Cats are rarely taken on vacation for obvious reasons. But you might find the occasional “vacationing cat” on your travels. Yes, it’s possible, but it’s not common. Most cats don’t enjoy traveling, let alone a change of scenery, and are therefore best left at home. So, what are your best options for leaving your cat behind? We’ve compiled a shortlist: These dos and don’ts offer guidance to consider when deciding whether or not to bring your cat with you on your summer break.
The best thing for your cat would be to leave them at home, where they feel safe and surrounded by reassuring spatial references. If your trip is short, ask friends or relatives to visit a couple of times a day to serve fresh food and water, empty the litter box, and cuddle and play with your cat. If no one is available, another option would be to hire a professional cat sitter. However, always be diligent and choose a pet sitter with reliable references. Your vet and local shelters are good places to get recommendations for cat sitters. There are also plenty of Facebook Groups that share information on professional cat sitters. Once you’ve found your ideal cat sitter, you should communicate the following information and expectations:
General requirements for the cat sitter:
- How often should they come
- How much time should they spend with the cat
- How often should they clean the cat litter box
Characteristics the pet sitter should know about your cat:
Are they afraid of loud noises?
Where do they like to hide?
How do they take care of their coat, nails and ears?
Where do they like to be stroked?
Where don’t they like to be stroked?
Do they have any allergies/ illnesses or other specific requirements?
Are there any places in the home that are off-limits?
Then you can start to prepare the rest:
Organize a short introduction between the cat and the sitter
Buy and provide the usual food and cat litter in sufficient quantities
Place feeding bowls in the coolest room of the apartment
Fill the water bowl completely so the sitter can check if your cat has been drinking water
Deposit a spare key with neighbors, friends or family
Tell a befriended neighbor that someone is taking care of the cat
Arrange regular visits by neighbors/friends/family
Arrange an emergency contact in case the cat sitter fails to turn up
Be reachable while on vacation
Cat-proof your home
Cats can get sick, sneak out of the door, fall out the window or fail to return from a walk. A pet sitter should have emergency contacts at the ready in any of these unfortunate circumstances.
To play it safe, you should:
Provide contact addresses for emergencies, including your veterinarian with their opening times, friends, family, neighbors
Leave any vaccination certificates and proof of registration in an obvious spot
If the animal is not registered: provide the telephone number of the local animal police/animal ambulance/animal shelter
Leave the cat with a sitter
Another option is to leave the cat at the sitter’s house. The cat will need to get accustomed to the new surroundings but she’ll have more human contact that way. This is a great option for cats that don’t mind leaving their home. Just make sure to organize a few test runs, making sure everyone gets along with the situation. If you choose this option, make sure to take some familiar objects such as blankets, baskets, toys and their own cat tree, this will create familiar smells and help to settle the cat.
Just a few precautions for the last choice:
Write down an agreement for any occurring costs or damages: when the cat explores the new environment, she may start behaving differently and do things she never does at home. Think of scratching the furniture, pushing objects from shelves, peeing on the carpet or using plants as toys
Make sure the new environment is safe for the cat.
Cat Hotel/Cat Guesthouse
You could consider taking your cat to a pet boarder if you have no other choice; either ask your vet if he/she knows any suitable establishments or start visiting local boarders, yourself, to see which will suit your feline the best.
Our advice is to exclude mixed facilities, housing both cats and dogs, or at the very least, select one in which the areas for cats are distant from to those dedicated to dogs because the noise of the dogs could be stressful to your feline friend. Also, pens are preferable to individual boxes. Either way, your cat should have a dedicated room so it is not forced to share with other cats. Even the size of the box is important: avoid facilities where the cat is locked in a small cage.
Remember to check that your cat’s vaccinations and anti-flea treatments are up to date and to bring your cat’s health card with the contact details of your pet’s regular vet with you so that if there are any problems he/ she can be contacted easily. If the boarder doesn’t require any of the health details, avoid the facility.
Many cat-boarding facilities also allow you to bring your cat’s personal belongings with them to make them feel more comfortable and at home in their holiday home away from home. They will thank you for it.