How to Avoid a Cat-astrophy This Holiday Season
It’s hard to think of one negative aspect of going on vacation. You get to say goodbye to the monotony of your daily work grind and head off into the sun/snow/wherever your happy place is. There’s only one reason we’d use the word “bittersweet” to define taking a well-earned holiday—leaving our pets behind!
While we relish the idea of being able to bring our animals on vacation, it’s rarely the most comfortable option for them. This is especially true of cats. “Taking your cat(s) with you—unless you are planning on vacationing for extended periods of time (many months)—should never be considered,” says ExcitedCats.com veterinarian Johnathon Roberts.
He points out that cats can become highly stressed in new environments and usually take several weeks to settle into their new surroundings.
1. Pet sitting
So, what’s the next best option for keeping an eye on your kitty while you’re away? A host of choices are available to pet owners who want a hiatus from work and/or nightly kibble feeds, but according to Dr Roberts, the best is hiring a live-in pet sitter. “Having your cats cared for in their own environment is always first prize,” he says. “The only change is the person providing the care and the rest of your cat’s routine will remain unchanged.”
He also notes the importance of providing your cat with regular human interaction - something felines are inaccurately portrayed as not caring much about. “Cats tend to have a reputation for not needing much love or attention, however, this is far from the truth. Our feline friends are social by nature and will never adapt to a solitary lifestyle.” In fact, he notes that scientific studies have proven that human company brings about more confidence and calmness in cats, as opposed to isolation, which increases their stress levels.
2. Daily Drop-Ins
What if you can’t afford to have a full-time sitter, would a neighbour or a friend dropping by each day be sufficient? It would be, but only for shorter trips. While animals have the advantage of staying in familiar environments in this case, they are only checked on once or twice a day. “Illnesses and injuries can go unnoticed and some outdoor cats may decide to go roaming to look for human affection.” If you were considering implementing a high-tech feeder to help you out while you’re away, it may be a viable option, but only for very quick getaways. “Automatic pet food dispensers may look convenient, but they should never be a substitute for human care while you are on vacation,” reminds Dr Roberts. He recommends only relying on an automatic feeding machine for periods of 24 hours or less.
3. Boarding Facilities
If none of these options is feasible, your best bet may be to board your cat in a boarding facility with other pets. There are pros and cons to this decision. Boarding shelters are run by animal professionals, which will likely put you at ease when it comes to your cat’s safety and ongoing access to humans. “While a boarding facility can provide you with peace of mind that your cat is in a safe and caring environment, it can also be an incredibly stressful experience for some cats,” Dr Roberts says, due to the unfamiliarity of their surroundings. Plus, being housed with many other cats could put your pet at risk of contracting common diseases found in catteries, such as feline herpesvirus (FHV), feline calicivirus, and
If the idea of your beloved cat contracting an illness while you lounge on the beach fills you with dread, you’re not alone. However, rest assured that good vet care is all you need to protect your pet in these cases. Dr Roberts reassures that these “diseases are covered by vaccines your cat should receive before entering a boarding facility. This is why vaccines are mandatory and no animals should be boarding without proof of vaccination.” If you are going to take a longer vacation, boarding is optimal over in-house daily feedings.
4. Preparing Cats For Boarding
- Visit the facility before booking. Assess its cleanliness, staff, and facilities. Ensure you feel comfortable with the facility so you know your cat will be as well.
- Cats should be housed individually unless they are cat siblings from the same family.
- Ensure your cat's vaccinations are up to date, they are dewormed, and have adequate tick and flea control.
- Make sure they are microchipped, the microchip is functioning, and the contact details are up to date.
- Always bring your cat’s regular food to be eaten during their stay and bring a worn but unwashed item of clothing to remind your pet of their owner and home.
- Consider bringing your cat's preferred litter for a more seamless transition.
ExcitedCats is focused on providing comprehensive information and suggestions for all things cat-related. Whether you can be with your pet every day of the year or not, the veterinarian team at ExcitedCats knows that being a great pet parent requires having access to all the best veterinarian-approved information. The next time you are planning on taking a trip, buying new cat food, or you just want to understand the quirks of your curious kitten, check out ExcitedCats.com for all the answers you could need and then some. It’s made by cat lovers, for cat lovers.
Written by Mary Davis.