Like pet-parents, cats can suffer from separation anxiety.
They look to you for attention and care, just as you love to shower them with cuddles. However, there will be times when you have to leave them (with a heavy heart) and fulfill other commitments.
Unless you work at home, your professional schedule may demand that you leave your cat alone during the day. Grown cats can manage by themselves for 8-10 hours. But younger kittens shouldn't be home alone for more than four hours.
How do you help your cat stay independent and safe while you’re not around?
You need to take a step-by-step approach. Help your cat adapt to life in your absence by increasing the number of hours he spends alone every day. Once you get started, gauge your cat's habits. Do they show any drastic changes? Especially look for litter behaviour, appetite, and unusual mood changes.
When you do have to leave your cat alone, be sure to keep some key points in mind:
That being said, here are some pointers to help you (and your cat) stay ready when you leave for a day away.
Your cat's appetite and hydration should be key priorities. If your cat likes dry food, you can keep bowls ready for his next meals in various places in the house. In the case of canned food, make sure you maintain a consistent temperature in the house so that it doesn't go stale.
Fill extra water containers and place them in nooks and corners. Make sure there is no shortage of clean water while you are away. It's imperative to know your cat's appetite. Know how much he usually eats and drinks so you can put out the right amount of food and water for every serving. You want to make an informed decision, so you don’t end up with a hungry buddy back home.
If you don't have an extra litter box, consider adding one immediately to help make sure your cat can relieve herself in a clean environment.
Pay close attention to your cat's preferences, and choose one that your pet will actually use. Modkat offers litter boxes that allow entry on top, in the front, either top or front, or in a tray.
If you’re investing in a new litter box you’ll also need to acquaint your cat with it before you leave him alone for long. Cats generally know what to do, but your pet may need some extra encouragement to get used to a new box.
Cats get bored pretty darn quickly! With you gone, your cat — an intelligent animal, according to science — will look for more activity and entertainment than usual.
Ensure he has exciting toys to play with. Otherwise, you’re putting your furniture at stake. Modkat's Scratcher Lounges make for a great play companion. They help your cat meet his exercise needs and relieve stress.
You can also leave the radio or Alexa on and let your cat's favorite music play so that he doesn't feel like a loner. If he’s outdoorsy, a cat door would be helpful but only if there is no risk of him running away or encountering a hostile predator.
A lower-risk option would be setting up a window-side bed or a raised-porch lounge for him to relax. An outside bird feeder can provide hours of entertainment. Non-toxic plants can also give kitty something fun to chew on indoors.
When you’re planning on being gone for longer than a day, it may help to hire a cat sitter. Arrange for a sitter beforehand and encourage interaction so your cat gets accustomed to them. Ask the sitter to share photos and videos of the cat while you're away so you know what he’s doing and so you won’t miss him too much.
Alternatively, you can consider leaving your cat at a boarding facility. In both these cases, document and share your cat's feeding habits, litter behaviors, medications (if any), personality type, and emergency contact numbers with the caretaker.
When you make the right arrangements in advance, expect nothing less than an energetic and happy companion to greet you when you get back home!
No matter how cheerful she seems, though, make sure to examine your cat closely when you return. If you notice any weight loss or destructive behavior, consult your vet immediately.
While cats are not as likely to suffer from separation anxiety as their canine cousins, our pets are more social and bonded to us than the stereotypes suggest. Let's make life as easy as we can for our faithful feline friends by keeping them safe and happy while we're away.
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