How Much Food Should I Leave Out For My Cat When I Go On Vacation

Cats are often stereotyped as “independent” and some people adopt cats because “they can take care of themselves.” This just isn’t true. They depend on us to for food, shelter, medical care and love.

Oftentimes, people will say that they are going on vacation and leaving their cat(s) at home with “plenty of food and water.” The truth is, cat owners have no idea how their cat(s) behave and/or how they feel while they’re away. Many cats have deep attachments to their humans and will become depressed or stressed when the owner’s schedule changes.  Whether an owner’s absence is just for a day – or an extended period of time – the cat is sure to notice.

Binge Eating & Stress

One owner who went on vacation for a week proudly exclaimed that she got home “just in time” as her cat had just finished the food that she left out for him. Unfortunately, her cat may have finished the food three days ago. Some cats have been known to binge eat when they’re stressed. So leaving 7 days worth of food may ultimately be consumed in a day or two. And if that happens, the cat will go hungry for days and the owner would never know.

The best solution is to have a pet sitter or trusted person stop by the home at least daily to make sure the cat(s) have plenty of food and fresh water. A petsitter will also ensure that the cats’ litter boxes are clean. Cats that are left to contend with dirty litter boxes may decide to go somewhere else in the house that is cleaner than their litter box (the floor, the plant, your favorite rug, etc).


How much food should I leave out for my cat?

The answer is, cat owners shouldn’t leave their cat alone for an extended period of time (more than a day) unless the owner knows definitively that their cat isn’t going to get stressed and eat all of their food in one day. If leaving multiple cats, it’s all the more reason to have a pet sitter or trusted and reliable person stop by every day to check on the cats.

What about automatic feeders?

If for whatever reason it isn’t possible to have someone stop by daily, definitely invest in automatic feeders and a water fountain. Note that if there are multiple cats in the house, the same issues may arise with one cat eating all of the food and the others not getting their share.

Ultimately, having a pet sitter or trusted person stop over is the best way to ensure that kitty has fresh food and water each day. It also provides peace of mind that should your curious cat get into any trouble or become sick while you’re away, they will have an advocate that can speak for them if they need help.

What do you do when you go on vacation or need to take a trip? Sound off in the comments or on social media.

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  1. L Peyto

    No responsible cat owner would go away and leave a cat alone for days/weeks. If you must go away, arrange for someone to take and care for your cat, a friend or a cattery. To leave a cat alone is cruel and uncaring.

  2. Sue

    we go camping and can not take my kitty because he is old and gets very stressed riding in a vehicle. i have my dad come to the house and make sure he is alright, pet him and plenty hugs, fresh water and checks the food. Although we are only gone 2 days, i always make sure my baby boy is taken care of..he is older and want to make sure all is good…he is my lil angel.

  3. Heather Fisher

    As a partially handicapped person, I find it difficult to have a cat on a permanent basis, so I cat sit. I live in a condo and everyone knows I love kitties. I have my house set up for visitors with a litter box, scratch post and basket in front of the fireplace. So anyone going away can leave their kitty with me and I care for them. My usual visitor is about 10 days to two weeks. Longest was for two months (sister went to NZ). Check with your neighbours.

  4. Bruce Howell

    Great information. Thank you for sharing. We normally have a friend come over and feed Sophia and take care of the litter box but just in case, this is good to know. Thank you.


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