Summer vacation — oh, what a joyous event!
So what’s happening with your cats while you’re gone? Are you leaving them for extended periods of time with just a bunch of water and food? Are you letting the kid down the block just throw some food in the bowl every other day?
You want my professional opinion? These are not very good ideas. Just because cats don’t have to be “walked” twice a day like dogs doesn’t mean they deserve poor home care while their humans are away.
Vacation — Who Needs One?
The voice in your head is saying “Just stay home, open thousands of cans of cat food, pet the cats on the couch and change the litter twice a day.” That’s what you really want to do, right?
No — take that vacation. You deserve it. Just provide properly for Mittens, Muffy, Mork and Mindy — and then relax.
If you think the best and safest solution for your cats is a boarding facility, plan early.
Do research now to secure a reservation at a highly reputable establishment. I think cat-only facilities are a really good idea. Visit the facility, if possible, or get recommendations from your kitty-loving friends or veterinarian.
When making the reservation, ask a zillion questions, such as:
- What vaccinations are required?
- How much playtime do the kitties get?
- Does the staff give medications?
- If my cat gets sick, will you use your vet or my vet. Who is your vet?
If your cat is high maintenance in needing insulin injections or oral medications, carefully check the nursing expertise of the staff. Some cats may be better off in a veterinary hospital if they are frail, need subcutaneous fluids or medical monitoring and meds.
A great and responsible cat sitter is a gift. Cats love to stay at home as long as their normal routine is not terribly disrupted.
Know that while cats left on their own for a few days may be safe in the majority of cases, health problems can occur quickly. Fevers, urinary blockages, blood clots — these are common feline emergencies. And if your cats are used to human contact, they can get very stressed if they are left alone for several days.
Tell your cat sitter to find your cat at every visit at least once and preferably twice a day. If Mr. Vampire Kitty won’t come out in the light of day, have the sitter go back throughout the day until Mr. Vampire comes out for his meal.
Don’t Miss: What to Do With Your Cat When You Travel
No Big Bowls of Food
If you leave 4 pounds of cat food in a vat, how does the cat sitter know if the cats are eating? Not to mention big vats of kitty tortilla chips promotes over-eating.
Eating too much dry food is never a good idea, in my opinion. If your cat is addicted to dry food, it’s even more important for the cat sitter to change the water frequently and properly portion out the dry food.
Importance of Water
I wrote about “watering your cat” (like your favorite house plant) a while back. Hydration for cats is super important, and having several bowls around the house is key.
Well, once I left 5 different bowls of water and thought I had given complete instructions to what I believed was a very attentive cat sitter before I left for a short weekend away. When I got home, the cats’ favorite water bowl was dry — but the rest of the bowls were full.
Clearly, the cats had a favorite bowl and drank only from that one…and my cat sitter had probably not changed the water at all. Not good.
Watch this cat teach her kitty the importance of hydration:
Always keeping cats indoors is the safest way to go, but many cats enjoy an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. So what do you do when you go away?
Keep them inside when you are away from home, if possible, and seal pet doors. This makes your cat sitter’s job so much easier. Outside Johnny may just give you the cold paw when you return from your travels, but he’ll survive house arrest for a week.
Your cat is really smart. He knows you’re leaving — he saw the suitcases and hopped inside them so you couldn’t finish packing. And even if he loves his cat sitter, he is stressed.
The lesson here is, before gallivanting off into the sunset of vacation paradise, plan well in advance so your cats are safe and secure as well as fed and watered properly while you’re gone.
And enjoy your vacations, one and all!
This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed June 8, 2016.