How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone? | Maximum Number of Days

Knowing how long can you leave a cat alone is essential when leaving the house for any length of time. Actually, can you leave your cat alone? When is it not okay to leave your cat alone?

If you find yourself asking yourself these questions but struggling to find answers, you’re in luck. I’ve covered these questions and more below in this guide.

Following the advice and taking note of the risks listed below will hopefully give you peace of mind when separating from your furball. Consider our guide to looking after a kitten if you are new to parenting.


You are not a bad pet parent if you’ve been wondering how long can cats be left alone due to circumstances like needing to go to work. Many pet parents have done so for decades. However, it’s not as simple an answer for new pet parents who are still anxious about their furry friends.  

If you have just adopted a cat or it’s first month as a cat owner, it may not be a suitable time to leave your cat alone for longer than a few hours. An adopted cat will need time to adjust to its new home and family. It is essential not to leave the new cat and any resident cats alone until they are fully acquainted during this period.  


Recently fell in love with your feline friend? As a first-time owner, you must spend time getting to know your cat and encouraging good behavior. A new cat should stay inside for the first week to ensure it does not return to its previous home. If your cat becomes lost, keep up hope. Your best bet is to contact the previous owners to ask them to keep an eye out for her.

While I am not one to spread fear, there are some risks associated with leaving your cat alone at home that need to be considered. You’ll find most of the issues below are common knowledge. However, we feel it is essential to discuss the possible problems.  

If you are simply heading out of the house for a few hours in the day, it is unlikely that the following risks will arise. Let’s dive into them below.

Besides other separation-related problems, separation anxiety can arise in pets like cats. While separation-related problems are not widely spoken about, a study published in 2020 found 13% of animals sampled in the survey showed one negative behavioral trait when left alone.  

how long can you leave a cat alone

The most common was destructive behavior, followed by excessive vocalization and frequent urination outside the litter box. While it is not uncommon to experience these traits on occasion with any feline, it can cause an owner unnecessary stress and concern when it occurs often. Other behaviors that raise concern are plant chewing and attempts to escape from home.  

A misbehaving cat puts pressure on the human-cat relationship and is less likely to experience a healthy bond with its owner and family. As you may have experienced with your feline, they are more active and playful in your presence and tend to rest when left alone. We provide security and stability to our cats’ lives by playing regularly and being present.

When left alone, some cats resort to tearing up the upholstery on your favorite couch or scratching the legs of your dining room table. While these are not fatal occurrences, the behavior should be addressed and not encouraged.

toyger cat with spilt plant

So how can you avoid coming home to a mess? Leaving your feline with toys suitable for solo play is a good start. A scratch post can also be the perfect outlet for your cat’s feelings of frustration.

Leaving your cat’s food and water out for prolonged periods is dangerous. When feeding your cat wet food, it should not be left out for more than four hours at room temperature. The food will dry and become a breeding ground for possibly harmful bacteria. Although dry food is safer with bacteria, kibble left out for long periods can become unpalatable.

Cats should always have fresh and clean water, even if they can survive for three or more days without it. Leaving your cat’s water stagnant for over three days can also lead to bacterial growth that may harm your kitty’s health. It is not uncommon for cats to drink from puddles in the garden as they are sensitive to the chlorine present in tap water.

cat stares at small bowl with dry food

Injury can occur while you are out, and this is something you will want to prevent by cat-proofing your home. Securing lamps is also important as a cat playing with the electric chord could lead it to fall upon them. You’ll also want to keep plants away from cats in case they’re poisonous.

Leaving your cat for prolonged periods can result in bad behavior developing. A litter box left for too long becomes unappealing, often leading to your feline urinating in other ‘less-ideal’ areas of the house. While an angry cat peeing all over the house is not a train smash, a mischievous kitty can be a handful if it no longer uses the litter box.  

In addition, the emotional impact of separation may lead your cat to develop antisocial behavior. An anxious cat is more likely to react to touch with an outburst of scratching and biting. If this occurs, read our guide on training cats not to bite.

tabby siberian with mouth open

No, it is not recommended to leave your cat alone for three days, no matter how independent it may be. An independent cat may entertain itself and even hunt for food. So, how many days can you leave a cat alone? A maximum of 24 to 48 hours is recommended.

The emotional distress of your absence may lead your cat to display symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite.

Leaving your cat alone for five days is not a good idea without arranging for someone to provide fresh food and clean water. While a cat living in a house with a garden will appear independent, it is important to avoid illness from the bacteria that develop in old water or food.

tabby cat with mouth open and drool

Leaving your cat alone for seven days is asking for trouble. While you may consider your feline friend an angel, some circumstances can create serious issues. While a scratch or two on your furniture is repairable, the chances of stale food and water causing health issues are not worth the risk.  

Have a friend, family member, or pet sitter look after your cat daily if you plan to go away for a week.

