When you’re looking after a kitten, or several kittens, it can feel a little bit like looking after a baby or toddler: with the constant feeding, toilet mishaps, and of course their natural playfulness and frequent napping.
But you may also feel like you need to be at your kitten’s every beck and call, when it isn’t possible to never leave their side, as much as we’d like to.
Sometimes our work patterns don’t allow us to stay home all day every day (though more of us are working from home due to the current pandemic).
So with this in mind, today we’re going to be discussing a question that many new cat owners will find themselves asking:
Can kittens be left alone?
The good news is that cats aren’t quite as reliant on their owners as dogs are. They don’t require constant walks and attention, however, the notion that cats are independent and aloof is also not entirely true.
Cats still appreciate the presence of their owner, and not just to refill their food bowl!
Leaving Kittens On Their Own
Kittens can be left alone, but they shouldn’t be left on their own for too long. When they’re younger than four months, they shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours at a time.
Past four months, they may be able to tolerate an extra hour, and once they’re six months old, they should be able to get through an eight-hour day without you.
The most important thing is that your kitten has everything they need to survive alone; including food and water, but also stimulation such as scratching posts and toys.
Here are our tips for safely leaving your kitten alone…
Remove dangerous items
Cats are curious creatures, and kittens are no different. You should remove any dangerous items from the rooms your kitten will be in whilst you’re out of the house, for example, toxic cleaning products, string and hair elastics, or poisonous plants.
You’ll also want to move valuables out of the way, like any glass objects or fragile ornaments, as your kitten may get playful and knock these over, plus broken glass poses another risk to your kitten’s safety.
Ensure they have enough food and water
Make sure you leave out plenty of food and water so your kitten can eat and stay hydrated whilst you’re out of the house.
Depending on how long you’ll be gone, you can either leave out dry food as this will stay relatively fresh for most of the day or if your kitty prefers wet food, an automatic feeder is a great way to keep the food chilled and can be programmed to feed your kitten at certain times, which allows you to stick with their regular feeding routine.
It’s also a good idea to hide some treats for your little feline – as not only will they appreciate a tasty snack, but hiding the treats will encourage their curiosity and awaken their senses, and it’ll keep them stimulated for a little while, at least.
Make sure you refill your kitten’s water bowl with fresh water before you leave, and consider buying a water fountain for your pet so that they always have a supply of fresh, clean water on hand.
Leave a clean litter box
Always leave your kitten with a fresh litter tray or box, as without anyone there to scoop it out, it could get dirty pretty quickly, and the dirtier the litter tray, the less likely your cat is to use it, which means they’ll be more likely to go to the toilet elsewhere.
One way around this is to leave two clean litter trays out for your kitty, and ensure they’re familiar with the locations of both before leaving them.
Keep them occupied
Leave your kitten’s toys out for them, and consider treating them to a new high perch or scratching post that they can watch the outside world from.
It’s also a good idea to leave the radio or TV on for them, to give them the sense that they’re not alone.
Get them a companion
If you’re going to be regularly leaving your kitten alone or will be leaving it for long periods, you could consider getting them a feline companion to keep them company.
Alternatively, you could look for a cat sitter, or ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to check in on them and spend ten minutes playing with them.
Ensure they have a comfy place to rest
Before you leave, make sure your kitten has a cozy place to rest, with a warm blanket, or a hot water bottle or teddy bear they can snuggle up to.
How to Reduce Your Kitten’s Anxiety Before You Leave Them
Kittens and cats can get anxious and lonely when left alone, but there are a few things you can do to reduce your kitten’s anxiety before you leave the house…
- Don’t make a big deal of leaving them, simply act natural. It can also be a good idea to practice leaving and entering the house to get them used to this before gradually building up the amount of time you leave them alone for.
- If possible, a blanket or towel with their mother’s scent on will have a soothing and reassuring effect on your kitten.
- Play with your kitty for a while before leaving them – this will hopefully tire them out so that they’re more relaxed when you leave.
Kittens can be left alone, but when they’re very young you shouldn’t leave them alone for long periods, and leaving your feline friend alone should be a gradual process so that they can slowly get used to you leaving them and returning at the end of the day.
The main thing to consider before leaving your kitten is to ensure they have everything they need before you leave them: this includes plenty of food and water, toys to play with, a cozy place to sleep, and a fresh layer of litter for going to the toilet.
If you can, getting another kitten is a great way to feel reassured that your pet will always have company, or a cat sitter is also worth considering if you’ll be leaving your kitten for long periods.
It may take a while for your kitten to get used to being left alone, but it’ll get easier in time as long as they have everything they need to prevent them from getting anxious or lonely.