ATTENTION * CONTENT UNDER REVISION* ATTENTION
This article is currently being reviewed with regards to the vocabulary used. However, the tips suggested can be applied without worry. Only a few very specific notions must be reviewed throughout the site, like territory (we now refer to it as environment), marking, pheromones and other specific concepts that have recently been the object of studies.
You are going on a vacation and you are wondering what would be best for your kitty. First, you need to know that, if cats could choose whether or not to travel, cat travel agencies would have zero customers. Traveling is unknown to cats. As they are very attached to their territory, they prefer to stay quite comfortably where they feel safe, that is, at home, amongst familiar odors, with no disruption of their daily routine. Anyway, don’t you think a cat’s life is worth a lifetime of vacation? Is he not resting regularly? Eating whenever he feels like it and taking a nap whenever he wishes too? If he has spells of playing, hunting or grooming, is it not simply because he feels like it?
The Comfort of Home
Without a doubt, when you travel, it is best for your cat to stay at home. In fact, this option is preferable to the stress that a territorial change would cause (at a trustworthy cat-sitter’s home or in an animal boarding house). He will be happier and less stressed if he stays alone in his territory while a trustworthy person comes daily to clean the litter box and give him fresh water and food. The sitter should also take some time to play with him for a few minutes and make sure he is well. The only exception to the rule would be cats suffering from anxiety and cats that are sick.
Cats do not get lonely like us: they are rather solitary animals who need socialization, not the opposite. They need to socialize with humans, but not excessively. They can bear your absence positively for a short lapse of time. As cats do not perceive time in the same way we do, they do not wonder what they could do while waiting for your return. Cats organize their daily routine according to the activity around the house.
That being said, it does not mean that your cat can stay alone for several weeks. As mentioned before, he needs to socialize and be active. If no one comes to see him, your cat won’t have any stimulation source to get him to be active, which is bad for him.
Some cats suffer from separation anxiety when their owner is absent. As those cases require special attention, consult a Cat Educator to learn more on the topic.
Get Ready to Leave
Whether you are going away for the weekend or for a week, make sure that you place several water bowls around the house, in case some of them spill while cats are playing. If your cats have free access to their food, do not hesitate to do the same with their food as with their water and place them in hidden places (but make sure that they can still access them) so as to stimulate their hunting and seeking drive.
Choose Your Sitter
Often, non-pet owners do not know how to act in front of an animal. First, make sure that the person understands the importance of your cat in your life. It is also important to specify NEVER to hit your cat, and never to scare him or play with him in an abrupt or aggressive manner.
Every year, we have to treat cats whose cheerful and social disposition has been “damaged” by the way they were treated by their sitters. Choose your “substitute” using criteria as strict and specific as if they should babysit your children. Otherwise, put your cat in the care of pet-sitting specialists. There are excellent cat boarding services: simply shop carefully and take the time to do a background check on the professionalism and the reputation of those establishments.
The Sitter’s Schedule
Cats love routine, for it secures them and reduces their stress levels. Thus, it is best that your sitter comes by at the same time every day. That will help your cat build a new routine. Moreover, ask your sitter to take a few minutes to play with your cat so as to get him active and to give him a small window to socialize. Lastly, do not forget to give your sitter your pet’s health record and the number of your veterinarian. If he suspects a health problem, tell him not to hesitate to contact the veterinary clinic to get advice. In your absence, better to play it safe!
The Benefits of Radio and Television
Improve ambiance by keeping the radio turned on to a station that broadcasts talk shows and open-lines. Why? Simply because the shows are the same every day at the same time; the cat will be able to rely on them to establish a routine. Television is also an excellent source of distraction. And foremost, don’t forget to free the access to the windows that offer a good vantage point so that your little fellow may observe the birds and the neighborhood.
You are going away for more than 15 days, or you couldn’t get the services of a cat-sitter at home? You have no other options than to take kitty to a relative’s home or to a boarding service.
Kitty Will Stay in a House Where Other Animals Reside?
It is strongly recommended that he be kept in an isolated room for the whole duration of your vacation if it is under 21 days. Otherwise, the foster family should follow an introduction method: your cat will get his own room, but will be granted daily excursions of one to two hours while the other animals are isolated in their turn. Do you fear that kitty will be unhappy under these conditions? Well, rest assured: stress caused by a forced cohabitation with other animals (meaning when all share the same territory while they don’t know each other) is much worse than isolation, and that both for the visitors and the visited… and for the sitter as well!
Outdoors Sprees Are Prohibited During Vacation!
Whether your cat stays at home or at the pet hotel during your vacation, make sure he can’t go outside, even if he is used to going outside.
Cats and Camping
Bringing a cat camping isn’t a good idea, unless he has been used to it from his kitten days. However, even if he has had that kind of experience, he will surely prefer to stay home or board a cat hotel as he grows older. Some cats might however be content with a large trailer, but be aware that carsickness isn’t rare in cats.
My Cat Urinated Around the House during My Extended Vacation
Has your cat urinated in an inappropriate place during your absence? It is possible that he does not bear well your extended absences. In this case, contact a Cat Educator who will suggest solutions adapted to your animal’s situation.
My Cat and My Will
Did you specify in your legal will what decisions should apply regarding your animal if something should happen to you? In Quebec, the cat has no legal right whatsoever and will be treated the same as your toaster oven. Better to plan the care you wish him to receive, in case of an unfortunate event.