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What does my cat think when I’m gone?

As a cat owner, you’ve probably wondered what goes through your furry friend’s head when you leave the house every day. Does your cat miss you? Feel sad or abandoned? Or are they simply happy to have the place to themselves? Understanding a cat’s perspective can help strengthen your bond and make your kitty feel more secure.

Why do cats meow when you leave?

One of the most common things cats do when their owner leaves is meow loudly. There are a few possible reasons for this behavior:

  • Separation anxiety. Cats can feel stressed when left alone, just like dogs. The meowing is your cat calling out for you to come back.
  • Boredom. With you gone, your cat has no one to play with or give them attention. The meowing is their way of saying they’re bored and want you to come home.
  • Looking for you. Your cat may walk around meowing to try and find you. They don’t understand that you’ve left temporarily.
  • Reminding you. Some cats learn that meowing brings you back to feed or pet them. So they meow to try and get you to return faster.

If your cat cries persistently when you leave, separation anxiety may be the cause. There are ways to help ease your cat’s distress, like providing interactive toys, leaving the TV or music on for company, and establishing a predictable routine.

Do cats get sad when you’re not home?

Cats can absolutely feel sadness and loneliness when separated from their owners. Here are some signs your cat may be feeling down while you’re gone:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Loss of interest in toys or play
  • Hiding away in unusual spots
  • Excessive meowing or whining
  • Destructive behaviors like knocking things over

Cats form strong social bonds with their human families. When that family member suddenly disappears for hours at a time, it can be distressing. Cats are creatures of habit and feel most secure with predictable routines. Disruptions to their routine, like you going to work every day, can cause anxiety.

Do cats wait by the door for you to return?

It’s common for cats to camp out by the door when their owner is gone. There are several explanations for this behavior:

  • Greeting you. Cats know that humans use doors. Waiting there allows them to say hello the moment you walk in.
  • Escape attempt. Your cat wants to sneak out and explore when you open the door.
  • Boredom. Hanging out by the door breaks up the monotony of the day for an energetic, lonely cat.
  • Missing you. The door is where you disappeared from your cat’s point of view. Waiting there is a sign they want you to come back.

Try leaving a cat tree, toys, or food puzzle by the door to occupy your pet while you’re gone. And be sure to give them plenty of affection when you return home to reassure them.

What do cats do all day home alone?

Cats actually sleep an average of 15 hours a day! Here’s a breakdown of how your cat might spend their day while you’re not around:


  • Groom themselves after waking up
  • Eat breakfast
  • Use litter box
  • Take a nap in a sunbeam
  • Meow or scratch at doors/windows
  • Play with toys and chase dust specks


  • Long nap in favorite sleeping spot
  • Groom fur and paws
  • Snack and use litter box again
  • Watch birds and squirrels outside windows
  • Playtime with more toys or solo hunting games


  • Eat dinner when you get home
  • Cat nap while you’re cooking/cleaning
  • Greet you at the door when you’ve returned
  • Cuddle and playtime with you
  • Relax on your lap or cat tree before bedtime

As you can see, your cat likely alternates between eating, sleeping, playing, and waiting for you throughout the day. Try leaving puzzle feeders, water fountains, and interactive toys to keep them entertained!

Do cats miss their owners when they’re at work?

There’s no doubt that cats absolutely miss their owners when you’re gone all day. Scientists have studied cat attachment bonds extensively, and found evidence that cats form strong social connections with their human caregivers. Here’s why cats miss you when you’re not around:

  • You provide food and affection, two key cat needs.
  • Your scent and presence makes your cat feel secure.
  • You give your cat stimulation through playtime and cuddles.
  • Your cat is used to having you around as part of their routine.

Some signs your cat is missing you while you’re at work include:

  • Meowing or pacing by the door
  • Looking out the windows for you
  • Sleeping on or hiding under your clothing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Being extra clingy when you get home

The good news is there are many things you can do to ease your cat’s separation anxiety while you’re gone, like leaving the radio on and providing interactive puzzle toys. And be sure to spend quality time together when you’re back home.

Do cats understand where you go each day?

While cats are intelligent creatures, most do not comprehend the full scope of where humans disappear to for hours at a time. Here’s what cats likely understand about where you go daily:

  • You grab keys, put on shoes, and leave out the door – this signals you’re going somewhere.
  • You’re gone for a predictable amount of time – they understand your routine.
  • You return later via the door – they recognize this means you’re back.

