Being a cat owner takes a lot of responsibility and it won’t be a piece of cake especially if you work a full-time job. You also have to understand that having a pet means less leisure and more work in terms of feeding, grooming, health checks, and even social needs.
No cat parent thinks it isn’t worth it at the end of the day. Just seeing your adorable feline after a busy and annoying day at work already alleviates so much of your stress. In return, cats, too, should be given enough of their needs. This article will discuss how you could keep your cat safe and calm when you’re coming home late from an activity or work.
Do Cats Like to be in Solitude?
The answer is clearly yes. Felines want and need to be alone sometimes. When they’re all by themselves, they enjoy looking out the windows, playing with their toys, eating, and just sleeping. This is why they are often generalized as easy-going and relaxed.
And in fact, experts say that allowing them to be alone for a certain amount of time is actually healthy for them. Like a parent, you should let your cat be a cat because that’s just what it is. A little space, according to these experts, strengthens your bond with each other and what matters is that cats still have that structured sequence of activities that they need to do.
Cats may enjoy being in solitude at times, but your furry friends may still notice your absence, especially if it has been hours since you were home. They will start to miss you and feel lonely. After all, cats are social beings too. Even if they are used to that type of routine, they still can’t be left alone for too long or they will be stressed out. Signs of stress include changes in behavior, appetite, litter box habits, and even grooming.
Furthermore, despite them being independent, cats still need your assistance in many things. We know they can’t pour cat food in their bowls by themselves. They also can’t give affection to themselves the way you give them.
How Long Can They be Left Alone?
According to Petcube, the number of hours that felines can be left alone at home depends on their age. Kittens under four months can only be left for 2-4 hours. Those that are 4-5 months old can be left unattended for just 5 hours.
Kittens that are 6 months old can handle themselves for 8 hours. Meanwhile, healthy grown-up cats are self-sufficient enough to be by themselves for a day or two.
If your feline has separation anxiety or other diseases, it can’t be left alone for too long. And beyond the said number of hours, the food you left may not be enough anymore, water becomes musty, and litter box needs to be scooped out.
What Should You Do Before Leaving Your Pet?
There are many things to consider before you leave cats for a long time in order to keep them safe and calm. Here are some of them.
Make sure they have enough food and water.
Of course, this is the most essential measure to take. Never leave them without enough food or water for the day in order to keep them healthy and hydrated.
You may even opt to get an automatic cat food dispenser that has a good digital timer and is built solid so that it can munch on enough amount of food at the right time. If this is too expensive for you, you can just leave extra bowls of food which is sufficient for the whole day.
Remember not to leave wet food for them. This is commonly felines’ favorite type of cat food and they might just consume more than the necessary amount and get sick. Dry food is cheaper as well!
As for water, leave plenty of it so that they don’t feel thirsty throughout the day. You may also consider getting a pet water fountain.
Leave the litter box sanitized
Leave the house with a clean litter box so as not to cause further health issues like bacterial infection or overexposure to ammonia between you and your pet. An extra one is highly recommended especially if there is no cat sitter to clean them.
If you don’t want to put two or more litter boxes in your home a good option is getting a self-cleaning litter box that will keep the litter bed always clean, ready to be used by your cat. The best automatic self-cleaning litter box cleans itself minutes after the cat uses it. Nowadays you can even check on your Smartphone how many times your cat uses the automatic litter box and it let’s you know when the waste compartment needs to be emptied. Devices like the Litter Robot Connect gives you that option.
Moreover, do not forget to choose the best type of litter for your cat. Various types range from clumping bentonite clay to gel crystals, pine, and even paper pellets.
Keep the place well-ventilated
Check the weather forecast before leaving the house. This is an important step especially if you’ll be gone for longer than usual.
If it’s cold or rainy, provide your cat with proper temperature through something warm to sit on or a blanket. In the summer, leave the air conditioner on.
Examine all parts of the house
We know how cats intentionally love to knock over things from high places like kitchen counters and tables, so keep vases and other fragile items away from your pet if you don’t want to come home to a messy house and an injured pal.
Make sure to also leave no door open so that it won’t escape and get lost.
Leave their favorite toys with them
This is the most effective way for them to be mentally stimulated, entertained, and not easily bored while you’re not around. Remember that these cat toys are temporary substitutes for your playtime routine together so they should be carefully selected based on safety measures and your cat’s preference.
Consider boarding service
Considered as the most popular resort when leaving the house for a long time, pet boarding services will not get you worried about whether your beloved cat is being fed and hydrated right while also getting proper ventilation. Some facilities even have that “homey” vibe in them!
However, pet boarding may be too expensive and your cat may feel stressed since they are not familiar with the environment. When considering this as an option, remember to do your research about the company’s safety precautions, its reputation, and its other services which you can avail for your cat.
Hire a pet sitter
As mentioned before, cats need their own routine. In order to maintain this while you are away, hiring a cat sitter is highly suggested to satisfy these “creatures of habits”.
This caretaker may be your neighbor, friend or even a professional cat sitter who will check on their well-being. They must be reliable enough to prepare food and water, clean litter boxes, and have their playtime together. It is much better if these guardians are insured.
Help them with their anxiety
Cats can ease our depression and anxiety by just cuddling them and keeping us company. But feline pets also get sad when they are left alone for a long time. To return the favor, you might as well do the same in helping them deal with separation anxiety. Pheromone plug-ins would be ideal for them to stay calm.
Background noises like the TV also help with this issue. Additionally, you may even get them another feline friend that will fill their need for interaction and time when you’re too busy for work.
Make it up to them
It is possible for your cat to feel upset about your lack of time and presence so you have to make sure you have saved at least an hour to make it up to them. Simple gestures like brushing their fur, cuddling them, and giving them treats are enough to make them feel loved and finally go back to the stoic and independent pets that they are.