Dear Doctor: Can two cats be left alone longer than one?


Q.  In your article “Home Alone, But For How Long?” (November 2021 Catnip), you said that even though the rule of thumb for how long a cat can be safely left alone is 24 hours, cat owners should definitely have someone at least come in to check on and pay attention to their pet two times during their absence if they’re going to be away that long. But what about if someone has two or more cats, like I do? Can such cats be left alone for 24 hours — or longer — because they have each other to play with and keep each other company?

Jackie Dobrovolny

Aurora, Colorado

Dear Ms. Dobrovolny,

A. While two or more cats together certainly won’t feel quite as lonely without someone coming by to check in on them during an owner’s 24-hour absence, it is not appropriate to leave multiple cats alone longer than a single cat. “If anything,” says the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Service, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, “it would be prudent to have more visits. With more than one cat, it may be hard for a cat sitter to know whether all cats are using the litterbox as they should, whether all are getting to eat the food that is being provided, and whether they are having their needs met in other ways.”

Keep in mind that cats can’t pass the time by turning on their favorite television show, reading a good book, tending to chores, or talking on the phone. House cats need people to give them some attention and for mental stimulation — and to make sure they haven’t suddenly fallen sick, gotten stuck behind a door, or had some other mishap.

That’s why we believe that at a minimum, it’s important for someone to come by and check on the cats if their human family is going to be gone for at least a whole day and a whole night. As with a single cat, the best option is to have someone stay the night. It can be stressful for cats to be alone at night when they are used to having their people home.



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