Mindful Monday – Should You Leave Your Cat Alone?

People have busy lives—even cat people. We have to go to work. We go out for exercise and social activity. And sometimes we go out of town, especially during the holidays. Guess what? Cats don’t really like it when you’re gone. Your cat might seem aloof. But you may also notice that she comes around to check on you every once in a while throughout the day and night. Right? She hangs around at meal time. A smart indoor/outdoor cat will come in before dark. She may enjoy curling up in a warm lap and snuggling alongside you all night long. And when you’re gone, she might feel the loss. What to do?

If you’re typically gone a lot, most experts suggest having two or more cats. Cats do not necessarily have a herd instinct, but they do seem to like the company. Some cats even go so far as to make friends with a dog, rabbit, hamster, duck, etc.

Do not leave your cat alone to fend for herself for long periods of time. Ask a neighbor or a friend to check on your cat if you plan to be gone for more than 24 hours. Things can happen. I’ve had cats barf up their breakfast into the food bowl. Now what cat’s going to eat anything after that happens? Cats can get themselves into dangerous situations when playing or exploring even in the house. A cat can become suddenly ill and need medical treatment.

Once—only once—did we consider leaving our three cats alone without someone checking on them. We were going to be gone for about 24 hours. At that time, they were eating kibbles only. We had 3 litter boxes. We would leave several bowls of kibbles throughout the house and several bowls of water. At the last minute, however, our next door neighbor, Robert, offered to check on the cats while we were gone. We agreed and thanked him. When we returned, we learned that when he came in that evening, he smelled gas. Our stove connection had broken. Robert called another neighbor and they shut the gas off. I still get sick at my stomach at the thought of what could have happened if Robert hadn’t come in when he did.

According to experts, most cats do better when left home alone (with someone to check on them) than being boarded. Being territorial, cats often become anxious and upset when carted off to stay somewhere else—especially when it involves confinement. If possible, have someone come in and feed, pet, and change litter at least once a day while you’re gone this holiday season. Leave the TV on for company and provide some interesting toys for your cats while you’re gone. A puzzle feeder, for example, a paper bag or series of boxes they can play in. Our cats enjoy an overturned box with doors and windows cut into it so they can go inside and hide and play with each other through the openings. No bags with handles, please. Cats can get caught up in the handles.

Here’s a link with additional ideas for leaving your cat home alone.


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