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I love cats, I also work a full time job and am in the office from 11 AM till 9 PM.

I would like to get a cat, but am afraid that my absence for majority of the daytime will be a problem.

Are there problems that arise from being away from home for 10 or so hours a day when having a cat as a pet? Is there anything I can do to minimize the problems, or is it just better if I didn't get a cat for a pet?

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The short answer: "Yes"

The longer version: cats are generally pretty independent creatures, but they do miss their humans especially if we're not at home during the day. If you have just one cat, be prepared to be met with demands for attention, playing, and a great deal of petting when you are home. This will be strongest after you get the cat, because it won't be sure that you're coming back until gets used to your work routine.

Some of the things you can do to help are:

  • get two cats (preferably littermates). This way the cats have each other for company while you're at work. The downside is that you'll need to deal with twice as much kitty litter (at least), twice as much cat food, and twice as much mess!
  • make sure there are plenty of cat toys for your cat(s).
  • make sure the cat toys include things your cat(s) can destroy. It's much better that they destroy a cat toy than your furniture.
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  • I would add that it varies a lot with the personality of the cat. I have had some that seemed to PREFER I was gone all the time, and others that would poop in conspicuous places as a signal that it wasn't happy about the situation. – JohnFx Jan 29 '14 at 1:17
  • @JohnFx - it does vary quite a lot, but this isn't something you find out until after you get the cat! Breeds that tend to bond strongly with their human are more likely to have issues than other cats, and a new cat is going to be much more needy until it gets used to the situation - which can be an issue when adopting an adult rescue. – Kate Paulk Jan 29 '14 at 12:08
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    When I had this question many years ago I received, and followed, the "get two littermates" advice, and it worked out very well. Yes there are increased costs (food, vet, etc), but in terms of ease two are about as easy as one (you've gotta scoop either way, etc), and they kept each other company during the day and didn't destroy the house. Eventually, of course, one of them dies before the other, but a single elderly cat is different from a single young cat. – Monica Cellio Jan 31 '14 at 20:14
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    There is also the option of taking in an older cat that likes being left alone anyway. Shelters can often help there, finding the cat that matches your personality and lifestyle! – Layna Feb 3 '17 at 13:44
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    There's some happy rescues : - two adult cats who are very close - an old cat – Phnix Feb 3 '17 at 15:38
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Know that it will likely take time for the cat to adjust to whatever your routine is. I know that when I shifted from being home a lot to working/being on campus for school more, my cat took some time to adjust. He meowed more and worked harder to get my attention when I was home, until we both got used to the new schedule. Some cats might express this by other unpleasant behaviours - I had a cat growing up that, after my family came home from a week of camping (where a neighbour would stop in and care for the cats), would express his displeasure at us being gone by pooping on the first bed he could find once he saw we were home.

Right now, I am unemployed, so I am home all the time, but there have been many days in the past where my cat was home alone from 9 am until 10 pm, or even overnight.

To make sure my cat doesn't get bored or lonely, I first make sure he will have enough to eat and drink while I am gone. Then I try to find ways to make home more exciting. For my cat, he likes hunting, so I hide treats in things all over the house (in bags or boxes, in toys he can get them out of, in windowsills, etc.). I also make sure he has lots of other things to play with.

He also has a number of things he can scratch on, like his climbing tree, and a few cardboard scratching things around the house. Also, I have sometimes suspended a hanging toy from a doorframe - high enough he can reach it, but not low enough he can get tangled in it. (Might just be a personal worry, though.)

Having another cat in the house is sometimes helpful, but I know that can also add cost and such, so it might not be viable. I have also seen houses where they get two cats for that reason, and then the cats fight so much they have to separate them, so it is something you want to be careful of. Getting cats that are from the same litter or who have grown up together might make that easier.

Some cats adjust well to the situation, and might not even seem to notice or care that you are gone. Mine seems to, because he knows if I come home after being gone all day, he usually gets treats, so he has associated the door opening and my footsteps with that. So he comes for the treats, at least. No idea if he misses me, or just likes the treat part.

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