they do – but it’s a very different bond.
Cats also sleep 13-18 hours a day on average. This means if they’re mostly awake when you’re home because you’re giving them attention (minus when you’re asleep of course) there’s a good chance they sleep most of the day when you’re out.
A cat does need to be walked or given exercise. Sure, there are plenty of overweight cats that could do with a little motivation. But jokes aside, you don’t need to do much more than play with your cat to help them get the exercise they need.
Your home is a dynamic playground. Another reason why cats are more adept at being left alone than dogs is due to how agile they are. A dog has little more than four walls to explore, while cats can jump, climb, and explore places even we can’t reach.
Do Cats Suffer from Separation Anxiety When Home Alone?
Cats can suffer from separation anxiety, yes.
Although they don’t depend on us or need constant attention like some other pets, they do miss us when we’re not around. This is a nice thought, of course, but it’s not nice to think they’re sad when we’re at work.
The Ohio College of Veterinary Medicine detail some of the signs of separation anxiety in cats as:
- Not eating or drinking while they’re alone in the house
- Excessive vocalization – lots of meowing, crying, moaning, trilling etc
- Compulsive behaviors like over-grooming, chewing on stuff, etc
- Destroying things in your home
- Pooping outside of their litter box, vomiting, general sickness
- Being overly excited when you come home
If you can identify some of these signs, here are some things you should do to help lessen their anxiety:
- Set up a nice some nice spots with interesting views to keep them interested, like a window perch
- Leave out interactive toys for them to play with
- Hide treats around the home to give them something fun and rewarding to do
- Consider getting another cat as a playmate
- Arrange for a pet sitter, neighbor or friend to pop in for 30 minutes or so
Have a good think about the types of things your cat enjoys doing, and see how you can provide something while you’re out. It’s not always easy, because it’s on them to interact with things, but it’s possible.
In my experience, making a few small changes like the ones above can make a big difference. It becomes easier over time too for most cats. If the symptoms worsen, however, you will need to seek the advice of a vet or pet behavioral expert.
Leaving Your Cat Home Alone While You’re at Work – Checklist
If you want to put your mind at ease that you’ve done everything you can to ensure your cat doesn’t want for anything while you’re out, here’s a basic checklist:
- The litter box is clean and smelling fresh – you don’t want accidents outside the box!
- You’ve left plenty of food out – use an automatic feeder if you want to stage their food.
- They have plenty of fresh water – water is more important than food.
- There are plenty of interesting spots to chill and sleep – window perches, cat furniture, trees, etc.
- Your thermostat is set to maintain a comfortable temperature – you can find the answer to the ideal room temperature for cats in winter here.
- You’ve left plenty of toys to keep them amused – try using catnip filled toys or Tatarian honeysuckle if your cats love these.
You know your cat better than anyone, over time you’ll notice things they like more than others. If they have a spot they love sleeping in, make sure it’s available. A favorite toy? Leave it somewhere obvious, and so on.
Considerations When Leaving Kittens and Elderly Cats Alone All Day
You might need to take some special precautions if you’re leaving a kitten or a senior cat along every day.
Kittens need a little extra care. They are more likely to get themselves into trouble by exploring and testing their own limits. I’ve read that some people kitten-proof one room, then keep their kitty in there rather than giving them free roam of the house.
Kittens are able to get themselves into all kinds of trouble that you wouldn’t necessarily think of. Such as getting stuck at the top of a curtain they’ve climbed, getting trapped in a laundry basket, chewing on wires and other potentially dangerous things – all of which happened with my kittens over the years.
If your kitten is very young, could you drop them off with someone who’s home all day? Or, have someone pop in to check they’re ok halfway through the day? If not, you’ll have to kitten-proof the best you can and make changes as and when you see what they’re destroying.
Senior cats require some extra considerations too. They aren’t as likely to get themselves into trouble like a kitten, and they sleep more. It’s more important to ensure they always have clean water and plenty of comfortable places to sleep.
In Summary – What to Know About Leaving Your Cat at Home All Day
It’s normal to worry about our cats when we’re out at work, as well as miss them a lot!
As long as you make sure all their basic needs are met as per the checklist above, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Some cats take it worse than others, as I explained, but there’s always a way around it.
How long do you leave your cat alone for? What kind of things do you do to make sure they’re happy and have some amusement? I’d love to hear about it, just leave me a message below. Thanks.