Do Cats Like to Be Alone?
Chances are your cat likes to stay to him or herself most of the time, so you might think they don’t even notice your absence each day after you head to work. Actually, you’d be surprised at how much they do notice.
If you’re a cat person, it might appear pretty easy to set things up for your cat while you’re away, and in general, for a lot of cats, it is pretty easy. However, there are special considerations to keep in mind if you leave your cat every day to go to work or school, or plan to head out of town for a few days. Sure, your cat is pretty self-sufficient in most ways, but that litter box won’t clean itself.
Here are some things you need to know before you leave your cat alone, whether for a day or a week.
Remember to Scoop the Litter Box
No matter how long you’ll be gone, cats need a clean litter box. If the litter box has not been cleaned, you won’t like the results.
They will often go just outside the box to let you know that it needs cleaned, or they’ll find some out-of-the-way place in the house to use. Sometimes cats will go outside of their litter box when they’re feeling unwell, too. Before you get frustrated, it’s a good idea to look into all of the possibilities, especially if your feline’s usually good about using the litter box. Unless the cause your cat’s “accidents” is obvious, make an appointment for a health evaluation.
Cats Need Stimulation Even While You’re Gone
People think cats can be left alone because they sleep so much and tend to be independent, but they need interaction and enrichment, too. This will help your cat to alleviate any boredom issues, and the behavior problems that can develop as a result.
Create a little fun for the cat before you go off to work. There are so many simple ways to create activity and entertainment for a home-alone kitty. Puzzle feeders, a cat tree, cat perch, empty cardboard boxes, open paper bags (handles removed), interesting and safe toys, and even a cozy bed near a sunny window can make a difference to a cat who spends the day alone.
If a pet sitter will be caring for you furry friend while you are away, be sure to leave out all your kitties favorite toys so the caregiver can provide the mental stimulation they may be lacking and keep them from getting too bored. This will also allow your cat to “forget” that you are gone for a little while.
Cats Get Lonely, Too
You enjoy spending time with your cat, whether you’re playing or just cuddling up on the couch. But sometimes you have no choice but to leave your cat alone—especially if you work outside of your home. Even if your cat is used to you leaving daily, they can get lonely and you should know the signs that there might be a problem.
Because cats appear very stoic, it can be easy to miss signs indicating that all is not happy in kitty’s world. Changes in behavior, appetite, litter box habits, or grooming could be signs that a cat is having trouble with too much time spent alone.
Try to Ease Your Cat’s Anxiety
If you discover that your cat doesn’t do well when you leave even for short periods, there are things that can help their anxiety. The veterinarians at The Cat Doctor suggest using a pheromone plug-in, such as Feliway for cats, which uses artificial pheromones to help your cat to stay calm. Consider having some background noise, such as a TV or classical music, might help with anxiety, too.
Cats (Probably) Notice That You’re Gone
Even if your cat isn’t the most loving creature, rest assured that he or she will eventually realize you’re not home. You are the source of their food, after all.
My own seven cats’ reactions to me going on vacation range from glad to see me again to, ‘Oh, were you gone? I hadn’t noticed!’ to ‘Who are you and where have you been?’.
Your Cat Might Need a Friend
Sometimes lonely cats just need a friend—a feline friend, that is. If you leave your cat alone every day, consider whether you have the time and energy to give to your cat. If the answer is in the negatives and your cat clearly needs more interaction, another cat can fill that need.
Many cats who spend time alone may actually benefit from having a feline companion. But never get another cat solely for the benefit of your current one. You must be fully committed to your new pet and to working through any issues that might develop between your pets. Not to mention, you must be sure you can financially manage a multi-cat household.
Cats Crave Routine
A pet sitter or friend should always be called if you’re going to leave your pet for a long period of time. Cats should never be left for more than 24 hours without having someone check on their well-being. In addition to helping with unexpected illness or injury, the caregiver will help keep your cat on a routine, which is important because “cats are creatures of habit”.
It will be less stressful for your cat if a normal routine is maintained in terms of having the litter box scooped regularly, food served at the normal times, and some degree of normal activity in the home. The sitter should check the food and water bowls and refill accordingly. The sitter should also administer any medications, scoop out the litter box, and spend a good 15 to 30 minutes either interacting with the cat or simply being present in the home.
Keep Feeding Routines Regular
You’d never leave your cat without food and water, of course, but when they get that food is very important. Because cats like routine, any friend or pet sitter should visit your cat at least as often as the times you give your cat meals. If the cat is normally fed on a schedule, you would want to keep as close to that schedule as possible to reduce stress.
Try to be mindful that your cat is a feeling and emotional creature that needs stimulation and has emotional needs, just like us humans. Always try to view the world through the eyes of your special feline companion. By doing this, it just may change your perspective of the world your cat lives in.