Psyched about your much needed holiday getaway but upset about leaving your feline friend home alone? Well, your worries aren’t unfounded: kitties need companionship too. Cats can get the blues, and contrary to popular belief, the so-called solitary creatures do get lonesome.
Majority of veterinarians believe that domestic cats are not only prone to depression, but can also suffer from social isolation, which may be the cause of kitty’s naughty behavior while you’re away. But how long is too long to leave your cat?
According to Pets.ca, a pet information center in Canada, cats should not be left alone for longer than two days. Apart from possibly running out of food and water, they may become anxious, and cause damage to the home and their mental state. Playful interaction is the key to kitty’s happiness.
If an extra long day at work or a weekend trip is the case, there are plenty of ways to keep your cat entertained. Fun toys around the house will keep your pet content and help draw attention away from household plants, table legs, carpet, and other things that might tempt cat claws. But, just as important as play is rest. Make sure your cat has a warm, dry place to curl up and relax. The folks at Whiskas also suggest leaving a radio or TV on for comforting background noise, or leaving out empty boxes and bags for exploration. “Many owners feel a pang of guilt when leaving their pets,” says Whiskas’ James H. Sokolowski, DVM, PhD. “Simple alterations to the house, and providing the proper toys, can help reduce the boredom and make a cat’s time alone much more entertaining and enjoyable.”
While cats can cope for a couple of days, there will probably be times when an owner’s absence will need to be longer. During these times arrangements should be made for your cat to have a sitter. Pets.ca stresses the importance of leaving emergency numbers, as well as instructions on feeding and administering medications. Although boarding is always an option it’s best to keep cats in their familiar environment in order to avoid increased agitation.
If you’re still worried about kitty coping with your absence, Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSC, DACVB, recommends another way to keep your cat happy: get him a friend! A study by the National Council on Pet Population shows that animals left home alone have brains that weigh up to 25% less than those with companions. “Two cats are just better than one,” says Schwartz. “Not only will they keep each other company, but owning two cats will provide a happier living environment for both the cats and their owner.”
While it’s not always easy to be away from your beloved cat, the absence can definitely be made easier. Keep your cat’s need for both play and comfort in mind, and the time apart will be better for your cat’s well being, not to mention your state of mind.
Feline Loneliness: The CAT-PANION Crusade Offers These Six “Tell-TAIL” Signs
• Over grooming. If your cat is constantly cleaning or even pulling out hair, he or she is likely suffering from kitty OCD.
• Spraying/Squatting. If your cat is marking territory with urine or stool, or excessively vomiting, it’s a sign that that your cat is aware, and unhappy with your absence.
• Excessive vocalization. Meowing and mewing is your kitty’s way of grabbing your attention.
• Destructiveness. Anxiety will cause your cat to “move” items around.
• Aggressive behavior. Cats may show aggressive behavior towards you when you try to leave the house.
• Over-attachment. If your cat follows you from room to room, rarely letting you out of its sight this could be a sign of separation anxiety.
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