If you have a cat, traveling might be a problem, no matter if you’re gone for just a couple of days or the whole summer. Not knowing what to do with your cat while on vacation may even become a reason for you to cancel your plans altogether. But it shouldn’t be that way.
In this article, you are going to learn about what to do with your cat while you are on vacation, as well as how long you can leave your cat alone and whether it is okay to take your cat with you.
Luckily, there are many options for leaving a cat while on vacation. Which to choose depends on several things. Does your cat crave company? Is he an indoor or an outdoor cat? Has he (successfully) adapted to new surroundings before? Does your cat become stressed in your absence? Is there a good place for your cat to stay? How many cats do you have? Do you have other pets and do they get along with each other or not?
Leaving your cat at home
One of the most common and, in our opinion, the most reasonable options is to leave your cat at home and have someone come to visit daily.
The advantages of having your cat stay at home during your vacation are numerous. Your cat’s stress levels will be reduced if he is able to stay at home. You won’t have to worry about how and when to take your cat to another place. Finally, the person taking care of your cat may also be willing to look after the house – watering plants and feeding your fish, for example.
So, how do you find someone to take care of your cat?
Many people ask us how long it’s okay to leave a cat alone at home. Most sources say that overnight is the maximum, which is reasonable. We recommend that you find someone to take care of your cat if you are going leave him at home for longer than 24 hours. For a cat, fasting for more than a single day will not only reduce his weight, but may also have a serious impact on his overall health.
In other words, you need to find someone who can come to your house at least daily while you are away – and twice daily is preferable. Sure, an electronic cat feeder might be able to dispense food appropriately to your cat, but you’ll still want someone to check if the feeder is working. There are plenty of other tasks to perform as well, such as refilling the water bowl, cleaning the litter box, and playing with, talking to, and simply supervising your cat, in case something unexpected happens.
Should you choose a friend or a professional pet-sitter? There is no single answer. For the cat, it’s a game-changer if the person is not a stranger; they will be less wary of the visitor. On the other hand, a professional pet sitter knows the job inside out and is highly likely to have some understanding of feline behavior.
Whoever you choose, make sure the carer knows about all your cat’s habits. For example, some cats will not eat if the bowl is half empty. Some refuse to go in the litter box if it has already been used. Some love to hear classical music in the morning and jazz after dinner. Knowing these tiny details may save a lot of trouble for everyone!
The absence of an owner is a common cause of stress in cats. Make sure the carer pays close attention to your cat’s water intake, food consumption, and litter box usage. We recently took care of our friends’ cat during their holidays and he refused to eat at all for the first few days. This was extremely worrying. We managed to solve the problem by serving fresh, nice-smelling meat to the cat. In different cases, other solutions might be needed – this is why having someone who knows about cats is an advantage.
Sending your cat to a friend or relative during your vacation
Is your cat okay with moving to another place? Then sending a cat to grandma’s house may be just the right solution.
The advantages of sending your cat to a friend or relative’s house is that your cat will get constant supervision and, of course, more attention. The downside is that it’s not easy to find someone who is willing to accommodate cats, especially if you have more than one. In certain cases, too, the cat may experience greater stress than he would if he was left at home.
To lower potential stress levels, you could send your cat to its temporary home a few days prior to your departure and check how things are going. Then, if something is not right, you still have some time to figure out a Plan B. If your friend has other pets, it is crucial to know if they can get along with your cat, and this approach may be a good solution.
Remember, don’t push catsitting on people so that they can’t refuse, saying something like “umm…okay, I’ll try…but you owe me!” First, you are risking ruining your friendship with them and, second (more importantly), they might not care for your cat in the best way. Find someone who loves pets and is happy to do it.
Take your cat to a pet hotel
While we normally think of pet hotels as more of a “dog thing,” more and more pet hotels are accommodating cats successfully during their owners’ absence.
Of course, a pet hotel will be a totally unknown place for your cat, unless you travel regularly. Cats do not cope very well with unknown places, people, and situations, which is worth bearing in mind.
On the other hand, pet hotels make a big effort to create a calm and cat-friendly environment. Besides, pet hotel personnel are professionals – at least, they should be. They can give constant, competent care to your cat. They won’t fail to notice if the cat is not eating or has any health problems, and they won’t let anything bad happen to your cat during his stay at the hotel. It’s their job and they know what to look out for.
Take your cat with you
The final option is to take your cat with you. But, to be honest, it’s not a very feasible option in most cases.
Actually, it is okay to take a cat away with you in exeptional circumstances, such as the following:
1) if your cat has been used to traveling since kittenhood, 2) if you are staying in the same location for most of your vacation, or 3) if the destination will provide a welcoming environment for your cat (of course, you will have to check if your accommodation allow pets in the first place).
As you can see from the above, not knowing what to do with your cat shouldn’t be a reason for canceling your vacation. There are enough options for accommodating your cat during your absence and, if everything else fails, you might even be able to take your cat with you.
We ourselves are very lucky that most of our relatives love pets and are happy to look after our three cats and our dog. We find that the best solution for us is to have someone come to the house frequently, whereas in the past, when we only had one cat, the most convenient solution was to send her over to our relatives’ places. You have options: the choice is yours.
Photos by Benimoto, West Zest, elderleaf