Will My Cat be OK at Home Alone While I'm at Work?
It's natural to be concerned when it's time to leave your cat home alone while you're at work. Whether you're going back to work after a pandemic lockdown or you're leaving your new kitten home alone for the first time, it's understandable to be a little worried. But rest assured, with a little preparation, your cat will be fine while you're gone. Here's what you can do to make sure your cat feels comfortable and safe while you're not at home.
Stress Can Happen Even if Your Cat Used to Be Okay
Even if your cat used to be just fine when you left for work, that might change after you've been home for some time. If you worked from home for many months during the pandemic and now you're returning to the office, don't expect your cat to adjust to the change quickly. He might feel a little cautious about you leaving at first. So, if your formerly independent and confident kitty is a little clingy, it's completely normal.
If you can, help your cat adjust before you go back to the office. Slowly get your cat accustomed to being separated from you for longer and longer periods. Start by simply hanging out in the backyard for a few minutes. Next, leave for 30 minutes. Then try being gone for an hour. If you have a camera in your home, you can watch your cat while you're gone to see how he handles your absence.
Make Leaving a Fun Activity
Help your cat by making your departure a fun activity. Give your cat a scavenger hunt when you're heading out the door. Hide some treats around the house that your cat will have to hunt to find when you leave. It can help distract her from the initial discomfort she might feel when you walk out the door.
Don't forget to leave your cat plenty of water, food, and clean litter boxes. Try a water bowl with a large reservoir so your cat won't run out.
Help Keep Your Cat Entertained While You're Gone
Of course, the fun doesn't have to end with the treat scavenger hunt. You can try other tactics to keep your cat entertained while you're gone.1 Invest in an automated feeder that dispenses a treat several times a day. Some even let you use an app to access the feeder online and dispense a treat whenever you want.
Other pet owners might enjoy talking to their cats through home camera systems. Test this one first when you're home. Some cats become upset when they hear their owner's voice and can't find them.
Make sure the windows are easy to access and attach window-mounted perches to them. They can range from an elaborate EZ Mount Penthouse to a simpler EZ Window Mount. Set them up on several different windows, so your cat has different options to choose from. You can also leave a TV on and set to an animal-focused channel. Or, leave a device playing soft music that your cat enjoys. Just make sure the volume's low, so your cat isn't startled.
Set up some comfy cat beds around the house for when your kitty needs to sleep, and make sure at least one is near a window where a sunbeam will fall during the day. Don't forget to leave interactive toys to keep his mind engaged.
Kitten-Proof Your Home
Kittens between two and four months of age should only be left alone four to six hours at a time, not a full workday.2 When they're a little older, around six months, you can be gone all day. But they'll certainly be happier if you can check in on them at lunchtime or ask a friend to stop by.
When you're gone, make sure your house is kitten-proofed. Younger kittens might do better when confined to a small, safe room with lots of toys, water, food, and litter. Kittens love little crinkle toys, catnip-filled toys, and mouse toys. They can stay entertained endlessly with simple toys like these.
Kitten-proofing your home involves securing anything breakable, covering electrical cords and any small holes a kitten could disappear into, and removing house plants or anything your kitten might chew on or swallow that could harm her.
If you have a dog or an adult cat, you want to make sure your pets are safe together before you leave them alone. You may need to keep them in separate rooms at first. Although this is especially important with kittens, it's a good rule of thumb when you have more than one pet.
Use Comfort Zone Products
You can help ease your cat's discomfort about your absence with Comfort Zone calming products that mimic your cat's natural pheromones. Because your cat's e-meow-tional health is just as important as his physical health, these products focus on helping cats feel safe, happy, and calm using signals they understand.
Plug a Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser in the room where he spends the most time. Or use the Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser if you have more than one cat. If your cat has a lot of indoor space to explore or if he's an indoor-outdoor cat on the go, the Comfort Zone Calming Collar is a great option. Comfort Zone products help cats manage normal stress, aiding your kitty in maintaining an emotional balance that's important when you're gone.
Keep a Routine
Leaving for work can disrupt your cat's life, but maintaining other routines can give your cat a sense of normalcy.3 This might include scooping her litter box on her regular schedule or setting up an automated cat feeder, so she's still fed at her usual times. Embrace a bonding activity that you always do when you first come home, whether it's playing with a feather wand or putting her on a harness and walking outside together. Your cat will look forward to your daily "coming home" tradition.
You can do many things to make sure your cat or kitten feels safe and happy while you're at work. If you feel a little nervous about going back to work after the pandemic, be assured that your cat will be just fine as long as you prepare her and leave lots for her to do while you're gone.
1. Xu, Elizabeth. "Do Cats Like to Be Alone?" PetMD, 27 December 2016, https://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/leaving-your-cat-alone-9-things-you-need-know.
2. Geier, Elisabeth. "How Long Can You Leave a Kitten Alone?" Rover.com, https://www.rover.com/blog/how-long-can-you-leave-a-kitten-alone/.