You’re going to the cottage for the weekend, you packed everything you need, the dog is wagging his tail in the backseat, ready for adventure, and the cat has a clean litterbox, three days of food and water and all her favourite toys. Will kitty be OK on her own while you’re gone? The short answer is No.
Cats can be easily mislabeled as “low maintenance.” They don’t mind being alone (for a time), they use a litter box and, generally, won’t eat days worth of food in one go (I do suspect Wallace would). Below the surface though, they have daily physiological and psychological needs that are equally as important as their canine counterparts…they’re just different and trickier to recognize, especially for first-time cat owners. If anything, cats may be higher maintenance pets because of their differences and psychological complexity. That’s part of why we love them, right?
Most cats will tolerate being left alone for 8-12 hours. They may seem like they don’t mind being left longer, but independent as cats are, they do miss their humans and if left so long on a regular basis, stress behaviours like overgrooming and urinating outside the box could develop over time, they will oversleep and likely become overweight. Kittens, seniors and new additions absolutely need to be checked on at least once during their humans’ long day out.
About being home alone for a matter of days… It’s totally fine to leave cats home while their humans go on a trip! Kitties would likely prefer it over a boarding facility, anyway. However, that’s being left home, not alone. It’s an absolute must that cats are checked in on at least once a day to clean out the litter boxes, provide fresh food and water, enjoy a cuddle/play session and more than anything, be able to get timely veterinary care in case they get sick or hurt.
So, cat lovers, let’s spread the message to our friends and families with cats to make sure they are taken care of when their humans leave. We can change the general “cats are low maintenance” mindset by setting and sharing good examples.
Kathleen and Wallace