Do Cats Get Lonely If Left Home Alone All Day?

Cats can spend time alone if they're equipped to entertain themselves but need human interaction after a certain point. Find out when that is.

By Marilyn Krieger | Updated: October 12, 2014, 12 p.m. PDT

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People say, "The great thing about cats is that they have no concept of time. So its not like they're staring at the clock saying, 'Man, where is he?' Plus, cats sleep most of the day. How can I explain that to non-cat people?" 

There is a common misconception that it’s OK to leave a cat alone for hours every day without a human or other animal to interact with.

Pet cats need stimuli and interaction. It is not uncommon for cats to develop behavior challenges because they are left alone without companionship. Many of my cat-behavior cases exist because the cats have been left alone all day long without stimulation or another animal or person to interact with.

If you're gone for more than a day, arrange for a pet sitter come in and play with your cat during the day. Consider hiring a pet sitter to give your cat fresh food and water and clean the litterbox when spending a night away.

It's true that cats don’t look at clocks, nor do they wear watches. They do have their own internal clocks and their own cat-concept of time, however, so cats become accustomed to activities occurring at the same time on a consistent basis. It is one of the ways they measure time. Cats know your regular schedule: knows when you normally wake up, provide breakfast and dinner, clean the cat box, beditme, playtime, etc. Consistency is very important to a cat. Regular interaction with their human and animal companions is an important parts of cats’ worlds.

Depending on the cat and the circumstances, cats can become stressed when taken to different environments. Bringing a cat to overnighters might not be the best option if other animals will be there. Also, many cats do not adjust well to new situations. Cats do best going into different places when they are acclimated to changing environments as kittens.
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Do Cats Get Lonely If Left Home Alone All Day?

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Reader Comments

Jason    Overland Park, KS

8/17/2015 5:46:42 PM

My sister lived with our parents and I until about two weeks ago, and she took her cat with her when she moved out; being taken away from several humans and cats she liked and placed into an unfamiliar environment with no replacements sent her into severe depression. The cat quickly became lethargic, refusing to even eat or drink. She was taken to two vets, neither of which could tell anything was physically wrong. Today, my sister brought her cat over hoping she might show some sign of recovery...but unfortunately, the cat just passed away.
To say that cats "get lonely" is a severe understatement.

patrick    miami, FL

7/1/2015 3:06:21 PM

cats Are independent but leave food in the morning if you work
until midnight call your son who may come home at 1 tell your son to feed kitty lunch

Elizabeth    Fairfax, VA

6/14/2015 5:28:56 AM

For many years, I taught piano. I had a cat who had favorite students. She would run to the door to meet those she liked, and be absent from view for those she didn't. She particularly liked Mozart. One of my students was studying Mozart and the cat would gleefully meet her at the door, escort her to the piano studio, and settle herself underneath the piano, with paws folded inward, to enjoy the lesson. By the time the lesson was over, the cat was on her back, all paws outstretched in utter joy! One day, the lesson didn't go so well, and at the end of the lesson, there was the cat, still under the piano, still with paws folded inward. My student's comment: "I guess I didn't play Mozart so well today."

Rita    buffalo, NY

6/13/2015 9:09:44 PM

My cat suffers from idiopathic cyctitis.
She panics and stresses if I'm not home. She would get these attacks ever few days, sometimes they would last weeks. I was working 12 hr days and it got to the point where it was constant problem. It killed me to listen to her strain and cry. I finally decided I was going to get her a playmate. My vet said it might help but having anther cat might make it worse in the beginning. I decided to find her a cat friend at the local rescue. I didn't choose a car based on my needs but rather who she might like. I decided on a passive kitten, just so happened to be a Turkish van. They have wonderful playful personalities. As soon as I brought him home she stopped getting attackes. I've had the new cat, Bailey, for about .... 6 mnths now and my girl hasn't had a single attack.

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