It’s getting to be that time of year again when we pack our bags and head off into the whirlwind of emotions that come with family holidays. Don’t forget to consider your cat when you start making travel plans. There are a lot of options to consider. Whether you choose to hire a pet sitter, use a boarding service, or take her with you, look at it from her point of view and be sure that the decision you’re making is truly in her best interest.
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Leave her to fend for herself
Cats have a reputation for being independent animals, and sometimes that leads people to do wacky things like leave them alone for several days at a time with full bowls of food and water. This can be dangerous for your cat, who depends on you for much more than just meals. The most obvious danger is that your cat may become ill or injured while you are away and there will be nobody to make sure she receives the care she needs. Illnesses and injuries can escalate quickly. Another risk is that she may ingest something poisonous or dangerous. Cats are far more likely to create their own stimulation when you aren’t around to play with them– which could lead to her getting into all kinds of mischief. If you’ll be gone for more than 24 hours, leaving your cat to fend for herself isn’t the best option.
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Take her with you
Traveling with your cat isn’t always practical or in her best interest. There are a lot of factors to consider, which will vary widely depending on your cat’s individual personality and history. How far are you traveling? Does your cat become very anxious in the car? What’s the environment like at your destination? Will there be other animals there? Will your cat have a private room to hide out in?
If your cat stays relatively relaxed during car travel and has an adventurous enough personality to adapt quickly and happily to new environments then taking her with you may be a good option. It’ll be best to avoid the stress, though, if your cat is with the majority of cats who’d rather never step paw in a car again.
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Some boarding facilities are great and go to great lengths to keep their cats as happy and comfortable as possible. Others, however, can be depressing and scary for your cat. It’s hard for cats to be locked in a cage and surrounded by so many new sights, smells, and sounds (many of which are coming from other animals that are stressed– a fact your cat won’t fail to notice).
If you’re considering boarding, be sure to take a tour first and look at it from your cat’s point of view and don’t forget that your cat’s senses are much stronger than your own. Are there hiding places and perches in each cage that’ll help your cat feel safe? How is the smell? Is it very loud? Would your cat have a direct view of the cat in the cage beside her or are there barriers? Are the cages large enough so her food bowl wouldn’t be beside her litter box? Do the staff members have time for ample playing and petting? How do they work towards reducing fear and anxiety? Do they have an on-call veterinarian for emergencies?
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Hire a pet sitter
If your cat was able to voice her own opinion on the matter, she’d surely choose to stay at home with a pet sitter. That’s because cats are territorial and creatures of habit. She will be much happier in her own familiar home with her own cozy bed.
It shouldn’t be necessary to hire someone to stay in your home full time while you’re away. Unless your cat requires special attention (she’s on a strict feeding schedule, requires medications, etc.) it should be enough to have someone pop in once a day to feed her, pet her, play with her, and assess her wellbeing. If you’ve never hired a pet sitter before (or even if you have), you may want to read about the 5 Things Your Cat Sitter Should Absolutely Know before you leave town.
If you choose your pet sitter wisely, they may even send you photos or videos of your cat while you’re away. Knowing that your cat is happy, comfortable, and safe will give you the peace of mind to relax and enjoy your holidays.