Once a year - more often, if you re lucky - it is time for that mystical moment in life. That time where you just get to leave it all behind, forget your worries and visit your version of heaven. This time is called ‘Holiday’. A time of leisure, reading books on a beach, discovering new cultures and exciting adventures, it is a moment we all look forward to.
But what about your cat? Chances are, they don’t particularly feel the need to join you on your trip. Luckily, there are several options available - some more preferable to others. Let’s have a look!
Ask someone you know to drop by
Having a friend, family member or neighbour drop by to feed and check up on kitty is a time-honoured tradition and works especially well if they too need a cat sitter. If you scratch their back, they will most certainly scratch yours, keeping the cost of kitty’s upkeep during your absence to a minimum. A couple of things to keep in mind:
- See if you can get them to occasionally spend a little time actually cuddling your cat if they are cuddly in nature - especially if you’re going to be gone for several weeks.
- Make sure you leave the phone number where you can be reached, the phone number of your veterinarian, your pet carrier and some cash on hand just in case. You never know what might happen and it is best to make these things easy to find in the moment.
The benefit of this system is that the cat has everything they need while being able to stay in their territory which is vital to their wellbeing. It’ll help significantly in coping with your absence and enjoying their own holiday. The downside, however, is that your friend, family member or neighbour is likely not to take a lot of time to check up on the cat, nor are they a professional or do they know the cat well. When something does happen, it can be overlooked or insufficiently dealt with, despite their good intent.
Hire a cat sitter
If you re not fortunate enough to have anyone close by to ask for this kind of favour, or if you feel that you cannot burden them with the care of an animal that needs medication, there are other options. Many areas have professional cat sitters for hire. Naturally, as with any service, you’d have to vet them. Even better would be to get a referral from someone you trust.
Typically, a professional cat sitter will walk you through all the formalities - your details, specifics on the medical conditions of all the animals you have, where you can be reached, the number of your vet - and they’ll often also take care of your plants, take in your mail and spend 30 minutes with your animal to cuddle and play.
Other benefits include that your animal can stay in their own home, causing minimal fuss or stress for them, and if they need to be medicated, these services usually have no qualms taking care of that either. Many will send you a text or an image of their visit so you know that your kitty is fine.
The downside is that you do pay for this service. It can be more economical than catteries though if you have multiple pets as the price per visit is often the same, no matter the amount of animals you have - depending on the amount of work.
Generally speaking - provided you pick a professional service - this is the most appealing option to all parties. Your cat can stay where they feel most comfortable and yet they get their cuddles, food, check-ups and medication. Meanwhile, you know for sure your kitty is in good hands so you can enjoy your trip guilt free.
Taking your cat with you on holiday
Some people like taking their cats with them when they travel. While this isn’t necessarily easy on the cat, the stress it causes can be diminished by raising them in this lifestyle from kitten onwards. It works best when you travel to the same spot each time, as then they can annex the new place as a second ‘home’.
It does take a lot of work: training the kittens to be comfortable with the travelling and the new place, making sure they’re up to date with their shots, anti-parasitics and other stuff required to be able to enter the region you’re going to with a pet, as well as finding a place that allows cats.
Doing this with a cat who wasn’t trained for it is generally a bad idea all around. Risks include them becoming ill from stress and them running away in panic and getting lost. In short - neither of you will have a fun vacation.
Relocating your cat to a friend's house
The same can be done when relocating a cat temporarily to the home of someone you trust. If the cat is used to this from kittenhood, they might only need a day or so to adjust. While they may stress a little, the fact that they are under constant supervision and with someone they know are definite perks. You can ask for a Feliway to be plugged in before you bring the cat over in order to make the transition as easy as possible. If taught to associate being in the car with good things - such as treats - the move itself should have a minimal impact.
However, doing this with a cat who isn’t trained properly as a one-time deal is usually not recommended. Your cat will likely stress for days, both during the initial move and the move back to your own home. Potential issues include them refusing to eat at the new place, peeing in the wrong places, hiding the entire time and generally being miserable. If you find yourself in a position where this situation cannot be avoided, make sure that you secure them a small room to start with that has all the basics. That way, they can gain their bearings and adjust in their own time without being completely overwhelmed.
Cat Hotels and Catteries
Catteries will do everything they can to take care of your animal - depending on how much you are willing to pay.
The worst ones have your cat sit in a small cage with just the bare essentials. Often, those cats go home in a traumatised state and get sick during their stay there due to the mix of exposure to other cats and their immune system taking a nose dive because they’re suffering from chronic stress.The good ones however will go out of their way to make sure your cat gets plenty of space, distraction and attention to make sure they are as happy as they can be while they stay there. And in that regard, it can be the perfect option.
That said, it is still stressful and disorienting to most cats who haven’t been trained to consider this as a normal part of life from a young age. Plus, it can get expensive - depending on the duration of their stay there.
All options are just that - options. Select the one that you feel most comfortable with and will jive best with your kitty. You know them best, so ask yourself the following:
‘How do I book the perfect holiday - both for me and my cat?’