Can Cats Feel Lonely?

silver tabby cat on window

Key points

  • If your cat meows excessively, constantly grooms itself, stops using the litter box, and expresses aggressive behavior, it could be a sign of separation anxiety.
  • It’s best not to leave your cat alone for more than 24 hours. Ask a friend to check on your cat, get a pet sitter, or use boarding facilities, as leaving your pet alone for a long time may be very dangerous.
  • When you leave your cat alone, make sure that it has enough food, water, and a clean litter box. Give the cat some toys or hide snacks around the house to keep it entertained.
  • You can also consider adopting another cat to keep your pet company. Introduce the animals gradually and try to adopt a cat that’s close in age to your pet.

Cats are known for being independent. Many people are convinced that cats don’t need companionship and are perfectly fine by themselves. But is it actually true? Unfortunately, cats can get separation anxiety or become depressed as easily as dogs, but this condition is often left unnoticed because their behavior is different from dogs’. They don’t pant and race everywhere or destroy all the furniture. Instead, the symptoms of cat anxiety are more subtle: they become more clingy and can meow excessively. They can also experience a loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cats crave companionship, and their anxiety and depression can become severe if they are often being left alone for long periods of time.

Signs That My Cat Has Anxiety

cat lying on mat

Excessive Grooming

Just like dogs, cats can start obsessively grooming themselves if they suffer from a lack of companionship. So if you notice that your pet’s grooming routine has gotten more intense than usual, try to spend more time with it.


Usually, when cats are anxious, they start meowing excessively and loudly. It’s the most common sign that your pet craves attention from you.


If you notice your cat behaving aggressively when you’re about to leave the house, or you see scratches on your sofa, ripped curtains, or other destroyed things, it’s a sign that you are leaving your pet for too long, making it feel lonely. Destructive behavior is a sign of boredom, so you should try to provide some entertainment for your pet while you are away.

Using The Litter Box

Sometimes, you can notice that your cat is spraying or squatting outside the litter box, or it may even stop using it altogether. The first step is to check for any medical conditions and eliminate kidney and urinary problems. If everything is fine, then maybe your pet is using this extreme method to grab your attention. Consider this possibility especially carefully if the pet is marking your bed, clothes, or anything that has your scent.

black cat on silver sink

How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Alone?

This is very individual and depends entirely on your cat’s character and habits. But the pet’s age should be taken into account too. Here’s the maximum amount of time you can leave your cat alone at different ages. But you should still make sure that somebody checks on the pet while you’re away, if possible.

Age Time Alone
Under 4 months 2-4 hours
4-5 months 5 hours
6 months 8 hours
Healthy grown-up cats 24-48 hours

Before leaving the house, remove all sharp objects in your pet’s reach, make sure there’s enough water and food, and there are no poisonous plants such as aloe vera, lilies, tulips, tomato plants, and others around.

Tips For Leaving Your Cat Alone

white and brown cat on white table

  • Fill the cat’s bowls with fresh water or get a water fountain that will prevent water from going stale.
  • Leave enough food, but if you’re away only for a few hours, leave a snack and maintain the cat’s regular feeding schedule.
  • Create a safe environment for your cat and kitty-proof your house. Make sure that all dangerous chemicals, cables, plastic bags, poisonous plants, and sharp objects are out of your cat’s reach. Unplug paper shredders and cut both ends of the bag in your trash bin, if there’s one. Keep the toilet lid closed as well.
  • Scoop your pet’s litter boxes and leave a few of them for your cat to use.
  • Ask someone to check on your cat. Tell them all the details they need to know and inform them of your cat’s eating schedule and health condition. Give them your vet’s number in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure your cat is entertained and doesn’t get lonely and bored while you’re away.

Entertaining Your Cat When You Are Away

Here are a few things you can do to keep your cat busy when you’re not home:

  • Leave some toys
  • Get vertical scratch posts for your cat
  • Buy a few puzzle feeders or cat trees
  • Hang bird feeders outside the window
  • Turn on the TV or play music
  • Hide some food or treats around the house
  • Ask somebody to drop in and play with your cat
  • Get another pet cat

How To Leave A Cat Overnight?