Well, let us just start by stating kittens can be a handful. A kitten requires more attention than adult cats, meaning you won’t want to leave its side (stating the obvious). When left alone, your kitten is prone to getting up to mischief. We discuss how long is a safe estimate for different aged kittens below.

tabby kitten with mouth open

Ideally, no. When kittens are less than two months old, they are still in need of the comfort of their mother. While this affords you some freedom to leave for up to four hours, leaving the litter unattended for a full day is not advisable.

There is much to explore and a hungry appetite to contend with as a newly adopted kitten. We recommend you not leave your three-month-old kitten alone for more than four hours.  

Can I leave my kitten alone overnight? No, a young kitten of three months old will require attention. Consider having a friend stay over or check in on the kitten during the night. A bonus is to find someone willing to stay and play with your kitten!

Cat rolls around in the sun why do cats roll in the dirt

Luckily, kittens at this age can survive a workday without their humans. However, we wouldn’t recommend leaving a 6-month-old kitten alone for more than 12 hours. Do you have other pets alone at home too? If your cat has a companion, they will likely keep each other entertained.

Growing in leaps, bounds, and confidence, your nine-month-old kitten will likely be okay alone. However, we recommend starting with short periods apart and slowly growing towards your goal of 12 or 24 hours of separation.

Small gray kitten in plastic litter cat on floor

Now that you know the answer to “how long can I leave my cat alone?”, here are some tips to avoid cat injuries or property damage

  • Thoroughly clean your cat’s food and water bowls before filling them up with enough for two days.
  • Clean and freshly prepare your cat’s litter box (Just trust in the process, you and your cat will be happier if you do).
  • Tie up or remove any hanging chords. Cats like string, and these chords can be seen as play toys which can then be damaged or lead to cat strangulation.
  • Cover any electrical cables. While most cables have a coating thick enough to deter a cat from chewing, the appliance connected to it may fall and cause injury.
  • Keep countertops and surfaces clear. It is not uncommon for cats to knock items off of counters, well, just for fun.
  • Keep plants out of reach (remember, there is no countertop high enough), and ensure the plants and flowers in your house are not poisonous to cats.
  • Create a dedicated space in your house for your kitten (while leaving the rest of the house to be explored), and provide it with a scratch post or toys suitable for solo play.
  • Keep your toilet seat down to prevent your kitten from exploring this less than ideal area.
  • Ensure your bathroom and basin do not have cosmetics or essential oils in the open.
sokoke cat on scratching tower

If you are considering leaving the house for a long period of time, we recommend you find a companion for your pet. So when should you consider hiring a professional pet sitter? We cover three interesting scenarios below.

While the fuzzy feeling of finding your loved one is still warm, it is a difficult thought to consider leaving for a day or two, let alone a week. Our newly formed bond with an adorable furball finds a way into our hearts. In this instance, although you might not want to leave, if you have to, a cat sitter will be required.

woman with ginger cat touching nose

The last thing you want for your loved ones is to leave them in a worse state. If your cat shows signs of behavioral issues such as urinating in anger or continued vocalizing, a trained pet sitter could be of huge importance. While a family friend could step in with one of the friendly cat breeds, it takes a professional to know how to approach a grumpy cat.

It’s an easy choice to hire someone if your cat is a handful.


If your cat has recently been ill and you intend to leave it alone for two days, we recommend checking in with your veterinarian first. If your cat is less than a year old, or newly adopted, and has recently been ill, you should not leave it alone for more than 12 hours, let alone two days.

bengal cat at vet with ice pack

Having a friend with feline experience can help ease your worries, as you won’t have to worry about how long can a cat be left alone if someone’s around to care for them. It’s even better if the friend has previously spent time with your cat, as they’ll already be familiar with each other.

So, when can you hire a friend to pet sit your furry friend? I discuss when it’s suitable to ask a friend to cat-sit depending on your living situation.

If you plan to go away for two days, consider hiring a friend to check in on your cat or stay at your apartment. An adult cat who has a comfortable routine will not be a problematic pet for even the most inexperienced sitters.  

In addition to the above things you need to do before you go, it is important to consider the weather. Will it be hot while you are away? Ensure that your cat will have airflow and a pleasant temperature in the apartment.

are ragdoll cats hypoallergenic

A garden of any size provides endless entertainment and can help tremendously with your cat’s mood. From watching butterflies to stalking birds, a cat is less likely to know you even left. We recommend hiring a friend to check in on your cat or stay during the period you are away.

While a cat with access to a garden may appear more independent, providing clean water and food for your feline is still necessary.

Be sure to leave your cat sitter a cat plan or instructions that cover everything from your cat’s preferences, normal times for feeding, any needs specific to your cat and all vet and emergency contact details.

grey siberian cat in the garden

With everything planned for a relaxing weekend away, I hope you found the answer to “how many days can I leave my cat alone” and can now ease your worries. We hope you feel more confident leaving your pet alone at home by following our recommendations and considering the points above.

If you still feel unsure, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian regarding your cat and its specific living situation. If you have had success with the tips above, share your experience in the comments below.



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Amanda created and owns The Discerning Cat. A lifelong cat lover she is the proud parent of two Siberian cats, Alexei and Vladimir. She is passionate about understanding cats and different cat breeds.

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