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How Long Can You Safely Leave Your Cat Alone? Vet Approved Tips & Alternatives

Written by: Emma Stenhouse

Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Striped cat in modern home

How Long Can You Safely Leave Your Cat Alone? Vet Approved Tips & Alternatives


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many of us cat owners need to leave our cats alone on a regular basis. But where’s the line between an okay amount of time for your cat to be left alone and too long?

The answer depends on the breed, age, and health of your cat, but as a general rule, kittens (depending on the age) can be from 2-6 hours and healthy adult cats up to 12 hours. However, it is very important to mention there are a few guidelines to set a time limit that you’re comfortable with and that works for your feline friend too. Keep reading to learn how long cats can stay alone.

How Long Can I Leave My Cat Alone?

Before venturing out for the day or planning a weekend away, you might find yourself wondering, how long can I leave my cat home alone? Some cats can suffer from separation anxiety if left home alone on their own, even for just a few hours. Even if they have enough food, water, and entertainment, they can become anxious if their owners are away from home for too long. However, some signs of separation anxiety can also occur in case of an underlying medical issue, so it is important to get your cat checked out by a vet first.

Cats suffering from separation anxiety may exhibit the following signs:
  • Destructive behavior
  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Not using their litter tray
  • Reduction in grooming
  • Reduced appetite
  • Being very vocal when you return home
  • Depression
  • Clinginess
  • Diarrhea
  • Fear of loud noises and other disturbances more than usual
  • Hiding
  • Excessive scratching at furniture 
  • Vomiting in severe cases

According to a study from 2019, breeds known for their need for regular human companionship include the Korat, Devon Rex, Oriental breeds (Balinese, Oriental Longhair, Oriental Shorthair, Siamese, Abyssinian, Russian Blue, Maine Coon, and a few more. 

Other cats may happily snooze away an entire day while you’re at work, maybe waking up occasionally for something to eat or finding a new spot for their next cat nap. But of course, every individual cat is different.

British Shorthair, Birman, European Shorthair, Persian, Ragdoll, and Norwegian Forest cats are the least likely to seek human contact and may be happy to spend up to 8 hours a day on their own. Still, you should never leave your cat longer than 12 hours without arranging for a friend or pet sitter to check on them.

We’ve estimated how long it’s safe to leave your cat alone, depending on their age.

Cat’s age Time they can be left alone
Kittens under 4 months Ideally closer to 2 hours if very young
Kittens aged 4-5 months 5 hours
Kittens aged 6-12 months 6–8 hours
Healthy adult cats 12 hours

How Long Can You Leave Kittens Home Alone?

Cat looking out the window
Image Credit: Natali9701, Shutterstock

Kittens need more care and attention than adult cats. They’re also adept at getting themselves into trouble! Kittens under 4 months old shouldn’t be left home alone for longer than 4 hours.

By the time they’re 6 months old, you should be able to leave them alone for up to 6 hours. But this will depend on your kitten’s breed, individual needs and personality.

Even then, it’s important to set them up in a kitten-safe room, free of any potential hazards and harmful products or foods, where they can’t get into trouble by climbing curtains, getting trapped in cupboards, or generally investigating something that they shouldn’t.

Using a pet camera to monitor your kittens while you are away is a great way to get peace of mind when you do have to leave them alone for a few hours. Make sure they have fresh food and water, and a clean litter box.

If you can, it’s a good idea to arrange for a pet sitter or neighbor that the kitten is familiar with, to call in and check on your kittens while you’re out.

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Can I Leave My Cat Alone Overnight?

Most vets say that it’s safe to leave your cat alone for 12 to 24 hours, but Cats Protection recommends this to be up to 12 hours. You may or may not feel comfortable leaving your cat alone for that length of time, and this is hugely dependent on the cat’s age, personality and health. However, for anything longer than 12 hours, you should arrange a cat sitter or a friend, or consider a cattery.

If your cat needs regular medication or will only eat wet food that you don’t want to and shouldn’t leave out in case it spoils, then leaving them overnight may be too long.

For other cats, as long as they have enough food, water, and clean litter trays, they may not mind too much, as long as this isn’t a regular occurrence.

If you do decide to leave your cat at home alone for the night, it’s a good idea to invest in a pet camera so you can check in on them virtually. You might also want to ask a neighbor or pet sitter to drop in. Leaving information about your vet and their phone number is a good idea too, in case of emergencies.

If your cat is usually allowed outdoors, it’s best to keep them indoors while you’re away, as long as they don’t find this too stressful. This will minimize the chances of them getting into trouble outdoors while you’re gone.

Striped grey cat curled up in bed
Image Credit by: João Jesus, Pexels

Can You Leave a Cat Alone for a Weekend?

No! This takes you over the threshold of 24 hours, which is the maximum amount of time to leave your cat alone as recommended by most professionals.

