Cats enjoy routine just as much as dogs do. Consistency on your part reduces their anxiety, meaning feeding times, play time, etc. should remain the same whether you are home or not. I know that a lot of cat owners haven't given much thought to what their cats do during the day when they are off at work, assuming they just snooze the day away; the only time they worry is when their cats stop using the litter box, things are torn up, or fights start occurring in a multi-cat household. Problems can exist, however, even if they aren't that obvious.
First off, cats like fresh food. Leaving a bowl out all day (or for several days) isn't their preference. They like to eat little meals several times a day. Where your cat eats is important too. Even though it may be more convenient for you, their food bowl shouldn't be anywhere near their litter box. And if you have multiple cats, they shouldn't have to share a bowl. Cats have pecking orders too, so having bowls in separate areas eases potential stress between cats. For particularly anxious cats, eating up high makes them feel safer, or in a room with the door closed. While putting food in a bowl works for most cat owners, cats themselves prefer to forage or work for their meals. Putting their food into an interactive puzzle toy allows them to work for their meals when they are hungry and keeps them mentally and physically stimulated. If you are home with your cat, you can play predator/prey games with them before feeding as that, too, is much more realistic for them. So, for example, you can play with a fishing pole lure toy, letting your cat chase that feather around a bit, and then feed them their meal. This simple activity simulates the way cats feed in the wild, they hunt for their food and kill it, before they eat.
Cats that live strictly indoors definitely need to have their environments enriched in order to reduce stress and boredom which can lead to behavior problems and health problems like weight gain. Perches in windows or on walls and shelves are great, as are multiple cat trees with different textures. Placing bird feeders outside windows can keep their interest, as can fish tanks indoors. Cats love to hide, so boxes and paper bags are fun, as well as providing a safe place to nap. While cats obviously groom themselves, many enjoy grooming from their owners. Don't underestimate the power of brushing your cat or using a grooming mitt to solidify your bond. And while it's nice to be able to take your cat outdoors on a leash, many cats view harnesses and leashes as scary torture devices. For cats who can't acclimate to a leash and harness, why not build them an outdoor enclosure? Outdoor enclosures give cats the opportunity to be outdoors, without the dangers of being loose in the neighborhood. The enclosure should include climbing and hiding areas and foraging toys to hunt for their food while outdoors. Adding in edibles like cat grass or catnip are fun as well.
Finally, I've had a couple of clients express concern over their cats aggressively seeking attention now, something they never did when the owners were only home in the evenings after work. Cats are social, some more than others. If your cat is constantly soliciting attention and then getting frustrated and biting or scratching you when they don't get their way, this is something you can fix. Play with your cat and then get them directed to a food puzzle or self-directed game before you begin your work at home. Aim for two to three, 15 minute interactive play sessions with your cat each day to make sure that they are getting enough mental and physical exercise. Rotate their independent toys so that their interest in those items is maintained. And while it's fine to give your cat treats, make sure they are getting those treats for behaviors you'd like to have them repeat like entertaining themselves, and not giving them treats as a distraction that will end up reinforcing their constant attention seeking and potentially lead to weight gain.
As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.
These cat perches allow for the use of vertical space, and varying heights and textures help with physical and mental exercise requirements.