Wednesday 3 December 2008

Cats left alone

cat at windowCats left alone for a short time is OK but we tend to think that leaving cats home alone for long periods is alright because the cat is an independent individual and not a pack animal. Dogs are pack animals and it seems we would rarely if ever consider leaving a dog alone for long periods.

Some of us have busy lives, increasingly more so. That makes keeping a cat less of an option. The best cat keepers are retired or semi-retired people as they are less likely to leave cats home alone and can care more thoroughly for them.

Cats left alone is not that uncommon and can lead, in extreme cases to the death or serious illness of the cat. Simply leaving out a big pile of dried cat food and a bucket of water isn't good enough as anything can happen and frequently does. For example, the water could be knocked over. Or, the water could be knocked over into the dried food making it inedible or it could then go off. Bacteria and mold could form in wet food if left out. A stray cat might come in and eat the food left out. There are endless possibilities if we are not there.

Also, some diseases can kill quickly. For example, Feline Urinary Obstruction can kill in three days (src: See Cat Health Problems for a large range of cat diseases. In short we need to be there to take charge when problems occur. And if we can't, we need to get someone in, either a professional or a reliable neighbor.

Cats left alone should be for no longer than 24-36 hours max. the experts say and common sense dictates that this must be the case. Christmas is coming up and that, as we all know, is a time when we are more liable to be tempted to leave cats home alone.

It is all about taking responsibility for our cats. Yes, it can be sort of a problem, sometimes, when we want the pleasure of keeping a cat but also retain some freedom. I love cats, but, I myself, have problems, sometimes, with the restriction in freedoms that keeping cats entails. But the bottom line is this. When we decide to keep a cat we should (I'd say must) ask whether we can commit to caring properly for the life of the cat. If the answer to that is in the negative, we should not go down that 15-20 year road.

It seems sometimes that we want it both ways, but a cat needs a fair bit of input if we are to discharge our responsibility towards her/him. If we adopt/keep a cat we should always ask whether we are discharging that responsibility and we need to look at things from the cat's perspective.

Cats left alone to Home Page

Photo: this cat was not necessarily alone. The picture is just to illustrate the article. Photo by AIBakker


  1. thanks for the info, but who would even consider leaving a cat alone for more then 24 hours?

    Even that is a stretch.

    If you have to, at least have a friend or relative check in on the cat.

  2. Hi, thanks for the comment. I agree, who would. But, there is a ton of irresponsibility out there. Leaving cats alone is one example. My next door neighbor knows her cat routinely crosses a busy London road (I told her). She also knows that on one occasion I stopped traffic in both directions to save the cat. She did nothing about it and insulted me for telling her. There are many other examples. Some people leave their children alone while they go on holiday!

  3. Leaving a ct alone for any length of time is so sad.Just as we need interaction,so do they.And there's all kinds of bad mischief they can get into if let too long.Bored and chewing on electrical cord.Attacking and killing the poor parakeet.Etc,etc...
    Thanks for the excellent article,and the opportunity to comment.


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