Tag: leaving cats alone

Seven Thousand And One!

The streak continues!

Buddy's House
“I make the rules, human!”

Buddy had to wait an extra day for my return from the Outer Banks due to the snowstorm, which made a mess of the roads, led to canceled flights and would have been miserable — and impossible — to drive through. My SiL’s brother tried to drive through it and gave up after 13 hours, getting as far as just north of Washington, D.C., before booking a hotel room and driving the rest of the way to New York the next day.

As expected, little dude tried to play it cool at first. He couldn’t stop himself from getting up and going to the door, but he played it off like “Hey, you’re home. That’s cool, I guess.” Then he nonchalantly padded away.

The indifferent act lasted for about 15 minutes, as usual, before Bud forgot he was supposed to be mad at me. He hopped up to the couch and started nuzzling and scent-rubbing on me, happily purring.

However, it took him longer than usual to act like his normal self, and he’s been particularly clingy since then. At one point I put on my coat and shoes to get a bag I’d left in the car, and Bud started nervously pacing, loudly vocalizing and sat down in front of the door as if to say “No! Big Buddy stays here!”

I think he does okay if someone’s here with him, but having a cat sitter stop by once a day probably doesn’t cut it anymore. Partly that’s Bud’s fault for attacking her last time, because she won’t play with him anymore, but I’ll have to think about alternatives next time I’m away for more than two days or so.

I took some photos of OBX and will post them this week after I’ve had time to sort them. We were very fortunate, with 65-degree days for the entire stretch, and even in winter there’s lots of interesting history to see on the islands where two Americans first achieved powered flight, colonies disappeared and notorious pirates stashed their treasure.

buddydoor

How Long Can You Leave Your Cat Alone?

Back in the Dark Ages of kitty cognitive knowledge, when scientists wouldn’t go near a cat with a 20-foot pole because they were considered impossible to work with, the conventional wisdom was that as long as a cat was fed and watered, its needs were met.

Going away for three days? Leave a few bowls of dry food and water and you’re good to go, or if you really want to splurge, get an automatic feeder, the prevailing wisdom went. Gonna be away for a week or two? Get someone to check in on the cat a few times a week just to make sure food and water is available.

“If you want a dog but you don’t have time to meet all of its needs, get a cat,” people would say. “They take care of themselves.”

It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong the “prevailing wisdom” on cats really was, and thankfully in recent years we’ve seen a boom in research into cat behavior, intelligence and emotional needs. Among the many things verified by those studies is the fact that cats absolutely are emotional animals and are not the cold, indifferent automatons many people insisted they were.

One reason for that enduring myth may be cats’ famous stoicism. Ignore a dog and she might cry, become destructive or pee in your house, but one thing’s for sure — she’s going to let you know she’s not handling the isolation well. Ignore a cat, and he’ll just withdraw.

I’ve seen plenty of examples of the latter in the homes of friends and acquaintances. The cats are just sort of there, existing like the furniture or plants, interacted with rarely and given affection only occasionally. Those poor cats are quiet, seemingly indifferent, expecting nothing and sadly accepting of their place. They are neglected.

But when you pay attention to your cats they come out of their shells, so to speak. They warm to you. They reveal their hidden emotional core.

Of course, when you raise a cat with attention and love, that’s there from the very beginning, and they WILL let you know when they’re not happy with your absence.

Who do we know who’s like that? His name sounds like Bum, or maybe Bunny, or…oh yeah! God forbid I should ignore Buddy. I’ll never hear the end of it. In fact, he’s on my desk right now, butt parked next to the mouse, and I’m sure any minute now he’s going to decide that I’ve been writing for too long and declare it’s Buddy Time.

Of course, the little jerk attacked his own cat sitter, a friend who has been caring for him when I’m away since he was a kitten! That complicates things.

“Oh servant! Servant, come here at once! I’d like a massage!”

If you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering how long you can really leave your cat alone. The answer is no more than 24 hours without someone dropping by to check on kitty, refill the water and food bowls, and give him some attention.

If you’re gone longer you’re going to want to make concrete plans for a cat sitter to be there every day.

“You should not leave your cat alone for a prolonged period,” veterinary postdoc Mikel Delgado told Inverse. “Cats also have emotional and social needs that can’t be met when they are left alone for extended periods.”

If your cat likes to play, that’s great, but even if the little one doesn’t, your cat sitter can make things easier by simply hanging out, Delgado said.

Now if you’ll excuse me, His Grace needs me…