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I have a cat, a dog and a bird.

I need to go away overnight.

What can I do to ensure my cat, dog and bird have enough fresh water and food to survive overnight?

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    The answer to the current question, as edited, is that it is never safe to leave a cat unsupervised in a house with a bird. Oct 24 '13 at 14:53
  • Leaving the three together: depends on the individuals. If my brother left his cat alone with the uncaged military macaw, the cat is the one i'd worry about. I have a friend who had a dog that had a pet cat -- as in, the cat usually smelled of dog drool from being carried around and licked so often, and the car very clearly considered the dog preferred company and the human an adequate second choice. Even if they don't get along perfectly, as long as the cat has places to retreat to out of the dog's reach and the bird's cage is somewhere that the cat can't access, it ought to be workable.
    – keshlam
    May 2 '15 at 0:36
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Well, since there are answers for dogs and birds, I'll tackle cats. This answer is based on personal experience, as advised by vets in the past.

Healthy adult cats can generally be left alone for a day or even two. Some specific issues:

Water: Make sure they have plenty of water available. Putting out an extra bowl is a good idea, just in case one gets spilled or soiled somehow.

Food: dry food can generally be left out for a couple days. If your cats already free-feed, then just fill up the bowl(s). If you restrict their food, then either give that up for a day or you can use a dispenser with a timer to regulate the feeding. (Note: I just picked that product out of a long list of options; my own cats free-feed so I haven't used such a device.) If you use a timed dispenser, be sure to do a trial run before your trip to make sure there's nothing about it that would make your cats reluctant to use it. (Devices with mechanized parts or that make noise can weird some cats out, so make sure yours don't mind before you leave.)

Canned food gets unpleasant after a few hours, so I wouldn't try that in a timed dispenser. If you fill up a bowl with it your cats might eat it all at once (and stand a chance of vomiting it up later). For a short absence I find it's better to just skip the canned food. If your cats primarily eat canned food, this means you'll need to transition them to more dry food before leaving. Don't just shock them with a food change.

Litter box: If you scoop the box once a day, then scooping right before you leave for an overnight absence should be enough. If you scoop twice a day, or if your cats are particularly fastidious, put out an extra box.

General safety: You already probably leave them alone for long stretches while you're away at work/school/etc; an overnight absence isn't much longer than that. I've found that the general precautions I would take for my house (lights, temperature regulation) are enough for the cats too.

As I said at the beginning, this is for healthy cats who don't require any special care. If your cats are on any medications, or are particularly frail, or are overly needy (separation anxiety?), then you may need to arrange for somebody to come in while you're gone. In extreme cases, you may need to either have someone sleep at your place or take your cats to someone else's house, as I did for my elderly cats with complicated medical issues. (It's better if you can avoid displacing the cats.) For kittens I would definitely have somebody come in a couple times a day, because (a) they can get into more trouble and (b) people-time is more important during their formative years.

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I can't speak specifically for the cat and the bird, but based on my limited knowledge, they should be ok as long as they have sufficient food and water, and access to their respective toilet facilities.

The dog however, needs to be managed separately.

  1. Food - you should not leave food out all the time for a dog. They need designated feeding times, otherwise they will generally gorge themselves. This is an instinctual behavior as wolves generally could go days between meals so it was necessary to ensure they have adequate energy in case the next kill was many days away.
  2. Exercise - unless you have a large house or a very small dog, it is unlikely they will get enough exercise to be left alone for an extended time. They need access to the outside to be able to keep themselves fit and to keep them from being destructive
  3. Bathroom - if your dog is paper trained, this is less of a short term concern, but typically, dogs need to relieve themselves frequently. When you are home, you will often put them out right before bedtime and then again first thing in the morning.

If you are gone only for a few hours (just overnight) so he will not miss any meals or be forced to wait to "do his business" then you should be able to manage. But if you will be gone longer than 6-8 hours, it might be necessary to bring the dog with you, or have someone check in to let him out and possibly feed him.

Depending on the dog, leaving him outdoors might be an option to handle the bathroom problem, but unless he is allowed to roam free in a fenced yard, then it will not solve the exercise issue (and even then I would be uncomfortable leaving a dog outside unchained in only a fenced yard as many dogs are smart enough to figure their way out if they want). And this will not solve the food problem, you'll still need to be back in time to feed him or have someone feed him.

But ultimately unless it is an outdoor dog (one that is kept outside all the time), then leaving him alone on his own is not recommended. He will either be barking or will be very uncomfortable and stressed at the forced confinement in an unfamiliar situation. And theft of the animal becomes a concern here as well.

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Answering in regards to a bird, generally it should be okay (physically) to leave them alone for 24 hours as long as they have a full bowl of food and water. They only eat when they are hungry and they will never drink all of the water before it becomes disgusting.

Many birds will dunk their food in their water bowl to soften it up, which will make it quite disgusting overtime, but it won't hurt them if they drink it like that for a little while. Don't let them go too long without fresh water though because overtime they can develop a crop infection if they have dirty bowls.

Other things to pay attention to with your birds is if they have a habit of defecating in their water bowls or if they bath in their water bowls occasionally. If they do either of these things it is best to change their water immediately as even them dunking their feet in the water can contaminate it with feces. If they do neither of these things then they should be fine for the better part of a day and night without immediate care (Disregarding if they are emotionally accepting of being alone for long periods).