So, leaving your cat alone for a weekend will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis and is generally something you should avoid. Finding a cat sitter or friend to jump in and check them once or twice daily is a simple enough solution that will ensure your cat is safe.

Any automatic food dispensers probably won’t hold enough food for an entire weekend or may malfunction, meaning your cat will be without food.

Cats are creatures of habit and love the security of a routine. They may be quite used to you being gone all day but start to become stressed and anxious if you (or someone else, like a pet sitter) don’t return when they expect you to.

If there’s a sudden change in weather while you’re away, your cat may become too hot or too cold, which can have serious health consequences.

You might also find that you will be worrying if your cat is okay while you’re gone. Whether you’re away for work or pleasure, you might be distracted and thinking about what could go wrong while you’re away.

Can I Leave My Cat Alone for 4 Days?

Absolutely not! We strongly recommend against it. Even if you have an automatic food dispenser, plenty of water, and tons of litter trays, 4 days is way too long to leave your cat alone.

They may run out of food, start going to the bathroom outside of their litter tray because it’s dirty or become ill from the stress of being left alone. They may get exposed to harmful substances or foods left in the house or get injured from jumping up or down from the furniture. They may also get trapped in unusual places or get too hot or cold, all of which can seriously compromise their health.

red tabby cat sitting alone
Image By: mediarney, Pixabay

Leaving a Cat Alone for 10 Days

No. This is not safe and may be classed as neglect. The risk of something going wrong is just very high, and your cat deserves proper care and dedication. There are adequate catteries and pet sitters that can ensure your cat is safe and healthy while you’re away. Ten days is too long for any cat to be left alone. Even the most laidback of cats will start to become unsettled if they’re left alone for this long.

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How to Make Your Cat’s Time Home Alone Safer and More Enjoyable?

Making sure your cat has plenty of fresh food, water, and enrichment activities while you’re away from home will make their time alone as comfortable and safe as possible.

Food & Water

Consider using an automatic feeder to dispense small amounts of food at predetermined intervals. Also, make sure there are a few different water bowls around the house. That way, if your cat accidentally knocks one over, they still have something to drink.

Entertainment & Engagement

You can also set up a birdwatching station, scratching posts, and other activities for your cat to enjoy while you’re gone. Keeping a selection of toys that you know that your cat loves in a drawer, and only leaving them out when you’re away from home can also help keep your cat entertained. Just make sure these toys are safe and that your cat cannot ingest any parts of them, especially when it comes to toys with a string.

Puzzle feeders are another great way to provide enrichment while you’re gone, especially if you leave them in places that your cat won’t discover until after you’re gone.


If you have a kitten, getting two from the same or different litter may sound like a great idea. It may help some cats cope better with being alone, as they have company and a friend to play with. However, a lot of the time, cats prefer a solitary life, rather than being in a multicat household, especially if they are already grown.

Surveillance & Interaction

You can also get pet cameras that allow you to see what your cat is up to while you’re away from home. Some of these will even allow you to talk to your cat through the built-in microphone, dispense treats, or notify you of any abnormal behavior.

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Options for Your Cat When You’re Away From Home

From short work trips to a full vacation, there are plenty of ways you can keep your cat safe and happy when you have to go away.

  • It makes sense to plan ahead, so if you need to go away for longer than 24 hours, arrange for your cat to be cared for in the meantime.
  • Cat sitters will either visit your home for a specified time each day or stay in your home and look after your cat when you’re gone. They can administer medication, refresh food and water bowls, and clean out litter trays, but also socialize with your cat if they like human contact.
  • You may find a neighbor who’s willing to pop in once a day for free, but if you’re regularly heading away, then it makes sense to arrange a formal agreement with a cat sitter.
  • Catteries are boarding facilities that you can take your cat to and leave them there when you need to be away from home. Some cats find catteries stressful, as they’re not in their home territory and have to spend time near other cats. You are the best judge of your cat’s character and whether a cattery will suit them.
  • Another option is to take your cat with you! Some cats love the excitement and interest that comes with a road trip, while others will find the situation too unsettling.

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Wrapping It Up

Cats might act all aloof and independent, but we all know that they love their owners! Cats crave our companionship and shouldn’t be left alone for more than 12-24 hours at a time, in the case of adults. This is much less if you have a kitten.

There’s no one right or wrong answer for how long it’s safe to leave your cat under 24 hours. The answer will depend on their age, health, and personality. You’ll have to make a judgment call for your own scenario.

Whatever you decide, make sure they have food, water, clean litter boxes, a safe place to sleep, and entertainment. Pet cameras are a great way to keep an eye on your cat while you’re gone, and using a pet sitter can help add another layer of reassurance.

Whatever you decide, you can be sure your cat will be happy to see you when you get home, even if they don’t show it!

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Featured Image Credit: Paul Hanaoka, Unsplash

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