Whether you’re traveling for the winter holidays or any other time of the year, it’s always smart to plan ahead when it comes to figuring out your cat care options while you’re away. As someone whose mom is a professional pet sitter (shameless plug for Comforts at Home Pet Sitting in Vancouver and Camas, WA), I can tell you that pet-sitters get booked up very quickly weeks (and sometimes months) before holidays, so your options will become more limited the longer you wait to decide what your kitty will be doing while you’re away from home. There are a number of options to consider depending on several factors: how long will you be gone, what is your budget, and perhaps most importantly, what will be best for your cat? Is your cat friendly, outgoing, and likes the attention of new people; or is she shy and skittish, and most comfortable in familiar surroundings? You’ll want to answer all of these questions when deciding what to do, but here are some choices to guide you when you’re figuring out what to do.
Cat Care Options While You’re Away
- Leave your cats to their own devices. Yes, this is an option – it’s little to no-cost, and if you’re going to be gone for just a day or two and your cats stay indoors and are in good health, there’s nothing wrong with this as long as your cats are safe and secure. Before my senior cat started taking daily medication, I used to leave my kitties overnight with plenty of food and water and they would be completely fine. You can even use automatic timed feeders if you have your cats on a feeding schedule so as not to disrupt their daily routine. However, I don’t recommend this option if you’ll be gone for more than two days or if you have any concerns about the needs of your cats, whether physical, social, or emotional.
- Hire a pet-sitter. Pet-sitters are a great option if your cat tends to be on the shy side and prefers to be in familiar surroundings. Further, if you have more than one cat and they are buddies, they can keep each other company at home. Pet-sitters can be used for both short-term and long-term care, and can visit one or more times per day, but make sure that you do your homework. You’ll want to hire a professional pet-sitter, not just the next-door neighbor kid who is looking to make $10. A professional pet-sitter has training, and is insured, and knows what to do in case of emergencies. Meet with a few in your area and decide who you like and trust, and take a look at their reviews, too. Ask for references! You’ll be trusting this person to come into your home and care for your beloved furry friends, so make sure you hire the right person for the job.
- Hire a house-sitter. A house-sitter is a step up from a pet-sitter in that a house-sitter usually spends the night at your home while you’re away. That doesn’t mean that a house-sitter will be there all the time, day and night, but if your kitty has separation anxiety issues or requires more social or emotional care, a house-sitter might be the better option for you. There are many types of house-sitting gigs out there, both long- and short-term, including pet-sitters who offer house-sitting services. Again, you’ll want to carefully consider who to bring into your home, but this may offer your kitties a level of comfort that a regular pet-sitter may not be able to provide with just a short daily visit.
- Use a boarding facility or a pet hotel. If you cat likes people and attention, you’re going to be away for several days (or longer), or if your kitty has medical needs that need to be regularly monitored or maintained (i.e., your cat needs medications or subcutaneous fluids, etc.), you may be best off boarding your kitty. Many veterinarians provide boarding for their clients; however, these cats tend to be housed in small kennels for the duration of their stay. The benefit in this environment is professional medical care. But if your cat doesn’t need medical attention, what do you do? There are now many “hotels” that specifically cater to cats, providing time outside of private enclosures (which they typically refer to as condos or cabanas) to interact and play with staff and other cats (if they get along well with others). In Vancouver, WA, The Cat’s Meow is a luxury boarding facility that has indoor live finches for the cats to watch, and in Portland, OR, Pounce Play & Stay is a deluxe cat hotel that has tons of room in which cats can explore and play. If you’re going to be out of town for a while and your cat craves attention, this may be the best option for you. So investigate – there may be a great boarding facility in your area!
- Take your cat with you! Many cats don’t mind traveling, especially if they were acclimated to riding in a carrier or traveling in a car at an early age. There are a ton of articles out there about how to travel with your kitty so I won’t go over the details with you here, but you’ll want to make sure you have all the supplies your cat needs (including medications), current identification, and cat-friendly overnight destinations. Many of us can’t stand being away from our kitties, so if your floof is a good traveling companion and you can plan for it, take her with you!
This is one of my kitties, Abbey. She loves getting in my suitcase as I pack. This, however, is NOT the preferred way to travel with your cat! 😉
In the end, choose whatever option you feel is best for your cat. If you trust that your cat’s needs will be met while you’re traveling and if you’ve chosen an option that fits your cat’s tempurrment, you can enjoy your vacation just as much as your kitty will! You know what they say…when the humans are away, the cats will play (well, it goes something like that, I think)!