Hotel? Booked. Flights? Booked. Airport parking? Booked. Insurance? Sorted. Cat care? Erm...not quite. It might not be the most exciting part of planning a holiday but finding the right kind of care for your cat is might be the most important part of going away. After all, you’ll be coming home eventually, and you want to preserve to solid bond that you have with your furry friend. Unless you’re bringing your cat with you, finding a comfortable arrangement for your cat’s care is essential.
If you haven’t already figured it out, cats are pretty independent. If your cat could clean its own litter tray, run a tap and buy its own food you’d be made redundant. Staying at home is preferable to these creatures of habit but being home alone leaves your cat vulnerable to any number of disastrous problems that could occur while you’re away. Medical emergencies, fire, flood, electrical failure or just a minor medical problem could occur so it’s vital to have supervision while you’re away.
The easiest and cheapest way to ensure your cat is looked after is to ask a friend or family member to stop by to change their litter tray, feed them and make sure they have water available. But make sure you choose someone who can take the time to ensure your cat’s safety and security. It’s a big ask, but cat lovers are everywhere, and chances are you know one who’s willing and able.
Kitty Sitter's Club
If you would still prefer your cat to stay at home you could employ a pet sitter.
- A pet sitter should be able to administer medication, clean, feed and be observant enough to notice if your cat's eating habits change.
- It is a good idea to obtain references from your pet sitter and meet them in person before you hire them.
- Hire a pet sitter who genuinely cares about your cat's welfare.
- Leave them with written authorisation to take your cat to the vet in case of a medical emergency and inform the vet you’ll take care of the bill when you return.
- Bear in mind that if your cat is used to having company during the day or if the household is usually quite lively it can be an unnerving and anxious experience for your cat to find itself in an empty house, so it’s worth considering a pet sitter who also house sits.
Try to keep a degree of normality and mimic your cat’s regular routine, for example if your cat is usually fed twice a day make sure your chosen carer does the same. Maintaining their routine will help make your cat feel more secure with you gone.
Depending on your cat’s temperament, being in a cage in a strange environment surrounded by unfamiliar sounds, smells, people and other animals can be much more stressful than staying at home alone. For an adopted cat, it can trigger bad memories of shelter living.
All kennels and boarding houses operate differently some are good and some not so good. Ask your vet for any recommendations and make sure you visit the kennel before enrolling your cat there. Look out for:
- How it smells
- How loud it is
- If there are cages facing each other - this can cause unnecessary stress
- How big the cage is - is it big enough so the food bowl isn’t right next to the litter box?
- How interactive are the staff - do they play with, pet or hold the cats?
- How they deal with anxious or scared cats
- If there is a veterinarian on-call for emergencies?
- How is the facility monitored at night
Whatever proves to be the most appropriate care for your cat, separation is never easy and your cat is likely to miss interacting with you. Give them some extra love, attention, and most importantly, treats and toys when you return.
Choosing a good boarding house is very similar to finding the right breeder. Read that article for more guidance on what constitutes a feline-friendly environment.