Cat-astrophic? How to Leave Your Cats Home Alone for 7 Days


Many cat owners occasionally need to leave their cats home alone for extended periods of time, whether for travel, work, or other reasons. This raises important questions about how long cats can safely and comfortably be left on their own. In this article, we will examine the key considerations when leaving cats alone for up to a week, including preparing extra food, water and litter, arranging for pet sitters to check in, cat-proofing the home, accounting for play time and stimulation needs, and transitioning smoothly before and after the absence.

Leaving cats entirely on their own for a full week is generally not recommended, as this stretches the limits of their self-sufficiency. However, with proper planning and precautions, it may be possible to leave healthy adult cats alone for 4-5 days. Kittens and cats with medical issues require more frequent care and check-ins. By addressing all aspects of a cat’s daily routine and environment, we can help set them up for success during these necessary but potentially stressful periods apart.

Assessing Your Cat’s Needs

Cats are relatively independent pets, but they still have basic needs that must be met even when you’re away. According to experts, the maximum time to leave a cat home alone is 24-48 hours before checking in on them again ( When leaving your cat for a week, it’s essential to ensure their needs for food, water, litter cleaning, play and stimulation are met.

Make sure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water by leaving multiple bowls around the house. Cats should drink at least 1 oz of water per pound of body weight daily. Using a water fountain can encourage drinking. Leave enough dry food out to last the full week, plus a little extra. Cats need to eat at least two substantial meals per day. Adjust portions if you have multiple cats. Clean the litter box before leaving. Consider adding an extra box so one can be soiled before needing a change (

Boredom and lack of stimulation can stress cats out. Provide interactive toys like ball towers, food puzzles, and battery-operated toys to keep them occupied. Set up scratching posts, cat trees, and perches near windows for climbing and bird watching. Broadcasting cat-friendly videos or music can also help combat loneliness.

Preparing Extra Food and Water

It is essential to prepare extra food and water for your cat before leaving for an extended period. The ASPCA recommends leaving out at least two times the amount of food your cat would normally eat over the duration you’ll be gone, split into multiple bowls (Modern Cat). This ensures your cat won’t run out if they eat more than usual.

An automatic pet feeder can be helpful to dispense food on a set schedule. Choose one with a large capacity and battery backup in case of power outages. Place water bowls throughout your home, and consider a pet fountain to ensure constant fresh water. Refresh water before leaving. Cats are prone to dehydration, so adequate water is crucial when leaving them alone.(Can I leave my cat alone for 1 week if we provide them with enough food and drink, Quora)

Make sure food and water are far away from the litter box and replenish supplies as needed. With ample sustenance, your cat is less likely to become distressed in your absence.

Litter Box Considerations

Litter box setup is crucial when leaving cats alone for an extended period of time. According to Tips for Leaving Your Cat While You Travel, you’ll want to make sure litter boxes are clean before departing. Scoop all waste and change the litter if needed. Consider adding extra litter boxes around the home, as cats prefer having multiple options.

The number of litter boxes depends on the number of cats. As a general rule, have one more litter box than the number of cats. For a single cat household, have at least two boxes in separate locations. Make sure litter boxes are easily accessible.

An automatic, self-cleaning litter box like the Litter Robot is ideal for leaving cats alone for a week. According to comments on Reddit, the Litter Robot can go a week with one cat before needing emptied. With multiple cats, consider having a friend stop by to empty it mid-week.

By setting up extra litter boxes and cleaning them before you leave, you can help avoid accidents and make your cat more comfortable while you’re away.

Play Time and Stimulation

Cats need mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy. When owners leave for extended periods, it’s important to provide interactive play opportunities to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Rotating beloved toys helps keep things interesting. Place different toys in separate boxes and limit access to one box per day. Items like feathery wands, puzzle feeders, laser pointers, and crinkle balls will pique kitty curiosity. For added enrichment, set up bird and fish videos on a tablet or TV, positioned safely out of kitty’s reach. The simulated prey will capture their attention. Hanging bird feeders outside windows offer live entertainment. Just be sure to supervise playtime with dangling cords and swallowable objects. With a rotating cache of toys and videos, cats can stay happily occupied when home alone.

Avoid Drastic Schedule Changes

While you’re away, it’s important to maintain your cat’s normal routine as much as possible. Cats thrive on regular schedules and predictability. Drastically changing their feeding times, play times, or other daily rhythms can cause stress and anxiety

If possible, have your pet sitter or someone checking in continue feeding your cat meals at the same time of day. Keep play sessions, brushing, and other activities at their usual times too. You can even have automated feeders and toys on timers help stick to your cat’s typical schedule.

