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We have 3 cats who have been part of the same household for several years and are all friends. Age 10, 6 and 6 (the two 6 year olds are litter mates who we have had since they were kittens)

We sometimes take overnight trips at the weekend i.e. leave late morning Saturday, stay somewhere overnight, return Sunday afternoon/early evening

  • the cats have "more than enough" food and water left for them during this time
  • we have security cameras covering inside the house so can keep an eye on them (and could abandon the trip and return early if anything was wrong - it's just recreational trips, or call our neighbour to drop in on the house) (For various reasons I don't want to impose on the neighbour to make regular visits unless we have to)
  • cats have been fine with this and act normally when we get back
  • litter boxes are cleaned out just before we go
  • cats have outdoor access but usually spend most of their time asleep in the house
  • they do not take any medication etc

My question is whether they could be left on this basis for a 2-night trip e.g. leaving lunchtime Saturday, staying somewhere overnight Saturday and Sunday then returning lunchtime Monday?

My biggest fear is that they will 'give up' on the idea of us returning and run away somehow. I'm hoping that our overnight trips reinforce the idea that "the humans do come back!" but I'm not sure if cats think like that.

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My biggest fear is that they will 'give up' on the idea of us returning and run away somehow.

We have 3 cats, all rescues. One of them we picked up off the street at a young age, the other two were living in a prison, when captured were taken to several foster homes, and eventually ended up being adopted by us.

Last year, we took a 6 week trip to the other side of the world. I specifically chose to hire a catsitter so the cats could stay in our house. I feared that if we were to take them someplace else, they (especially the prison cats) would basically assume that we were just a transit station just like their foster homes. It took a lot of time and effort to build a relationship with the cats and I didn't want that to be undone.

I'm hoping that our overnight trips reinforce the idea that "the humans do come back!" but I'm not sure if cats think like that.

I had the quirky idea to always come back with a bounty. After our 6 week trip, I came back with several fish, which I gave to them. The idea was to suggest to them that we are only absent when we are "hunting for food", and that message seems to have gotten across.

Every time we both spend at least one night away, we bring back some sort of bounty for them. You can see the excitement when we get back (compared to coming back from a normal work day).

cats have outdoor access but usually spend most of their time asleep in the house

This is the one difference, as we don't (yet) let our cats out. However, I don't particularly think that 48hrs is anywhere near enough for them to forget about their home. Going away for 6 weeks, with cats that had been living with us for less than 6 months, that's a different story. But you're not gone long enough for them to actually reconsider their housing situation.

To put it differently: if your cats were inclined to "move out" that quickly, then you probably would already be dealing with cats who don't always come home even when you're home.

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It sounds like you really ensure the best care for your cats. It's safe to say they would be more than fine alone for two nights.

Just give them enough food, extra water, and clean litter. Water is key, a cat can live without food for a long time - I always leave the toilet lid open for a large source of water just in case. I would maybe just suggest closing them from the outdoors to reduce any fear of them running away for your own ease of mine (your enjoyment on your trip is important too!) But, honestly, cats are independent creatures. They love you, I'm sure, but... they're cats ;)

As an example - I have two kitties, 3 years old, and they've always done well when I'm gone. Once I left my key with a friend to check on my cats every other day while I was gone, but he was for some reason unable to ever unlock my door (I had no cell connection). I had not prepped the cats with extra food assuming they'd be fed. They were alone for 3 nights and were understandably hungry and extra affectionate (for about 5 mins) when I returned home, but happy to see me as always, as if I'd just returned home from work for the day.

Plus, You'll have an extra wonderful cuddle time post trip to help relax! :D

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    I'd also suggest restricting outdoor access as well, both for your peace of mind, and the safety of the cats. It also makes it easier to check up on them with the security cameras. – Stig Tore Feb 21 at 10:45
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Honestly that depends completely upon how the cats have been brought up by you from kitten to adulthood.

By nature cats are independent animals. They are solitary animals. They like to be left alone. They also don't need the company of other cats. In fact in nature, cats are territorial and when one cat crosses into the territory of another cat, fight breaks out.

Moreover, cats domesticated themselves. When we became farmers in ancient times and settled down, we stored our grains for future use. The rats started to come to eat the grains. And the cats came to eat the rats. So there started a mutually beneficial relationship.

Long time passed and slowly cats started to get domesticated. They started to have fondness for humans and more tolerance towards each other.

And then started the phenomenon of cats taking birth in human homes, with no exposure to nature. And such cat's behavior is bound to be much different from their distant wild cousins.

So, now coming back to your cats, their behavior completely depends upon whether they were born in human house and grew up with humans or they are rescue cats and later adopted by humans, irrespective of the love and care they are currently getting.

Also cats don't fight doesn't necessarily means that they are friends. It can very easily mean that they just get along. They get access to food, water and clean litter box. So they know that if they get along, it is beneficial for them.

If the cats sit or sleep side by side, even being adult they play with each other, they groom each other, these are the signs that they are friends, and not just getting along.

Now coming back to your question, cats have excellent memory, they mark their territory well and they will never get lost.

So, if they are with humans since kittens, they don't have much idea about outside. So other than satisfying their curiosity, they will mostly stay home, eagerly waiting for you. And since there is enough food, water and clean litter box, you need not worry. As they have little idea about outside, they will be always wary of outside and will be never eager to leave the comfort of home.

And, if they are rescue cats, they will always spend some of their time outside, as they have grown up being completely aware of the whereabouts of outside. They will show little willingness to always stay at home. But as I said that cats have excellent memory, they mark their territory and never loose their way, they will always come back. It is because they know that at home they have abundant supply of food and water which is not there outside.

So either way you are not going to loose your cat.

The only cause of worry may be how safe is your outside. If you live at rural region, then are their wild animals outside, and if you live at urban area then is their dangerous vehicular traffic outside.

Good Luck!

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