News flash. I'm all about cats. And in addition to writing and blogging, I'm the cat sitter in charge at HappyCat Brooklyn Cat Sitting. Recently, I was introduced to a new modern cat furniture brand, Tuft + Paw. Founded by Jackson Cunningham, the California brand has been dubbed the "West Elm of cat furniture," and has a talented team of cat behavior experts, designers, and engineers. Everything She Wants asked Tuft + Paw's veterinarian for tips on how to care for your feline friends while you're away for Labor Day vacay.
Everything She Wants: Is it a myth or fact that you can leave your cat home by herself/himself for several days or longer as long as you leave out food and water?
|Photos courtesy of Tuft + Paw|
Tuft + Paw: This is mostly a myth. While it's safe to leave a cat for short periods of time, I would not recommend leaving a cat home alone for several days. The biggest danger is that the cat could became ill and would not receive medical attention for several days. Additionally, cats can get very stressed when their owners are away or their routine is disrupted. Stress can lead to house soiling and other destructive behavior. It can also cause medical issues such as anorexia, gastrointestinal upset or bladder problems. If a large amount of dry food is left out in a regular dish, some cats may eat it all in the first day and then be left with nothing. Canned food would go bad. Water would not remain fresh or attractive, which could lead to dehydration. Lastly, the litterbox needs to be scooped daily. Even self-cleaning litter boxes need maintenance after a few days. Many cats will stop using litterboxes that have not been cleaned, resulting in a huge mess when owners finally arrive home.
ESW: How long can you safely leave your cat alone?
Tuft + Paw: I recommend that cats are not left alone longer than 1-2 days. If owners need to be away longer than that, it is best to hire a pet sitter who can come 1-2 times a day to check on the cat, provide fresh food and water, and scoop the litter box. Automatic dry food dispensers and water fountains can be used provide regular meals, but someone should still check in to make sure the cat is okay.
ESW: How can cat owners keep their cats happy while they are away?
Tuft + Paw: Cats don't like change, so their environment and resources (food, water, beds, and litterboxes) should stay as normal as possible. Don't introduce new foods or litter and rearrange things before leaving. Make sure cats have a comfortable bed or resting area to use as a secure refuge. A tree house or perch with multiple levels provides a safe space and allows cats to see outside for environmental enrichment. Puzzle feeding toys, catnip toys, and swatting balls are also a good enrichment activities. Scratching posts are a great way to keep them busy without destroying the furniture. If there are multiple cats, make sure each has their own safe space and provide multiple dishes and litterboxes to prevent conflict. Finally, I recommend Feliway pheromone diffusers for their calming effects.