But the nuances of jobs, work, cars, and buildings are beyond most cats’ comprehension. From their view, you simply vanish behind the door each morning only to reappear later. They don’t understand cars, offices, job duties, etc. Some intelligent cats may recognize names like “work” that you associate with leaving.

Why can’t cats understand where you go?

There are a few key reasons why cats can’t grasp where you go each day:

  • Limited long-term memory – can’t recall detailed info from day to day
  • No concept of jobs, chores, cars, buildings, etc.
  • Poor object permanence – things that leave their sight are “gone”
  • No understanding of human language and vocabulary

So while your cat knows you disappear and come back daily, the full explanation is lost on them. But they definitely recognize your routine and rituals around leaving and returning!

Do cats get bored without their owner?

It’s very common for cats to get bored and lonely when left home alone all day. Without their favorite human around for playtime, cuddles, and interaction, the hours can drag on. Boredom is one reason cats sleep so much during the day – it passes the time until you return.

Signs of a bored cat when you’re not home include:

  • Excessive meowing or whining
  • Trying to sneak outside
  • Knocking things over
  • Chewing houseplants or cords
  • Aggression or irritated behavior
  • Lack of interest in toys

Thankfully, there are many solutions for a bored cat home alone. Here are some ideas to try:

Solution How It Helps
Puzzle feeders Makes getting food take mental & physical effort
Cat trees/perches Gives cats a place to climb and observe from
Interactive toys Keeps cats engaged even when alone
Rotate toys Adds novelty to capture interest
Moving cat videos Entertaining “cat TV” to watch
Catnip Provides recreational enjoyment
Bird/squirrel-watching Outdoor entertainment from windows

What do cats think when you’re on vacation?

Vacations can be distressing for cats since their owner suddenly vanishes for multiple days, disrupting their routine. Here are some things that may go through your cat’s mind when you’re away on vacation:

  • Where did my owner go? When are they coming back?
  • Why have they abandoned me? Are they ever coming home?
  • I’m so bored without them here to play and cuddle
  • My food bowl is empty! I’m hungry!
  • I miss smelling their comforting scent and sleeping in their bed
  • It’s scary here all alone – I feel insecure and anxious

To help your cat while you’re on vacation:

  • Leave them with a trusted family member/pet sitter
  • Have the sitter stick to your cat’s normal routine
  • Leave familiar items with your scent to reassure them
  • Give them stimulating toys to play with
  • Have the sitter send you photo updates
  • Spend extra quality time with kitty when you return

Do cats grieve when their owner goes away?

Cats absolutely feel grief and loss when separated from owners they are attached to. A long absence can be extremely traumatic. Here are some signs of grief in cats:

  • Depression
  • Decreased appetite
  • Excessive vocalizing and searching
  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Hiding away
  • Loss of interest in toys
  • Poor grooming

A cat grieving your absence may experience severe separation anxiety and become very withdrawn. This depression-like state is their way of mourning the loss of their human companion. Make sure to ease back into your normal routines gradually when returning from a long trip away to give your grieving cat time to recover.

Do cats get angry when you leave them alone?

While cats don’t experience complex emotions like spite or anger toward their owners, they can become irritated when frequently left alone. Signs your cat may be upset about your long absences include:

  • Excessive meowing
  • Destructive behaviors like knocking things over
  • Aggression when you return – biting, swatting, scratching
  • Marking territory with urine around the home
  • Hiding away from you when you get home

Cats are not prone to acting out of spite or revenge. But frequent isolation can cause stress, anxiety, boredom and depression. A cat who hisses, swats, or hides when you come home may be struggling with separation issues. Give them extra playtime, affection and mental stimulation when you’re home to help combat boredom and loneliness.

Should I get a second cat so mine has company?

Getting a second cat is not automatically the right solution for a cat who struggles with being alone all day. Here are some pros and cons of getting a feline companion:

Pros Cons
Social interaction while you’re gone Introducing new cats is tricky
Playmate and cuddles Extra costs of second cat
Less boredom/loneliness Territory fights if not compatible
Positive distraction May not get along

Since cats are territorial and introducing new felines takes patience, think carefully before getting a second cat. Try relieving boredom first with toys, cat TV and rotating novel objects in the home. If your cat still seems distressed being alone during the day however, a compatible feline playmate may help provide companionship.


While we can never know for sure everything cats think when we’re gone, we do know they miss us and depend on us for security. By sticking to predictable routines, providing mental stimulation, and spending quality time together when you are home, you can help minimize your cat’s stress during the day. With some planning for their needs and lots of love, your kitty can stay happy and content even while you’re hard at work providing for them!