Leaving your cat alone while you’re at work, out shopping or visiting friends is unavoidable. But, you WILL need to find ways to keep your cat entertained while you’re gone. Otherwise, you may find that your cat keeps itself busy by unintentionally destroying your home and possessions.
You do not have to reinvent the wheel to keep your cat happy and contented, but you must cater to your feline’s type of personality. Also, the entertainment must be appropriate for the (short or long) duration of your absence. Energetic cats don’t need long to cause total havoc.
In this guide, we will explore methods for keeping your cat occupied and safe from harm. We will advise which cats can be left alone and why senior cats are the easiest of all to keep happy.
Keeping a House Cat Entertained While You’re Out
Depending on the behavior of your cat, the decision to leave them at home alone can be a difficult one. With so many things to break up with their teeth and tear into with their claws, protecting your property from damage is crucial.
Understanding your cat’s behavior and tendencies can help you to put together an entertaining day. Cats are stimulated by what they see and the sounds they hear. Appealing to your cat’s senses and their natural curiosity is absolutely essential.
Placing a toy on the floor and leaving the house for 8 hours will not work for your cat. Ensuring that your cat is mentally stimulated with different options will keep the source of fun fresh. Cats will chase their own shadow if the mood is right, so play to their natural tendencies.
- Some water sitting in a bowl is incredibly boring. Water that flows like a rolling river, such as a cat fountain, is so much more fun to a cat. And it’s the perfect way to get your cat drinking more water if they’re not getting enough fluid for whatever reason.
Ways to Keep a Cat Occupied When You’re Away
There is no such thing as a wrong choice, provided that it is safe and works.
You know your cat better than anyone. Some cats require nothing short of a makeshift theme park to keep them entertained. Others just require a soft white noise and a comfortable bed. Sometimes, being able to sleep in peace is all the ‘fun’ that a feline needs.
Build a Play Area
In the same way that a parent would provide a suitable play area for a toddler, you can do exactly the same for your cat.
If you have space, you should consider dedicating an entire room to your cat. Creating a play center that is away from your living area will eliminate many of your biggest concerns by default.
Placing your feline in a secured outdoor patio is also an option. If you only plan to be away from home for a few hours and the weather is pleasant, this environment will keep your cat safe, entertained, and out of your living space.
For smaller homes, here is a suggestion…
- If you plan on being away for under 8 hours, a large playpen or cage could be an option. Complete with food, water, and litter box, an enclosed play center can allow your cat to roam freely. It’s ideal if you live in an apartment. Even large dog cages can work well for smaller cats and kittens. Your cat will be safe and secure without feeling trapped.
Food, Water, and Snacks
Introducing scrumptious savory meats and snack treats can provide a welcome source of fun. Fresh water from a flowing fountain will likely intrigue your cat sufficiently to keep him or her hydrated in your absence.
- Consider placing snack treats on the floor of the play area in random spots. Remember that cats are natural hunters and love to find their food. It can be a lot of fun and will keep your cat super-busy.
Entertaining and Soothing Sounds
The sounds of birds, rain, wind, the ocean, white noise, etc. can serve to entertain and relax your feline. The use of a white noise machine can provide the perfect audio for your cat. Natural sounds are a source of fascination to your pet.
Even rest can be a form of entertainment, so there is nothing wrong with peace and tranquility for a few hours. The same noise that can peak your cat’s curiosity can also help them get to sleep later in the day.
Although cats like independence, they also don’t enjoy being left alone. Familiar sounds can make them feel like they’re in a normal routine.
- If your cat is accustomed to having outdoor time each day, then providing audio of the great outdoors can be beneficial.
- The sound of your voice can be calming. If you plan on being away for a short time, consider recording yourself. Play the recording as you walk out the door, and they will be able to hear your familiar voice while they relax and enjoy their play area. In many ways, it will be like you’re still in the room.
Provide a Window View
Most cats love the great outdoors, and they’re often more intrigued by life behind the glass. Similar to a movie for human entertainment, a cat can look outside for hours.
If specific windows in your home provide a gateway for entertainment, allow your cat to have a front-row seat. Letting them enjoy the comforts of home while giving them a window to the world can be all the entertainment that they need.
Your cat will feel less boxed in if you can give them a glimpse of other cats, dogs, your neighbor, etc. Cats are very curious creatures!
Cats love to climb, sneak around corners, and find new and exciting ways to view the world. Introducing cat furniture can provide hours of entertainment while you’re away for the day.
Many furniture items contain a series of landing areas, steps, and different perches.
If your cat loves to run around your home and play on your sofa while you’re at home, you can offer them this while you’re away.
- Place cat furniture in front of the window. This will encourage your cat to climb up and down with each floor offering a different view.
Add Your Scent to Cat Bedding
By adding your scent to their natural sleeping area, it will make them feel safe and secure.
