Leaving a cat home alone while at work

If you are planning to adopt a cat but work, you should find out beforehand whether it is possible to keep a cat in a species-appropriate way. We explain how long cats can stay alone or whether you should get a second animal. It is also necessary to think about how you can keep your cat occupied when you are out of the house.

If you are away for the whole day, you should keep two cats. They will keep each other busy and provide plenty of social interaction. After you leave work, you should also keep them busy and play with them. Leaving a single animal alone for long periods can lead to stress and aggression. Make your four walls cat-friendly with plenty of opportunities to explore so you don’t get bored.

How long can you leave cats alone?

This question cannot be answered in principle, because every animal is different. Therefore, you should test how long your cat can be left alone. If a new kitten has moved in with you and you leave the house for the first time, you should come back quite soon.

You should not leave your cat alone for more than half an hour the very first time. If you leave your cat alone for a short period of time at first, your cat will trust you more quickly. If you stay away a little longer, she will know that you are coming back.

Gradually, you can increase the intervals to see how your cat reacts when you return home.

If there are changes in behaviour or protests, it will be clear that she has missed you. You should not leave her alone for longer than this determined period of time. Alternatively, you can arrange for a cat sitter to look after your pet when you are away.

You can leave cats alone longer if they are not the only cat living with you, but have a companion. This way they can be kept busy all the time. This leads us directly to the next question.

If cats are alone a lot: would it be better to keep two cats?

Contrary to popular belief, cats are not born to be alone. They love to play or cuddle together with their fellow cats.

Without a companion, you are the only caregiver. A second cat helps if you work and can’t be home all day.

Cats need social contact with each other. Otherwise they would compensate for their loneliness, which they can also express to you with bad behaviour. Other consequences of a lonely cat can be scratched furniture and walls, but also aggressiveness.

Many cat owners forget how sensitive the velvet paws are, they quickly react with behavioural problems when they don’t feel well.

Other cats suddenly become unclean, incompatible with other animals or even suffer from depression. Not only your pet, but also you benefit from a second cat if you work and are away from home during the day.

The two of you can avoid boredom, as there is always someone to romp or cuddle with. This makes cats feel more comfortable and balanced. If you are going to be away for a long time during the day, it is usually easier to leave two cats alone.

In this way, you counteract the bad habits of a lonely cat and prevent aggression, destructiveness and uncleanliness.

How do I keep cats occupied when I’m away?

When you’re not at home, you need to keep your cat occupied, otherwise she can quickly become bored and lonely. You have already learned what this means for cats in the previous section: Aggression, destructiveness and uncleanliness. But what can you do to counteract this?

There is a large selection of cat toys available in specialised shops. These include scratching posts, dens and all kinds of smaller products.

But it’s also easier and cheaper to keep your cat occupied while you’re away. Set up a challenge course for your cat. Take some boards or similar and place them on trestles. The cat can explore the flat from a completely different perspective and discover it in a new way.

Cats are also very grateful for catwalks that are attached to the walls. This creates even more space for them and provides variety. In addition, your velvet paw has a good overview from its elevated vantage point on the wall.

Attach the cat bed to the window with suction cups. This will give your cat an elevated spot – you might also tie this into the boards on the wall.

Another option is to hide treats. These can be placed all over the house. You can also put them in places where it is more difficult to find them. These can be elevated places or places where your cat has to fish for the treat with its paws to get to it.

Sooner or later, the animals will notice the aroma of these and immediately start searching. After they have found something, they also feel a sense of achievement. This motivates them even when you are not there. When choosing treats, look for healthy varieties without sugar or additives.

If you have an indoor cat, you can bring it items from nature. You are free to choose what you bring. For example, scatter stones or branches around the flat and your cat will soon become very interested in them and spend some time with them.

How much activity do cats need when I come home from work?

You should leave yourself plenty of time to spend with your cat after work. Less than an hour would be underwhelming, she needs activity and stimulation to follow her natural hunting instincts. More activity leads to a balanced cat that does not develop behavioural problems.

Of course, you are welcome to play with her for longer, especially if she shows you that she hasn’t had enough. However, you can also spread the time you spend playing with your cat over the rest of the day. Always take into account the individual needs of your cat.

While older cats don’t play as often or for as long and prefer to sleep more, it’s different with young cats. You will have to invest a lot more time in keeping them busy. You should be aware of this before you get a cat that is still young.

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