While cats claim to be independent, we know the truth. They go to water without their human. So I thought I’d find out just how long it’s ok to leave a cat without company. And the exact amount of time will surprise you…
When it comes to their need for food and water, sure we can leave cats at home for a weekend and assume they’ll be ok. But while those feeding bowls may be full, their emotional cup may be running empty. Cats have these under appreciated social and emotional needs that just can’t be met if they’re alone. In fact, if you’ve ever come home to a stray vomit, diarrhoea or a toilet attempt that missed the mark, these are probably signs of separation stress. I find a harsher hair-coat with fur that falls out easily is also a big sign. And it’s all surprisingly common.
So how long is too long without contact? Cats are such emotional sponges that it’s now considered unfair to leave them completely alone for more than 18-24 hours. So while 3 hours to the shops might raise some eyebrows, 8 hours in the office will be suffered (and possibly slept through), the alarm bells start to ring with anything much longer. In fact, that long weekend away will feel like a much looonger weekend for the whiskered one.
But rather than canceling all holiday plans, try to work with their secretly sensitive heart. Having a cat sitter visit at least once a day to top up food, water and pat levels will be greatly appreciated. That outlet (and that lap) will mean the world to them. Leaving familiar smells like pillows and couch covers as well as food puzzles and even putting the TV on a timer will really help to fill in those gaps between those sitter visits.
Just brace yourself for the Academy Award winning performance when you return though. They might pretend your return doesn’t mean anything to them. But trust me, they’re doing cartwheels…on the inside!