You may be wondering this because you have a trip planned, or your new job has landed you weekend stays out of town. Whatever the case, most assume that cats are not like dogs and will not get lonely. The truth may have you packing early to go back home.
Yes, cats can become lonely and depending on the breed, it may only take a few hours for this to happen. While cats are not pack animals, they do not like being left alone. As puzzling as that sounds, let me explain.
Cats who are raised the typical house-cat way are born into the world with 3 or more siblings. The mother tends to them for weeks – nursing, cleaning, and so on. As the kittens grow, human interaction does as well. The owners may start playing with them, petting them, and even letting them sleep near them. This has infused a comforting bond between the tiny kittens and us, the overly large hairless cats. Soon enough, they are sent off for adoption to be someone else’s family friend. They continue to have a bond as a kitten with their new family and as they get older, they become more independent.
Well, cats by nature are not pack animals. By us spoiling them and feeding them mass amounts of attention when they are kittens, they grown to accept this bond as normal behavior. Even when they don’t want to be cuddled or held, they still enjoy knowing we humans are nearby. Think of yourself as a security blanket or a stuffed animal to a child who is beyond the age of needing to carry it everywhere. While it serves no purpose to keep it, they do because it still offers security.
Once a cat is accustomed to having a human around, they instinctively associate them with a “normal environment”. I would not recommend leaving your cat home alone for more than 24 hours without human interaction for the following reasons :
Damage – Cats have been known to get bored easily and start playing with just about anything in the house. With you not there to supervise, they can damage things you own or even hurt themselves.
Litter Box – Would you use a toilet that has more than one days worth of poo inside it that no one flushed? I think not! Well, imagine you had to walk in it to go.
Feeding – Cats like to be fed on a schedule, so does their digestive tract. When you suddenly decide to leave for a day or two and leave them a ton of food, they may not eat it all in one sitting, but they will start to overeat simply because they are bored, just like we do.
Depression – Cats are more likely to develop depression when they miss someone that is close to them, and this does not take long! Depression can lead to health issues as it does in humans.
Cabin Fever – Without the noise of you in the home, doing what you do on your day to day routine, your cat will be introduced to near silence. No running water, no shouting, no vacuum, no footsteps, no nothing! While it may enjoy the silence for a few hours, it will get old fast.
Fear – If your cat believes you have left for good or it feels that its life is in danger, and no one is there to protect it, it may leave or attempt to leave the house. While a cat is not as powerful as a dog or a raccoon, never underestimate their escape tactics!
If you have to leave for more than 24 hours…
- For short trips that will be under 48 hours, have someone stop by your house or apartment and spend time with your cat both days. For longer trips of 72 hours or more, have someone spend the night there.
- If that is not an option, find a good pet sitter to come to your home and feed them, clean their box etc. This can be expensive but you do not want to take your cat somewhere where they will be left in a cage all day. Dogs can handle this better than cats.
- Have your cat stay with a friend or family member they know. You want to make sure they know them well enough to feel comfortable in their home. If your cat has a fear of dogs and they have one, make sure they know to have an area blocked off where the dog can’t get to, but the cat can. Gates work well for this.