Avoid shifting when you leave for work, when your cat eats, or when you go to bed significantly earlier or later than normal. Following their usual daily timeline will help keep your cat relaxed in your absence.

Minor tweaks to the schedule may be necessary if a pet sitter is stopping by at different hours. But stick as close as you can to your cat’s regular routine for feeding, naps, play, etc. Maintaining consistency will help them feel more secure.

While you’re prepping for your trip, pay extra attention to keeping everything on schedule in the days leading up to your departure. The more you can preserve their typical rhythms, the smoother the transition will be when you have to leave them for an extended period.

Have a Pet Sitter Check-In

Even for independent cats who are used to being alone for long stretches, most experts recommend having a pet sitter check in at least once per day when leaving them for a week or more. According to Rover’s pet care guide, daily visits allow the pet sitter to “feed them, clean the litter boxes, provide fresh water, give medications if needed, and make sure they’re safe and sound” (

Pet sitter visits provide peace of mind that your cat has clean litter, food, and water, and is safe while you’re away. Even if your cat tends to hide when strangers are around, the pet sitter can confirm they are still eating, drinking, and using the litter box as normal. According to experts at Deziroo, “Daily interaction, even if minimal, helps reduce anxiety for both pet and pet parent during separations” (

Discuss your cat’s personality and preferences with the pet sitter before your trip, so they know what to expect during visits. Leaving detailed instructions can help ease anxiety for both you and your cat while you’re away.

Boarding vs. At-Home Care

When leaving cats alone for a week, pet parents have two main options – boarding or at-home care. Both have pros and cons to weigh when deciding what’s best for your cat.

The main advantage of boarding is 24/7 supervision and care. Reputable boarding facilities will feed, play with, and monitor your cat’s health and litter habits. However, boarding can be stressful for some cats as it disrupts their routine and environment (1). The confined space and presence of other animals may also cause anxiety in some cats. Boarding costs can also add up quickly.

Having a pet sitter care for your cat at home allows them to stay in their familiar environment. Sitters can visit 1-2 times per day to feed, play with, and check on your cat. However, your cat will be alone the majority of the time. Solo at-home care also requires preparing extra food, water, litter, etc. in advance. While cheaper than boarding, daily pet sitter visits still have a cost.

When weighing boarding vs. at-home care, consider your cat’s personality and needs. An anxious or ill cat may benefit from 24/7 supervision at a boarding facility. A healthy, socialized cat may do fine with at-home visits. Try out different options beforehand to see how your cat responds. This can help inform what’s best when you need to be away for a week.



Preparing the Home

When leaving your cat alone for an extended period, it’s important to ensure your home is safe and cat-proofed before you go. Make sure to put away any loose wires, toxic chemicals, or poisonous plants that your curious cat could get into while you’re gone. Cats can sometimes chew on and play with wires when bored, so keeping these tidied up and out of reach is important.

You’ll also want to childproof cabinets and make sure any heavy objects are securely placed, so your cat doesn’t knock them over while jumping up on counters or shelves. Consider storing breakable items before leaving. It’s a good idea to keep toilet lids closed as well so your cat doesn’t accidentally fall in.

Providing some entertainment for your cat while you’re gone can also help prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Consider leaving a radio or TV on tuned to calming music or nature sounds. Rotate your cat’s toys so some “new” ones are out to capture their interest. Provide ample scratching posts, cat trees, and perches for climbing and scratching. This will give your cat positive outlets for their energy.

Doing a thorough cat-proofing of your home before an extended absence will help set both you and your feline friend up for success. Coming home to a safe, secure environment will provide peace of mind.


When preparing to leave your cats alone for a week, the most important considerations are ensuring they have enough food and water, a clean litter box, adequate play time and stimulation, and avoiding any drastic changes to their normal routine. It’s also wise to have someone check in on them periodically or hire a pet sitter to provide in-home care. Proper preparation is key to keeping your cats happy and healthy while you’re away.

To recap, be sure to leave extra food and water, clean the litter box before you leave, provide interactive toys to keep them occupied, stick to their normal feeding and play schedule as much as possible, and have a trusted person monitor them at least once or twice. Boarding your cats is also an option, but many cats prefer to stay in their familiar home environment if properly cared for. With the right preparations, your cats can do just fine on their own for a week as long as their basic needs are met.

By following these tips, cat owners can feel confident leaving their feline companions at home alone for short periods. With proper planning and preparations, cats can thrive in your absence until you return.

Scroll to Top