About authors

Image of partner

Katzen-artig, Coaching für Katzen und ihre Menschen

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Katzen-artig, Coaching für Katzen und ihre Menschen

For many people, cats are still (wrongly) considered to be independent loners who see their humans merely as “food providers” and tolerated staff. Compared to dogs, cats are still thought to be far less time-consuming pets. But on the contrary, cats need care, attention and occupation just as much. As social and intelligent animals, they want to be encouraged, otherwise they quickly become bored. 

In dogs, the topic of “separation anxiety” has been scientifically studied several times. In the meantime, however, there have also been studies on cat behaviour and these clearly show that cats also have problems with being alone for longer periods of time. 

Loneliness makes sick and promotes behavioural problems

Indoor-only cats in solitary confinement suffer particularly from loneliness. In one study („Identification of separation-related problems in domestic cats: A questionnaire survey“ from D.de Souza Machado and othe people, published on April 15,2020) it was found that behavioural problems occurred especially in cats that had to spend more than 6 hours a day alone for five to seven days a week.

Among the most common behavioural problems in cats that are often left alone are, for example:

  • Uncleanliness 
  • Destructiveness
  • Meowing all the time
  • Dejection and depression
  • Apathy and listlessness
Banner App

How long is harmless?

How long a cat can be left alone without suffering depends on a number of factors. Young cats and cats that have just moved in, senior cats and sick animals should never be left alone for a long time.

Cats with the possibility of going outdoor and cats that can live harmoniously with their conspecifics usually cope quite well with being at home without you for a few hours. However, remember that companions are no substitute for you and every cat wants to spend time with you. 

How long it is straight to stay away varies from cat to cat, as each cat is an individual with different needs. Observe your pet’s behaviour. Behavioural problems can be a sign of being left alone too long. 

Important: If not otherwise possible, due to your work or the like, a qualified pet sitter is recommended. 

Making it easier to leave your cat alone?

  • For many cats it is very important to have a companion of the same character and age as your cat to cuddle, romp and play with. 
  • The home furnishings should also be suitable for cats, with lots of climbing opportunities and observation posts by the window. 
  • Cat flaps on a well-secured balcony or terrace mean a great deal of freedom, excitement and joy in life for your cats. 
  • Species-appropriate toys, which you change regularly, provide entertainment while you are away. 
  • Cardboard boxes lined with rustling paper, treats hidden in a fiddle board or in the flat and worn T-shirts or jumpers on the sofa can also sweeten the time your pets spend alone.
  • Turning on the radio can also help. 

Learning to stay alone

You can slowly get young cats used to being left alone. First for a few minutes, then for an hour or two. If this works well, you can increase the amount of time. In the beginning, a camera can be helpful to see what your cat is doing in your absence and whether she is really comfortable or perhaps stressed and not calming down.

If your cats don’t have a problem being alone, they can stay at home while you are on holiday. Most cats (who are not used to moving around) prefer this to the stress of going back and forth. 

However, you should find an experienced cat sitter in good time. Ideally, the cat sitter should come to your home 1 or 2 times a day, take care of the cat(s), clean the litter trays and regularly spend at least half an hour playing with your pets. 

Katze alleine möchte nach draußem


Most cats are not loners, but very social animals that can suffer if you leave them alone for hours at a time. Therefore, before you adopt a cat, make sure that you have enough time to spend with it and take in two cats at the same time. Your darling will thank you for it.