Cats are known for being low maintenance and are often considered the perfect pet for those with busy schedules. But perhaps those who wish to adopt a kitten need to think twice before getting an animal so young and leaving it alone for extended periods of time.
Can I leave my kitten alone for 8 hours? It depends on how old your kitten is. Kittens under 4 months of age can be left alone for up to 4 hours. A kitten 4 to 5 months old can be left alone for up to 5 hours. A 6-month-old kitten can be left alone for up to 8 hours. So if your kitten is less than 6 months old, do not leave it alone for 8 hours.
If you are set on adopting a kitten and know you’ll have to leave it alone from time to time then continue reading this article to learn some tips that will make you and your kitten’s life better.
The importance of the right age
Before you adopt a kitten, it is best to consider your home dynamic. You have to take into account if someone will be in your household at appropriate times throughout the day to give your kitten the care it needs.
For example, if you live alone and work for 8 hours a day, you should not adopt a kitten younger than 6 months old. But if you live in a household with 3 able individuals on different schedules, it is possible to adopt a 3-month-old kitten.
Any reputable breeder, pet shop or shelter will not let a kitten be adopted until it is at least 8 weeks old.
Although very young kittens are adorable, they need around the clock care from its mother or an experienced foster parent.
It is best to wait until 12 weeks before taking a kitten away from its mother and siblings to avoid health and socialization issues.
You also might want to read our article on leaving a kitten alone overnight as that is slightly different. Read it here!
The trouble with leaving a kitten alone for longer than recommended
Kittens need their humans more than you may think. It is important to remember that they are still new to the world and learning exactly how to be a cat. It is the job of a responsible pet owner to be there for their new furry friends.
If left alone for longer than recommended, your kitten could get into trouble.
Listed below are some top reasons why your kitten should be monitored for appropriate time spans.
Kittens develop rapidly from birth until around 6 months of age. Around the time most people adopt kittens (3-6 months of age), they sharpen crucial skills such as socialization and motor skills. They are also learning about the pecking order in the household.
If you are absent for long periods of time, you will impede your kitten's skill development.
Kittens are small and curious, which could lead to trouble. They are known for crawling into spaces that are too tight and climbing up to spots that they can’t get down. Kittens are do not know the risk of chewing wires or snacking on house plants.
If your kitten is monitored appropriately, disaster can be easily avoided.
Tips for leaving your kitten alone for extended periods of time
We can’t be with our kittens all the time. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure your cat will be perfectly fine and happy without your immediate supervision.
- Remove any hazards. Safety is paramount. Make sure your kitten doesn’t have access to anything hazardous. Electrical wires, sharp objects, plastic bags, plants, and household cleaners are some common concerns.
- Leave out food and water. Kittens need lots of food and water to fuel their developing bodies. Always make sure they have fresh food and clean water available. We highly recommend a water fountain for those situations – we explain why here!
- Leave a clean litter box. Cats are very particular about where they do their business. A clean litter box can prevent your cat from using other parts of the house as its bathroom.
- Keep a light on. This is especially important if kittens are adjusting to a new environment. Leaving on a light will help your kitten see its surroundings. You should also read this article: Are kittens afraid of the dark?
- Have plenty of entertainment available. Cats of all ages can succumb to boredom. You can prevent this by leaving exciting and challenging toys for your kitten to enjoy.
It is also important to note that with all the necessary steps taken, it can be beneficial to leave your kitten alone for short periods of time.
If you don’t give them space, it could negatively impact their social development.
Some kittens develop attachment issues which could lead to separation anxiety.
You don’t need to be a helicopter parent.
Remember that cats are intelligent and independent. A moderate amount of attention goes a long way.
Keeping the destruction to a minimum
Let’s face it, kittens are playful. Sometimes too playful. You may notice your kitten leaving behind a path of destruction if you are not home.
Often, they will be destructive when you are also home. This is normal kitten behavior since they have lots of energy.
If you want to minimize this behavior, you can try vigorous play sessions to help your kitten get rid of pent up energy. Also if your kitten is bored it will look for ways to entertain itself.
Supply your cat with challenging toys and most often it will fixate on that and not on tearing up your leather sofa.
No matter what cat breed you own, we recommend reading our articles below if destructive behavior is a problem:
- How to prevent destructive behavior (Maine Coon article)
- How to stop your cat from scratching furniture (Siamese cat article)
- Have a look at these 3 scratching posts (They are great for most cats)
Two is sometimes better than one
If you know you will be spending many hours of the day away from your kitten, it is best to consider adopting more than one.
It is especially beneficial for kittens to grow up in pairs because they will teach each other important skills that are not done as well by humans, such as stalking, pouncing, and grooming.
Additionally, if your kitten has a buddy, they will have less of a chance of becoming bored.
Despite popular belief, cats are not solitary animals. They enjoy the company of one another. Cat pairs are less likely to have anxiety, food pickiness, and grooming issues.
But perhaps the biggest benefit of all is having twice the amount of kitty love brightening up your home.
Can I leave a kitten alone overnight? It is okay to leave a kitten alone overnight as long as it is over four months old. A kitten younger than four months old needs to be supervised because they still rely on you to take care of them. A kitten older than four months will be fine by itself overnight. Make sure food, fresh water, and a clean litter box are available to your kitten.
How many days can you leave a cat alone? Cats are independent and can get along on their own for no more than 5 days with a food and water supply. If you must leave your cat for longer than 5 days, make arrangements for somebody to care for your loving feline in your absence.