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Cats are fairly independent and may even act like they don’t need their human family around all the time. But most pet parents know their cat does in fact love their company. Sometimes we need to leave our cats home alone to go to work or take a vacation. As a concerned pet parent, you’re probably asking yourself: how long can you leave your cat alone?

How long can cats safely be left alone?

Most adult cats are fine being left home alone for up to 24 hours, under the right conditions (more on that below). If you need to leave for two or three days, a full week, or longer, you should make sure someone is coming over to care for your cat daily. If you leave your cat alone for too long it can cause boredom, stress, separation anxiety, and unwanted behavior (like excessive meowing and eliminating outside the litter box) – not to mention the risk of accidents or illness. The longest you should leave an indoor cat alone is 24 hours (keeping in mind this is the maximum, and should be adjusted based on your cat’s unique personality and needs).

How long can you leave multiple cats alone?

Two or more cats home alone in each other’s company probably won’t feel as lonely as a single cat, but that doesn’t mean they can be safely left alone for longer periods of time. Any number of cats should only be left alone for a maximum of 24 hours.

How long can you leave a kitten alone?

Kittens need more care than adult cats, and shouldn’t be left alone for longer than 4 hours. This is especially true for kittens under four months old, who need the most attention and more frequent feeding. Kittens under six months old have an especially strong need to bond with their human, so leaving them alone for too long can result in stress, loneliness, and ultimately behavioral issues. Kittens aged six months and older can be left alone for up to 8 hours, which means you’re probably fine leaving them alone while you’re at work.  And the same guidelines apply to multiple kittens – a 4-hour time limit for kittens under six months old, and an 8-hour time limit for kittens over six months.

How long can you leave an elderly cat alone?

Senior cats can be more affected by changes to their routine, so be aware of the potential for anxiety and monitor their behavior for signs of stress when you return. If your older cat has a special feeding schedule or requires medication at specific times, they’ll need regular check-ins.

While adult cats can be left alone for up to 24 hours, a more reasonable limit for senior cats may be closer to 12 hours, depending on their needs and what they’re used to. You can always ask your vet how long they think your older cat can safely stay home by themselves.

orange cat with freeze-dried dinner morsels

What does your cat need when left alone?

No matter how long you will be away, your cat will need the following when home alone:


Leave out dry food for your cat, especially if your cat tends to eat small amounts throughout the day. If you’re worried about your cat overeating, you can consider an automated feeder that works with an app to dispense food at scheduled times. If your cat eats frozen raw cat food, freeze-dried raw, or wet food, feed when you’re home or when the pet sitter stops by.

Cat Food Safety Tips 

Use these guidelines to help you schedule pet sitting visits that work with your cat’s normal feeding times:

Check out our pet sitter checklist for even more helpful tips to help them manage your cat’s feeding routine while you’re away!


Be sure your cat has plenty of water. Consider putting out extra bowls of water and/or using a water dispenser if your cat will be alone overnight. 

If you’ll be gone for multiple days, be sure to tell your pet sitter to clean and dry the cat’s food and water dishes once a day (or leave a supply of clean dishes for them to use).


Clean the litter box before you leave and consider putting out a second litter box if you have multiple cats and will be away for a while. Litter boxes should be cleaned about once a day to prevent your cat from avoiding it (and possibly expressing their displeasure on your belongings).


Put any toxic household items, plants or other things your cat may chew on (like cables or plastic bags) and breakable items in a closed room where a potentially bored or anxious cat won’t be able to get to them.

Some cat toys, like balls, paper bags without handles, cardboard rolls from t.p. or paper towels, plush animals and catnip-stuffed toys are generally safe to leave out for your cat to enjoy while you’re away. Other cat toys can pose a danger if you’re not there to supervise, so be sure to secure the following before leaving your cat alone:

Make sure human food is also out of reach before leaving your cat alone, since some human foods are toxic to cats.


Make sure your thermostat is set to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature for your cat. Smart thermostats make it even easier by letting you check and control your settings remotely.

It may be tempting to close all your shades for energy savings or privacy while you’re away, but consider leaving one or two open so your cat can nap in a sunny spot and enjoy looking out the window.


There are a lot of different video monitoring systems that let you check in on your cat from a smartphone. This is a great way to give yourself peace of mind when traveling, or provide a quick mood boost during the workday! Some cameras even have two-way audio so you and your cat can hear each other’s voices.

If you know your cat enjoys (or is accustomed to) having the TV or music playing, you can let a show or music stream on low volume while you’re gone.

Clothing Items with your Scent

Leave out an item of clothing you’ve worn recently for your cat to cuddle with while you’re away. It’s common for cats to be attracted to their human’s scent, so snuggling with your favorite sweatshirt can help them feel more secure and comforted while you’re away. If you just did laundry, a pillowcase or pajamas work too! 

Remember that cats are individuals, so don’t worry if your cat doesn’t seem interested in your clothing. Just provide plenty of comfortable places for your cat to cozy up such as a cat bed, blanket or cushion.

two bengal cats with wet cat food

Prepare your cat for your absence

If you or other family members will be leaving home more often for longer periods of time, whether going back to the office or starting school or a new job, prepare your cat for the change.


Get up at your anticipated new time and go through the motions, including anything you do that would affect your cat, such as filling their water bowl or cleaning the litter box. This will help your cat adjust to new patterns of activity in the house. 


If you feed your cat at certain times, you may need to change the times to work with your new schedule. Ease into the new feeding times so your cat has time to adjust. 


Although cats certainly do take a lot of naps during the day, they also spend time being alert and active. Make sure they have access to a few windows and leave some cat enrichment activities or toys out for them to chase around.

white cat with fish cat kibble

Do Cats Get Lonely When You Leave?

Your cat can absolutely feel lonely when you leave. Cats are social animals, and it’s important for their mental and physical health to have regular companionship and interactions with their human. Feeling lonely and craving your attention is one of the reasons why your cat follows you around. Your adult cat is probably used to spending time alone while you’re at work, but extended time alone can lead to severe loneliness, depression and anxiety.

Should I Try Cat Boarding?

It’s okay to leave your cat home alone for up to a day, whether you have to go to work or go out and run errands. With a little bit of prep, your cat will be just fine at home in your absence. However, if you need to be away for more than a day, it’s best to have a friend or pet sitter check in and help care for your cat until you return. This is ideal because your cat gets to stay where they’re most comfortable. If you can’t arrange for someone to look after your cat at home, professional pet boarding is the next best option. You can ask a friend or your cat’s veterinarian for a recommendation. If boarding your cat, you should bring along their favorite bed, blanket, and/or toys to help them feel more comfortable. 

You should also supply enough of your cat’s regular food for their stay. Stella & Chewy’s canned wet cat food comes in two sizes for easy portioning. Our raw coated and raw blend dry cat foods provide the benefits of freeze-dried raw protein with the convenience of kibble. Explore recipes below, or learn more about the benefits of a raw diet for cats.

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