Should I Get a Cat if I Live Alone?

Perhaps you thought about getting a cat, but you wondered if it makes sense since you live alone. You may worry about going to work and leaving the cat home alone.

Should I get a cat if I live alone? In most cases, getting a cat as the only person in the household won’t pose a problem. A normal workday won’t disrupt the cat too much, but you may want to refrain from getting one when away for days or weeks at a time consistently. Cats don’t like to be alone too long or they become unhappy.

In the following article, we will explore the nature of cats and we will look at the difference between cats being alone and kittens being alone. Keep reading to learn more!

Cats: Indifferent to Humans?

Many times you hear the stereotype that cats could care less about humans either way. While cats act differently to dogs, they, in fact, don’t like to be alone for too long.

Someone with a job like a single long-haul trucker may have a hard time having a cat unless they took him along in the truck. It would be hard on the cat, otherwise. He would begin to display signs of loneliness.

Signs of loneliness in a cat include:

  • Clinginess
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Not pooping or peeing in the litter box
  • Pulling out fur from excessive grooming
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Destructive behavior

Research has shown that cats often form attachments to their humans in such a way that it goes beyond them being a source of food. Humans become a source of comfort and security, also. Living alone with a cat shouldn’t pose much problem, but you may not want one if you will be away for long periods of time because it will be hard on him.

Cats vs Kittens: How Long to Leave a Cat Alone

Are you thinking about getting a kitten, but you’re worried about the amount of work it might require? I wrote about kittens and how much work they require here. Outside of not being able to handle long stretches alone, kittens don’t require a lot more work than adult cats. You may have to play with them more but not much else.

Kittens struggle more with being alone than adult cats. Based on the age, you don’t want to leave the cat alone for too long.

Here’s a chart as a general rule, but keep in mind that it depends on the personality of the cat, also:

AgeTime Spent by Self
5 months and below4 to 5 hours
6 months8 hours
18 months24 to 48 hours
How long before a cat begins to feel lonely based on age

Understand how this shows you the maximum that you would want to leave a cat home alone. What if you work a 12-hour shift and live alone? You can still have a cat, but you may want to bring home an adult cat because it can handle alone time better.

Give him toys and things that he can play with to keep him distracted while away. A cat tree, such as the LAZY BUDDY 68”XXXL Wooden Cat Tree Tower can keep him occupied. You might leave him with some toys to play with as well.

Get Him a Playmate

What if you want a kitten, but you work long hours and live alone? Bringing home a pair of cats can reduce the risk of loneliness. They can entertain and play with each other. This takes some of the stress off you. The two can play with each other when you’re not around.

Having a companion cat will reassure him and build confidence. They also learn social skills from each other as they learn how to play and how much pressure to use when playing. If one cat uses too much force, the other will let out a sharp yelp to let the other know it.

Beware of how the two cats should match each other’s personality. You don’t want to introduce a cat that will dominate the other one. Leaving the pair alone could lead to drastic problems. Never let two cats fight it out. They could seriously injure each other.

In particular, this can work when you get them both as kittens because they will each grow up with each other and bond at an early age. In some cases, when you introduce an older cat to a new kitten, they don’t form this same bond.

Older Cat from a Shelter

Many people choose kittens at the shelter over the older cats, but when you live alone and work between 10 to 12-hour days, it may make more sense to adopt an older cat. Adult cats can handle alone time for up to two days, depending on the cat.

An older cat even appreciates the calmness in the home, and as an added bonus, you can adopt a spayed or neutered cat right from the get-go without having to pay for it.

Depends on the Cat

How long you can leave a cat alone in the home will depend on the personality of the cat. Like people, cats differ in personality. Some like a lot of love and affection while others can handle themselves by themselves.

You might have one cat that loses his mind every time you leave him alone. He starts excessively meowing and destroying things. Luckily, cats like this tend to be the exception, rather than the law. Always consider the personality of the cat before taking him home. You want to find a good match.

Is it cruel to keep a cat as a single pet? In most cases, cats won’t have a problem with being alone for a short time. Keeping a cat as a single pet over long periods, however, can be cruel to the cat. For an adult cat anything over 24 to 48 hours is too long. Young kittens shouldn’t be left alone for longer than four to five hours.

Should a single person get a cat? A single person should have no problem getting a cat. In fact, it can fill a gap if the person feels lonely. The cat can make them feel better. Beware of leaving a cat alone for longer than two days, however, because this can be hard on the cat.


Most cats can handle being alone, but if you will leave him alone for long stretches of time, such as two days or longer, you may want to bring home an extra cat to keep him from getting lonely. This can smooth things over and make it easier on your cat.

Before you decide to bring home a cat, you may find it advantageous to learn some of the disadvantages of getting a cat. This leads to responsible pet ownership, and ensures that a person knows what they’re getting themselves into. I wrote about the disadvantages here.

2 thoughts on “Should I Get a Cat if I Live Alone?”

  1. Pingback: Pros and Cons of Getting a Female Cat - The Paw Father
  2. I have two boys, Doogle and Roger. I work 9-5 on weekdays so having a pair is ideal, instant playmate and companion. With the help of the cat tree and automatic feeder, I can leave them for 24hrs no problem. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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