Leaving your cat overnight should not be a problem as long as you ensure a safe environment for it. Make sure there’s enough food and water and a few litter boxes. However, if you know that your cat has separation anxiety, getting a pet sitter may be a better option. Or you can simply ask a friend or family member to play with the cat and watch your feline overnight.

How To Leave A Cat For A Weekend?

When you’re going away for more than 24 hours, you should definitely ask somebody to check on your cat at least a few times, as the pet can get lonely, bored, or ill. Also, keep in mind that weather changes affect cats severely. Use a water fountain to prevent the cat’s water from becoming stale. Consider purchasing automatic cat feeders to ensure that the pet doesn’t run out of food. And don’t forget to leave a few litter boxes and kitty proof your house.

If you have plans for the whole weekend, it’s best not to leave your feline alone. If possible, use a boarding facility. It may be stressful for your pet to be alone with other cats, but at least it’ll be safe, and all its basic needs will be met.

Leaving Your Cat For A Week

orange tabby cat on white wooden cabinet

This is definitely not the best idea. If you need to go away for a week and can’t find a way to leave the cat at a boarding facility or get a pet sitter, then ask someone to check in on the cat at least once a day. Still, it’s a huge risk, and you need to prepare for this responsibly. Here are some things that may happen if you leave your cat alone for a whole week:

  • Food and water supplies can run out or go bad and be dangerous for your cat
  • Weather changes will affect your cat’s well-being
  • Your cat can get ill or injured
  • The pet’s litter boxes will become full, and it will start house-soiling
  • The cat will get lonely, depressed, or anxious

Adopting Another Cat: Tips

Having a neighbor or a friend drop in when you leave your cat alone may be a great solution, but another option you have is getting a new cat. Cats can easily get lonely, and having a new friend may reduce the risk of the pet developing anxiety. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when getting another cat:

Know Both Cats’ History

If you find out what household the other cat grew up in, it may be easier to determine whether it’ll get along with your pet. If it grew up with other kittens, it means that the cat is probably quite social, so it’s more likely to become a great playmate. Also, if the cat doesn’t show any anxiety symptoms, it will likely easily become friends with your cat.

white and brown long fur cat

Choose A Coeval Cat

It’s better to adopt a cat of a similar age so that both animals have the same energy level. If the other cat is too energized or too slow, it may stress out your cat. If you are looking for a companion for an older cat, it’s best to get two kittens who’ll become playmates.

Keep Them Separate At First

When it comes to introducing two cats, take the introduction process very slowly. It’s best to keep the animals separate at first. This will help them get used to each other’s sounds and smells, decreasing the neuroendocrine stress response. Keep the cats’ food bowls and litter boxes further apart to avoid stressing them out further. Eventually, they’ll get used to each other and form a bond.

Keep The Cats’ Food Bowls Separate

One thing to keep in mind is that cats don’t like eating next to each other, and having their bowls close to other cats’ bowls stresses them out.

Companion For A Grieving Cat

Don’t rush into looking for a new pet if one of your cats has recently died. Just like with humans, it’s best to give your cat (and yourself) time to grieve and get back on track. It may take up to a few months for your cat to be ready to socialize again. It’s true that cats like companionship, but they only need it from those they have bonded with.


How can you tell if your cat is lonely?

If your cat is lonely, it will sleep for longer periods of time, exhibit aggressive behavior, experience litter box issues, and meow more often.

Is it cruel to have one cat?

No, it’s not cruel if you don’t leave your cat alone for long periods of time often.

Are cats happier in pairs?

Yes, it’s scientifically proven that most cats are happier in pairs. When a cat spends a lot of time alone, it can develop depression or separation anxiety.

Do cats cry when lonely?

Yes, cats tend to meow constantly when they are lonely, which is a form of crying.

What is the friendliest cat breed?

Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Siamese, Sphynx, Abyssinian, and Persian cats are among the friendliest.