We’ll admit we’re biased – Stay with Stella is community centered on free cat sitting – but we’re not just not fans of leaving our furry friends home alone. Acknowledging that bias – and that there are lots of cat owners who love to travel – we went looking for some guidelines for whether or not it really is safe to leave your cat alone while you’re away. And if so, for how long? Here’s what we found.

Alone is OK – For a While

There seems to be strong agreement that leaving your cat alone overnight is fine. That is, of course, assuming he or she is healthy.

For short stretches like that, it’s easy to leave enough food and fresh water available for your cat. And the litter box won’t become problematic that quickly, either. So if you’re planning an overnighter and your cat is in good health, have a guilt-free great time!

Alone May Be Better Than the Alternative

For longer absences you have to look at other options. For instance, a boarding facility.

There’s a reason that cats are boarded less frequently than dogs. While both are social and territorial, most cats are less social than most dogs and more territorial. Or it might be more accurate to say that dogs are territorial in a different way. Dogs are more willing to roam while cats like to stick to their own turf, generally.

That can mean that a cat boarding facility may not be the best choice as it can be more stressful than the change in routine of you not being around for a while. And it can be really guilt-inducing to realize that at the same time a change of scenery is doing wonders for your mental state, a similar change is really bumming your cat out.

Alone and Lonely Aren’t the Same Thing

In other words, your cat may be OK with less human contact for a while as long as she gets to stay in familiar confines. That depends on your cat’s temperament. Some cats find a little too much alone-time unpleasant. Don’t expect that having multiple cats is an answer to this problem. It’s often as much about the change in routine as it is about the interaction itself. You’ll have to try for yourself to see how your cats – both as a group and individually – react to your travel schedule.

Work is Like a Mini-Vacation

Probably not for you, but for your cat … 

Most of us leave every day for work for a pretty extended stint. Or that we have frequent commitments outside the house. So your cats are likely used to some time on their own no matter whether you sneak away for a long weekend or not.

For them, the real issue may be in the evenings and at night rather than during the day. And that’s why (not to show our own biases …) we think Stay with Stella is a great idea. Your cats have company when they want it most.

In the end, know that your cat may not be as demonstrative as a dog or human. Be attentive to changes in behavior and eating habits. Sudden shifts could indicate that all is not well in your cat’s world. And if the changes are a result of you traveling more, you may want to address your cat’s loneliness in whatever way works best for you and her. (Don’t forget that Stay with Stella is a great way to get great, free cat-sitting for your cat!)