Placing an old shirt in the bedding area can keep your cat calm and relaxed. This may also introduce sleep as your cat will be less likely to feel nervous and anxious.
Give Your Cat a Companion
Although this idea can be quite risky, the notion of bringing another cat into the fold can work under the right circumstance.
If your kitty has a friend next door and the two have shared company many times in the past, allowing him or her to stay with your cat could provide entertainment and lessen the anxiety. Although you do have to be careful when introducing a kitten to an older cat.
In the same way that a teenager might invite a friend over, everything is more fun if you can share the moment.
- Allow the new cat to explore your home and play area. Watch the cats play for a few hours and see how things go. This is not a strategy that can be implemented at the last moment without any testing.
Introduce New and Fun Toys
Cats love toys, but even the most fun toys can become tiresome after a while. The introduction of new toys and games could be the answer. Allowing your cat to play with toys it has never seen before will expand the entertainment potential significantly.
- Consider introducing food puzzles. Cats love a challenge, and if that means they have to press a certain lever for snack treats, then they’ll be occupied for ages. Never underestimate the power of a good challenge when it’s properly integrated with food!
Leave the TV on While You’re Away
Many times, entertainment can be found in familiarity. If your cat is used to hearing the familiar sounds of the TV when you’re around them, provide them while you’re gone. This can give your cat a sense of comfort and normalcy.
The more that your cat senses that something is different, the more their natural curiosity could spell bad news for your home and possessions. Providing a healthy mix of busy fun with a natural routine is critical.
- Most TV’s will automatically power off if they’ve been idle for a specific amount of time. Be sure to change your energy settings so that your TV will sustain for the full duration of your outing.
Cats love to explore, crawl, climb and sleep. Boxes can provide to be surprisingly interesting to a cat. By setting up a complex series of boxes within your play area, your feline can have its very own fort.
Similar to cat furniture, your cat’s curiosity will likely be peaked by the introduction of boxes. If each box contains toys and some delicious snack treats, your cat could be kept occupied for several hours.
- Make sure your cat can navigate each box without injury or becoming stuck. He or she needs ample room to turn around inside each box and also pass through any tunnels you may have created. Safety first.
Outdoor Cats That Behave Poorly
If you have an outdoor cat, you may wish to think twice before bringing him or her indoors while you’re away.
Cats can only be entertained indoors if they are familiar with your home. No amount of soothing sounds, toys, games, and comfortable bedding is going to keep an outdoor cat calm within four walls.
If you have a neighbor or relative that could look after your cat for the day, that could be your best option.
Not Every Cat You Own Can be Left Alone
While it’s evident that an outdoor cat should never be kept indoors without supervision, some indoor cats should never be left alone.
Some cats are like problem children. If you have difficulty controlling your cat when you’re home, the last thing you want to do is leave it alone for hours. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine notes that aggression accounts for 27 percent of cases where cats are given up to ‘secured’ shelters. Owners having to withdraw care due to unruly behavior is common.
Other reasons why your cat should never be left alone include…
- If your cat has a chronic health condition, they should never remain alone in your home for hours at a time.
- No cat should be left alone for the duration of a vacation or holiday. A supply of fresh water, food, and a clean litter box will only sustain for 48-72 hours at the most. Cats are creatures of habit, and your cat will become nervous and anxious.
Why Senior Cats Require No Entertainment
Once a cat reaches the age of 11 or older, their desire to be entertained diminishes quickly.
The days of roaming free, hiding behind the sofa, and being curious about everything that moves have long since vanished. It’s for this reason that senior cats do not require challenging puzzles, fuzzy toys, and water fountains to keep them busy while you’re away.
If you’ve had a senior cat for many years, they likely know every inch of your home and have explored it from top to bottom many times. Cats love to sleep, but senior cats love it even more. You can leave your home for hours and return to the same house that you left.
It is not uncommon to leave a senior cat sleeping and return many hours later to the same scene. As long as they have fresh water, wet food, snack treats, a clean litter box, and fresh bedding you should be able to leave home without issue.
- Cats spend most of their days (and lives) doing four things: grooming, eating, sleeping, and stalking. Senior cats often trade in stalking and detailed grooming for extra helpings of sleep. As you plan your absence, you should focus more on providing a comfortable sleep area for your cat rather than preparing any bells and whistles for entertainment.
The key to keeping your cat entertained is to know their personality and their habits. Because every cat is different, it is critical to cater to what your cat enjoys rather than treating them all the same. What is good for most cats may not be right for your cat.
Entertainment is subjective. Keep that in mind when developing a play area.
The duration of your outing is also crucial. Supply enough food, water, snacks, and toys to fill the time. The last thing you want is for the entertainment to run out 2 hours before you return home and to discover that your sofa was the final toy.