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Home > Cats > How to Care for a Cat While Working Full Time (6 Helpful Tips)

How to Care for a Cat While Working Full Time (6 Helpful Tips)

close up of cat with long whiskers looking at the camera

Many people face a dilemma in today’s modern world. They want to have a pet (or pets) like a cat or dog, but they also need to work all day. This tension can be frustrating to manage. People need to work to make money to be able to afford a pet, but it can sometimes feel bad to leave your pet home alone all day while you are on the clock. The good news is you can absolutely take care of a cat even if you work full time or log long hours. Cats are pretty easy to take care of, even if you are not home. You just need to know what you are doing.

This guide will run through everything you need to consider to take care of a cat, even if you work full time.


The 6 Tips to Care for Your Cat While Working Full Time

1. Build a Routine

All pets, including cats, benefit greatly from a routine. If you are going to leave your cat home during the day when you are at work, be sure that you have a routine in place. A routine will help a cat feel more comfortable about what is going on. It will also give cues as to what the day is going to look like. If you leave for work at the same time every morning, try to feed your cat at the same time before you go. Scoop the litter box at the same time. Feed them dinner at the same time when you get home. A routine will help you stay organized (so you don’t accidentally forget to feed them) and will give both you and your cat peace of mind.

2. Make Sure the Litter Box Is Squared Away

young woman cleaning the litter box of her cat
Image By: sandyman, Shutterstock

Leaving your cat with easy access to a proper litter box is important. More than that, you need to make sure that the litter box is clean every day before you leave for work and that your cat actually likes the litter box you have provided. If you leave your cat with a dirty litter box, an unpopular litter box, or a hard-to-reach litter box, they might start doing their business outside of the box, which can be frustrating. Furthermore, when you are not home to catch them relieving themselves outside the litter box, correcting the behavior can be hard.

If your cat starts making messes around the house when you are not home, it can be very difficult to see to try and stop it. The behavior can then become more ingrained and harder to reverse. For those reasons, it is imperative that you have a good litter box situation for your cat before you leave them alone all day.

3. Make Sure Your Cat Has Plenty of Food and Water

Another thing to be aware of when you are not home much during the week is your cat’s food and water. You do not need to leave 24/7 access to food if you do not want to, but you should always leave fresh, clean water out for your cat to drink. If you are not going to free feed your cat during the day, make sure to give them a proper breakfast before you leave in the morning and give them a good dinner when you get home.

If your cat is running out of water during the day, you should provide more water in the future. Some people like to leave a simple bowl of water out, but this might not be enough if you are gone for long periods of time. The cat should always have water if they want it. If your cat is spilling their water and making a mess, you should look into getting a more robust automatic waterer that they cannot knock over and spill.

4. Provide Toys and Scratchers

gray tabby cat on the floor with its toys
Image By: Noor Khalafy, Pexels

If your cat spends long hours alone during the day, they might get bored. Be sure to leave your cat with toys and scratchers to interact with when you are not home to play with them. If you do not provide a scratcher for your cat, you might be frustrated to learn that your cat has been scratching your furniture, shoes, or walls when you are not looking.

A cat scratcher, like the Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher, offers daily entertainment for your furry friend. This durable cardboard scratcher not only looks stylish but is also adjustable to three positions – high, low, and lower – ensuring your cat stays engaged and amused, helping to prevent them from getting into trouble or scratching things they shouldn't. 

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It is also a good idea to spend some time trying out toys with your cat to find out what they like. You also want to experiment with different types of scratchers (pads, towers, or posts) and ensure that your cat will actually use them to scratch. Sometimes cats get bursts of intense energy during the day, and you want to provide them a safe and fun outlet for this energy even if you are not there to witness it.

5. Provide a Place to Nap and Relax

Cats like to sleep for long periods during the day, so make sure you provide a comfortable place for them to relax. You don’t necessarily need to buy a cat condo or tower. Sometimes it can be as simple as leaving the door to a guest room open so the cat can access a bed to sleep on. Make a note of where your cat likes to sleep during the day when you are home and be sure to leave access to this place when you are at work. This will help your cat be able to unwind even when you are not around. If you close certain doors before you go to work and section off parts of the house, it can stress your cat out.

6. Pay Attention to Your Cat’s Health and Behavior

It can be more difficult to tell if your cat is sick or stressed when you are at work. Also, if you only see your cat briefly in the morning and at night when they are awake, it can be hard to tell if they are feeling unwell. When you are home, make sure that your cat is eating and drinking properly. Make sure they are doing their business in the litter box like normal. Look for any signs of stress, lethargy, or skin issues. It can be common to accidentally miss some signs of illness in pets if you work all day because you are not getting large sample sizes of their regular daytime behavior. If you are worried about your cat’s health or behavior don’t hesitate to bring them to your veterinarian and ask some questions about your normal weekly routine in regard to your feline friend.

a sick cat lying on the couch
Image By: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock


Can You Get a Kitten If You Work Full Time?

No. You should not get a kitten or a very young cat if you work full time. Kittens require a lot more time and attention than adult cats. Kittens need to be fed more frequently than full grown cats. They also need litter box training, socialization, and guided exploration time. Kittens should be supervised when they are very young, and it is not a good idea to leave them alone all day when you are at work. If you have your heart set on getting a kitten, you need to make a plan to care for the kitten until it is old enough to take care of itself during the day.

It is advised that kittens stay with their mothers for at least 12 to 14 weeks of age. Some people try to wean kittens and sell them as young as 6 to 8 weeks old. If you get one of these very young kittens, you will need to keep them supervised until they are at least 14 weeks old.



The key to caring for a cat while you work full time is leaving them access to everything they need during the day. They need food, water, a clean litter box, a place to unwind, and something to play with and scratch on. As long as you keep all of these needs fulfilled while you are out of the house, your cat should do just fine. Be sure to keep an eye out for any odd or unusual behaviors and try to build a routine. The results should be very positive, even if you wish you could spend more time with your cuddly cat.

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

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