In a few days I will be traveling for a big pet-blogging conference (Blogpaws!). I’m very excited, having never been to this event before. But when I travel, in the back of my mind is always a bit of unease. How will the cats take it? I’ll miss them, and they’ll miss me, even though my husband will be home and does a wonderful job of looking after their needs.
I also realize that this has to do with my need to calm down. I don’t like to leave them, and I’m sure they pick up on this. So here’s what I do in the days before I travel, so that I can get comfortable with leaving my cats for a few days.
Many of us believe that cats hate change, and I think it’s true that they certainly appreciate routine and sameness. So, I try to give them that, particularly in the days before I travel. I keep feeding times the same, and I don’t change up the diet or do anything like that. I try to stick to the things they’re used to, and keep it the same — playtime at night, music at night (though there hasn’t been enough of that, and yes, my cats love music!), the same foods they’re used to, etc. I want them to go into the period I’m away as calmly as possible.
This may seem crazy to some, but I’ve had instances where cats were really affected when one of us had to be gone. Usually, it doesn’t happen. But I try not to tempt the possibility.
There are some things that are out of our control, to be sure. We’ve had some construction going on here and there have been several days when cats have had to spend the day in one room. But they’ve gotten used to that routine, and if it happens while I’m gone, I don’t think it will be a big deal.
If I can help it, I don’t schedule elective trips to the vet in the days before I travel. These can wait until I return and things calm down. The cats don’t need the added stress, and I am busy enough trying to get my life organized to be gone for a few days.
My cats are tuned into me, and I bet yours are, too. If I’m stressing, they are going to pick up on it. So I remember to do my daily yoga, and I remember to breathe, and to take time to walk outside (nature is my instant calmer). The cats pick up on this. And, I give them extra loving. I try to stay in the moment and love each cat, a little (or more), daily.
Actually, I am always boosting their immune system (I use a product called Vetri DMG, which a holistic vet recommended). They get it daily, and some get more than others (Rama, for example, who has had recurring sarcomas, gets more). So, the days before I leave are not the time to forget the immune booster. And I boost my own immune system with breathing and good food and supplements, especially if I am going to be flying.
My regular routine is somewhat complicated (with six cats, it’s going to be). The last time I traveled for four days, Zorro (who is very attached to me and quite sensitive) got into the Fancy Feast (the food that Chester loves). Zorro began vomiting. I am pretty sure this was stress-induced, as it stopped when I got home, gave him a bit of probiotic, and got him back on his regular food. But to simplify things for my husband when I travel this time, I am going to make sure that the Fancy Feast just doesn’t get used while I am gone. Fortunately, Chester is to the point now where he will eat the food that everyone else is eating.
I am a control freak, to be sure; I keep learning this about myself. But thanks to life lessons, I’ve also learned that I can cause myself a great deal less stress if I set things up to the best of my ability … and then let go. How much grasping can I do, after all? It is what it is, and we can’t live life worrying about bad scenarios that will probably never manifest, anyway. Deep breathing really helps.
The strange thing is that once I am actually traveling, I’m just fine. It’s the days ahead of leaving that I tend to worry, and that’s when I need to pay attention to arrangements, planning, and my own vibe (keeping calm for myself and for my furrbabies).
I love to travel; I love to get out and see the world and have new experiences. But I also love to come home. Traveling is pretty important to me, so I do my best to try and get comfortable with leaving the cats, even for just a few days.
How do you get comfortable with leaving your cats for a trip? How do your cats respond? Tell us in the comments.
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.