How Long Can Pets Be Left Home Alone?
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How Long Can Pets Be Left Home Alone?

How long can I leave my cat home alone? How long can I leave a puppy home alone? How long can a dog stay home by itself? How long can birds stay home by themselves? How often do pets need pet sitters? If I go away for a weekend will my cat be fine home alone? Can I leave my rabbit home alone for a few days while I am on holiday?

If you are going on holidays you might be wondering; “How long can I leave my pets home alone for?” There are many factors to consider, how long can they be alone without food and water, as well as their need for companionship.


Fish can be left longer than most pets, assuming the power does not go out. Pet stores sell dissolving time release food systems that can be put in a fish tank when going away. Some last only for the weekend, others last for a full week. Fish can usually go for 1.5 days without feeding of any kind, with the exception of young fry who do need regular feeding. Again, the concern being if the power goes out, the heater stops working, or the filter breaks down.

It is a good idea to have somebody check your home and fish every 3 days if you are going on a long trip. Their lights should be on a timer.

Caged Pets

Caged pets such as rabbits, hamsters and Guinea Pigs suffer from boredom if not checked, and let out of their cages, regularly. Another concern is that they might spill their water or run out of water. As such small caged pets should be checked every 72 hours, and should be let out of their cage at this time as well.


There are many different kinds of birds, from small canaries, to chickens, to large parrots. Birds such as parrots suffer the most from being left alone on an emotional level and might be best if left in the care of a neighbor, even taken to that persons house so they will have company most of the time.

Other birds should be checked on daily, or at least every two days, even small canaries. Concerns are that they will spill their water, or seeds. Most birds like routine and get stressed when left alone for too long.


Cats are fairly independent and unless your cat is on medication it can be left home alone for up to 72 hours. You should provide it with an extra litter box, extra bowl of food, and two extra bowls of water. Young kittens under 6 months, and older cats, should be checked every 48 hours. Cats who are left at home should be kept indoors and the cat sitter who is checking on them should be instructed not to let them out.


Dogs are not independent enough to be left home alone for long at all. They are pack animals and really need to be with their pack. Puppies cannot hold their bladders for long and if left alone they suffer mentally. Puppies, and senior dogs, should not be left for more than 8 hours at a time. This means if you are going away somebody should check (and taken it outside) at least 3 times a day.

Adult dogs should be checked, and taken out, at least twice a day. Owners who are gone for very long might consider taking their dog, or puppy, to a boarding kennel rather than having somebody come over many times in the day to care for, walk, and check on their dog.

Outdoor Pets - Livestock

Most livestock animals are fine if checked every 48 hours, assuming they are on pasture, and not in a barn.  The concerns are that they have water and have not gotten out a broken fence or something.

Note: Some home insurance companies require somebody to check on your home every 72 hours if you are away, whether or not you have pets. If, for example, your pipes break and your basement is flooded and nobody was assigned to check on your home, and you left for a week, your insurance may be void, so in addition to care for your pets you need to find out if your insurance company requires regular checks on your house as well.

Many people will hire pet sitters to look after their pets when they must go away for long.

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Comments (6)

Such valuable information for all pet owners.

When I go on a trip more than 24 hours, i leave my cats to my youngest son, thanks Brenda.

Ranked #3 in Pets & Family

A wonderful and informative article Brenda, but I think that cats are as different from one another, personality wise, as people are. My cats were very attached to me. They knew my schedule as well as I did and if I was away from home a few hours longer than what was normal for me, they would be in the windows waiting for me to come home and then they would all over and around me the minute I walked through the door. They never seemed to care how long "she who shall go unnamed" was away because I think they knew all along that she really didn't care about them even when I had thought that she had loved them as much as I did.

These are wonderful information. I'll make a check list out of this.

Excellent article! Voted up and promoted.

This is outstanding information,Brenda.