If you’ve had a cat for a long time, then you know that your cat disappears for hours at a time doing whatever cats do—probably sleeping. It’s almost as if your cat gets enough of you and your family members and needs to hide somewhere to sleep off the stimulation. Do cats need alone time?
Cats might need alone time if they are overstimulated and need a rest. Rescue cats who previously were used to being alone in the wild might also need alone time to recharge. But cats still need your friendship and love and will become lonely if left alone too long.
Like you, your cat needs alone time now and again. After reading this article, you will learn why cats need alone time and how to work with your cat to help it become healthy and happy.
Why Does My Cat Need Time Alone?
Cats are not the solitary creatures they are thought to be, but they also need alone time once in a while to sleep. They sleep between 12 and 14 hours per day, so if they are nowhere to be found, they could be hiding in a closet or under a blanket to get some peace while they sleep.
Like humans, cats need some alone time due to overstimulation or anxiety from too much tension or fighting with other cats. Sometimes, cats who live in homes with small children will need more alone time due to the extra playing that small kids do with cats.
Provide a small comfortable “nest” for your cat in a private area with a warm blanket, so they can hide when they need to. One woman’s cat will go up to her loft bed and crawl under the blanket to hide from everyone to sleep. Her cat gets the added benefit of warmth in addition to hiding.
Cats Become Overstimulated Sometimes
In a busy household with small children, tense situations, and people leaving and returning multiple times per day, cats can tend to feel the chaos and become stressed as a result. While they will gravitate towards you when stressed and needing cuddle time, they might also shrink away and hide for a while due to being overstimulated.
Cats can sometimes get pet too much and will hiss or react violently, called “petting-induced aggression.” The aggression comes from being overstimulated. If cat parents don’t understand this type of communication, they will create a situation where a cat needs to hide and get some alone time.
Other situations where cats need alone time are when they have a conflict with another cat or their human companions. Cats don’t like conflict, as the tense stimulation is too stressful, and they need to recover for a short time. If your cat hides more often than you think is healthy, you may need to limit the number of stressful interactions or chaos in your home, if possible.
Rescue Cats Might Need More Alone Time
When you rescue a cat from a shelter or the side of the road, they are used to being alone without answering to anyone. And while you might think that rescue cats would be grateful to have a new home and want to spend all their waking moments with you. Due to their past lives, rescue cats sometimes have a difficult time fitting into a new home.
For that reason, if you’ve recently adopted a rescue cat, you will need to introduce the new cat to your home slowly and let it have some alone time when needed. When your new cat goes into hiding, it means nothing against you, but only that it needs to recuperate from stressful situations.
Cats Are Naturally Solitary Creatures
It’s true that cats are not natural pack creatures and that they value their solitary times. Most of the time, cats are happy to either be by themselves or with other cats or humans. But there are times when a cat needs time alone away from everyone.
Instead of trying to coax your cat out of hiding, you might want to provide natural hiding spaces for your feline buddy, such in a closet, under your bed, or behind a couch or recliner. Place a blanket or a box in an out of the way area. You can also buy and set up cat tunnels in a private room that your cat can use.
But create some social time where your cat chooses to be with you and play with you. Find some fun toys it likes and entice your cat to come out.
Cats Still Need Your Companionship
While cats sometimes need alone time and will hide for several hours at a time, they still need your companionship. If you are at work or school all day, your cat will already have had a long time alone and will be ready for your time and attention.
Kittens need more socializing than adult cats, so if you are gone longer than eight hours for a six-month-old kitten, try to have someone look in on your buddy.
Cats Become Lonely After a While
On the other hand, if cats are left alone for too long, they become lonely, depressed, and anxious. Your cat does need some alone time per day, but they want to know that you’re there to care for them and love them. Going on a vacation for a week or more while leaving your cat alone at home can cause severe trauma to your cat, especially if they run out of food before you get back.
Cats are like humans in that they need alone time now and then, but they will get lonely if left alone for very long. Signs they have been left alone too long include:
- Your cat demands more of your attention than usual.
- The cat has many more aggressive tendencies than usual, especially if your cat is usually easy to get along with.
- Your cat grooms itself much more than it would otherwise.
- Your cat is urinating outside the litter box or on your things.
When your cat needs you, it will look for you and demand attention. Please don’t ignore your cat when it wants attention.
Stick to Your Same Routine for Your Cat’s Sanity
Your cat often hides due to the stress and chaos from not having a set routine for meals or snacks. They are creatures of habit and need to rely on a set routine to stay sane. If your schedule is not very stable, and you feed your cat early one day, then late the next, it makes your cat go a little nuts. The stress can cause your cat to go into hiding and become anxious.
If your cat hides too often, it might be that you need to have a consistent routine for mealtimes, litter box cleaning, medication, and other things your cat needs.
If your cat hides more often than you think is normal, there probably isn’t too much to be concerned about, as it is within the range of normal cat behavior. The only time you might want to be concerned about how often and how long your cat hides is when this behavior is combined with other disturbing behaviors such as:
- Excessive grooming
- Clingy behavior
- Aggressive behavior
- Going outside of the litter box
Cats who display other behaviors besides excessive hiding are more than likely depressed or ill. To be sure, take your friend to the vet to rule out any infections.
- Catster: Does Your Cat Ever Need Quiet Time Alone?
- Pet Cube: How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone: Problems, Tips, Solutions
- Pet Central: Do Cats Get Lonely If Left Home Alone All Day?
- Purina One: How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?
- Elite Daily: Do Cats Get Lonely if Left Alone? Experts Say They Don’t Miss You as Much as You Miss Them
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.