Home Alone: How Long Can Your Pet Be Unattended?

by Lauren Caggiano

Maybe you have a busy lifestyle and aren’t home a lot. That isn’t always a recipe for success when combined with having a pet. You might be wondering how long you can safely leave your furry friend alone at home. The answer will depend on the type of pet, its age, needs, and other factors. Here’s a basic guide:

 Kittens

Daww! Kittens are precious but they’re going to require more care and attention than their grown feline peers. That’s why experts say that kitties younger than four months should not be left alone for more than four hours. Once they hit that mark, they can handle another hour or so. After six months, they should be ok for up to eight hours.

Cats

So, what about your four-year old tabby? The length of time you can leave him or her alone will vary according to his or her diet and your environment. Cats who are on dry food diets may be left on their own for up to 48 hours, provided fresh water is accessible. Beyond that time frame, their water bowl and litter box may become too dirty for their liking.

To prepare for leaving your cat alone, you’ll want to make arrangements to safeguard his or her wellbeing. For example, you might want to invest in an automatic feeder, get a second litter box and ensure you have plenty of toys in the home. Also, if inclement weather is a possibility, you’ll want to take that into account. You don’t want your cat getting spooked by a storm when you’re not home to comfort it. When in doubt, consider hiring a cat sitter to make your absence less traumatic. Cats are neurotic creatures, after all.

Puppies

According to Rover.com, puppies need bathroom breaks one hour for every month of age. As they age, they may require less frequent trips outside, but that doesn’t mean you should prolong them. They may be susceptible to urinary tract infections, stones, or crystals if they’re forced to hold it in for too long. Plus, this isn’t a comfortable feeling and can lead to accidents.

But puppies require more care than just adequate potty time — they need interaction, stimulation and exercise. To that end, be mindful about how often and for how long you create them. Starting at 8 weeks they can be crated for up to an hour and by the time they’re 15+ weeks, they can be in the crate for up to 4 hours.

Beyond these factors, you’re going to want to make sure your house has items that will keep them comfortable, calmed and occupied, such as blankets, chew toys, a bed, etc. Also, upon your return be sure you play with the puppy, walk him or her (if needed) and give them lots of love and attention.

Dogs

Dogs require the same considerations as puppies, but to a lesser extent. However, as dogs age they might have issues holding in their urine. That means they might require more bathroom trips and less time alone. Larger breeds will require walks and playtime. Also, older dogs may require medication and more observation in general. It’s always good to err on the side of caution with the length of your time away. A crate isn’t a substitute for your care.

In short, dogs and cats can be left alone for a certain stretch of time. But being a responsible owner means making their time along as pleasant as possible. If you can’t reduce your time away, you can ease separation anxiety with these tips.

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