Those who want a pet but don't have time for a dog often turn to cats. Unfortunately, not all cats turn out to be as affectionate as their owners were hoping. Interested in people, but typically less demanding than other super-affectionate breeds, Birmans appear to be the perfect compromise between needy dogs and aloof cats.
Some cat lovers, on the other hand, worry if such a sweet breed of cat can be left alone while you are at work.
Can Birman Cats Be Left Alone? Like all cats, Birmans are able to fend for themselves, but this doesn't mean they'll be happy. No cat should be left alone indefinitely, but the Birman has a particularly low tolerance for solitude.
Although this breed is hard to resist, with their beautiful coat and sweet personality, it is important to consider whether they’ll be the right fit for your lifestyle. Most Birman cats will tolerate being left at home while you're at work, but you may find that the longer they're alone, the more unhappy they are.
Fortunately, there are some ways Birman cat owners can do keep them happy while they're out and about.
How Long Can Birman Cats Be Left Home Alone?
Cat experts generally recommend that you avoid leaving your cat alone for more than 24 hours without someone checking in. This is mostly a precaution in case of injuries, spilled water, or other unpredictable circumstances and may not be applicable to everyone.
If you feel confident in your set up as well as your cat’s overall health, he can be okay if left alone for a whole weekend. The typical Birman, on the other hand, may not tolerate the same length of time alone quite as well.
While the origin of the Birman cat is not completely clear, some legends suggest that they began as a companion to temple priests in Burma. With his history in mind, it’s no surprise that Birman cats are particularly reliant upon human interaction.
They have even been known to show signs of separation anxiety and depression when left alone too often.
Both depression and separation anxiety can sadly lead to cats acting out and often being rehomed for “behavior issues”.
Some of these behaviors include more destructive scratching or general listlessness. Birman owners may also see an elevated level of neediness upon arriving home, including increased nocturnal activity, and litter box issues.
Most importantly, the bond between cat and human which attracts so many to the breed can be damaged by a lack of interaction.
If you are interested in adding a Birman cat to your family but are afraid that you may be away too long, you should consider a more independent cat or take extra steps to ensure that he’s not lonely.
If you do your research and are willing to prepare accordingly, both you and your cat can be happy.
If you have a multi-pet household, hiring a pet sitter, or creating brain teasers to entertain your Birman sound over the top to you, you are probably not the best fit for these incredible cats.
How To Help Keep Your Cat From Getting Lonely While You’re Away
Due to the Birman’s notoriously affectionate and loving nature, they may not cope as well on their own as most other cats. Luckily for Birman lovers, there are some steps you can take to make your cat’s days less lonely.
If you won’t be home with your cat very often, you should at least have another pet to keep them company. A kitty roommate would be ideal, but a cat-friendly dog would help your Birman cope with your absence.
Make sure you take the time to properly introduce your two pets when the time comes.
If possible, arrange visits with friends or family during the day. These cats are friendly with everyone but may take a few visits to warm up to new friends.
If you can’t find a volunteer in your social circle, you can also use apps like Rover to easily schedule visits with your cat when needed.
Your Birman may also find some comfort in things that represent you. Something as simple as a clean laundry pile or a pet bed cover stuffed with things that smell like you can help your cat feel more secure.
Relaxing music is another good way to calm your cat. As ridiculous as it may sound, some cats have preferences for certain shows or musical genres, like classical.
Keeping your Birman busy while you’re gone can be as simple as providing them with interactive toys. Not all cats will be playful while you are away, but it’s best to leave the toys out as an option.
Your cat, especially once out of the kitten phase, is more likely to enjoy looking out the window than playing with toys, so it’s important that he has a good place to sit and watch the world go by. Make sure he has access to a nice ledge next to a window.
If not, you can get a cat tower or hammock and position it in view of the window.
Can I Leave My Cat Alone Longer Once He's Older?
Every cat is different, but you can use age as a general guideline for how much time you need to spend with your Birman.
- Kittens- From the time you bring your Birman kitten home (usually 8-12 weeks) through about 6 months old, he will typically want to play almost as much as his companions will tolerate. Playtime is a critical part of your cat’s development, so it's important to spend as much time as possible with your Birman during this time.
- Adolescents– Most cats begin to calm down at approximately 7 months of age. This is also the life stage that your Birman will start gaining confidence when it comes to meeting other animals and getting into mischief! You may want to reconsider what you deem “safe” to leave your cat alone while you are away once he hits this phase.
- Adults – In adulthood, most cats become more independent and calm, but also do not have the health concerns that often come with old age. Cats are best equipped to be alone at this stage.
- Seniors – Cats are generally considered “seniors” once they reach 11 years. During this time, cats are typically still independent but may lose interest in their usual activities. While some decline is expected, don't assume that aloof behavior is just age! Make sure your senior cat is healthy with regular health checkups.
Remember that no two cats are the same. One 11-year-old cat could be extremely mellow, while another acts like a kitten. You should always consult your veterinarian with health and behavior questions and use your best judgment!
How Can I Prepare My House Before Leaving My Cat Alone?
If you’re planning on being away from home longer than usual, here are a few ways to prepare.
- Extra Litter Boxes- One of the most stressful things you can subject your cat to is allowing their litter box to get soiled. You can invest in self-cleaning boxes, but the simplest way to avoid a dirty litter box is to add more boxes into the rotation.
- Access to Water- Another basic requirement is fresh water. You can guarantee that your cat always has a fresh supply with an automatic dispensing bowl, whether it’s a fancy electronic fountain or a simple gravity-fed bowl.
- Check for Potential Dangers- Birman cats are notorious for getting themselves into shenanigans, like getting into open crawl spaces during construction or getting stuck in unattended containers or cupboards. That being said, you need to think like your cat before leaving and secure any item that could pose a danger to a curious cat.
- Prop Doors Open- No matter how many fancy supplies you’ve provided your cat, it won’t help if they accidentally close themselves in a different room.
- Webcam- You can easily get a web-enabled camera for less than $50 and check on your cat from any place with an internet connection.
Provided that your Birman has company and an appropriate place to spend their time, they should handle limited separation fairly well. Just be sure to watch for any changes in behavior that could signal displeasure and make any changes as needed.
How many years do Birman cats live? Birmans are a very healthy and hardy breed overall. They typically live about 15 years, which is considered average for all cats but have been known to make it into the twenties.
How much does a Birman cat cost? Of course, show-quality cats will be more expensive, but a typical Birman kitten sells for $700 to $1,000 US dollars. You may also be able to find a reputable breed rescue where rehoming fees can easily be as low as $150.
Are Birman cats affectionate? The Birman breed is known for its affectionate nature, especially towards family members. Cat experts count this breed as one of the best companions and lap cats.
We had a closer look at a Birman´s “lap cat potential” – you can read all about that here! They are really awesome!