A certain level of guilt settles in every time I leave my cat home alone. It doesn’t matter if it’s for one day or an entire week, but I always feel like a lousy owner when my cat doesn’t see me for an extended amount of time – even if I go above and beyond to ensure their needs are taken care of.
If you often feel the same way, here are 10 practical things you can start doing to make it a little less nerve-wracking for everyone involved.
10. Bring Your Suitcase Out Early
If you tend to leave town often, you’ll notice your cat starts acting a certain way once you bring the suitcase out – they know what it means. So, how do we counter this? We have to help our cat form positive associations with the suitcase, which means bringing your suitcase out at least one week earlier.
Instead of packing it up and setting it aside, leave the suitcase open and slowly pack it over the course of that week. Put some of your cat’s favorite toys in the suitcase and let them get comfortable inside it – pack some clothes you aren’t going to need because they will get hairy.
And when you go to pack for real, don’t wash the ‘dummy’ clothes you had in there – you’ll need them for #2 on this list!
9. Set Up Multiple Water Dispensers
Much like humans, cats need water before they need food. According to Purina, cats become dehydrated after 24 hours without water and won’t survive past 2-3 days without some quality H20. If you’re a loving cat owner like myself, the mere thought of that breaks your heart.
With that said, let’s all vow never to let our cats go a single second without access to water. For those who plan on leaving your cat home alone, try setting up two water dispensers and an extra bowl of water, just in case. Even if you only leave for one day, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
8. Invest in an Automatic Food Dispenser
Cats can theoretically survive for 1-2 weeks without food, but we will take the same vow with food as we did with water. After all, your cat is much happier when it has easy access to food!
That’s what makes an automatic cat food dispenser so perfect. It ensures your cat gets the right amount of food at the right time, preventing you from ruining their regular eating routine.
If you’re leaving for a week or longer, it might help to put an extra bowl of food out – just in case the food dispenser breaks or the power goes out.
7. Freshen Up Your Cat’s Litter Box
They’ve got food, they’ve got water, what’s next? Litter!
First things first, you’ll want to give your cat’s litter box a full cleaning – the best cleaning it has ever had! Once it’s clean, fill it with some fresh litter and make sure it’s their favorite brand!
While the litter box will get dirty rather quickly, you can minimize the damage with a self-cleaning litter box – buying yourself an extra few days before a touch-up is needed. The cleaner you can keep it while you’re gone, the happier your cat will be!
6. Provide Some Quality Entertainment
They may do a lot of lounging and napping, but cats also need some entertainment and exercise every once in a while. With that said, who will play with them if you have to leave your cat home alone? They might have to learn to play with themselves, but that’s okay!
Some of the best toys for cats home alone are ones that move, make noise, or dangle. Automatic lasers, battery-operated feather wands, scratch-and-roll toys, and self-rotating balls are always a big hit with cats. Anything that’ll distract them from being alone!
5. Ensure a Safe & Suitable Environment
Cats can get a little rambunctious from time to time, especially if they’re surrounded by cords, plants, plastic bags, sharp objects, stringy objects, and anything that even remotely resembles a toy. They might even get ahold of supplements and medication, if shaped like a treat.
That’s why it’s important to cat-proof your home anytime you leave your cat home alone for more than one day. Any chemicals or dangerous foods should also be stored properly and out of harm’s way.
By ensuring a safe and suitable environment, your cat can run around and have fun without injuring itself or creating mayhem.
4. Set Up an Indoor Camera
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m on vacation, and I think to myself, “I wonder what my cat is doing right now…”
If you’re the same, then don’t fret it – we have technology for that! By strategically placing indoor cameras in areas where your cat spends most of their time, you can keep an eye on your furry friend – even when you’re not physically present.
Some indoor cameras also allow you to talk to your cat and are motion-sensored, so you’re alerted when they walk by.
3. Give Them Easy Access to Daily Sunlight
Sunlight has a way of uplifting our mood – and your cat is no different! While it’s commonplace (and recommended) to keep your blinds down when you leave for vacation, leave one or two blinds open – preferably in a place that they spend a lot of time in – so your cat isn’t stuck in the dark.
The same goes for lights. You don’t want to run your power bill up, but leave a light or even a lamp on in the rooms your cat plays in. They’ll appreciate it, making it easier to see them when you check in through the camera!
2. Leave Your Scent Behind
Of all the things you do when leaving your cat home alone, this is one of the most important. When you leave your scent behind, your cat won’t feel as alone when you’re gone – it’s the next best thing to you being there in person.
The best way to do this is by leaving unwashed clothes – something you wore recently – on your bed or wherever they like to nap. For the same reason, I also suggest not washing your bed sheets or living room furniture.
1. Ask a Friend or Family Member to Check In
I saved the best tip for last. Your cat is used to having you around for comfort and security, but that’s taken away from them when you leave on vacation. The best way to counter that is with a cat sitter – whether it be a professional or a friend/family member – it is entirely up to you.
Having someone check in on your cat, even if it’s just for an hour every other day, makes a world of difference for your cat. They not only get some much-needed attention, but they’ll have fresh food, fresh water, and a fresh litter box!
So, how long can cats stay home alone? Well, that answer depends on several factors. If you follow the 10 tips above, your cat will live in luxury while you enjoy your time away. They’ll be waiting with lots of hugs when you return!