Good Luck Getting a Cat Sitter: Who Feeds Your Feral Colony When You're on Vacation?
At any given time, my wife and I have as many as 10 feral cats we take care of at our house. Twice per day, we’ll make sure the members of the colony have food, water, and clean bedding, and we'll check in on their overall well-being. As with any cats, they have a set feeding routine and certain times of the day when they’ll appear and expect care. It happens like clockwork. The cats expect me to be there for them, and they have grown very comfortable with me. Recently, however, we went on vacation for a week and were in a quandary about how to make sure they were fed and given water while we were gone.
What do you do about feeding and care for your feral colony while you’re on vacation?
Taking care of a feral colony is similar while also different to providing for an indoor domesticated cat. One of the main differences is that you never know which cats will show up on any given day. Occasionally a new visitor who isn’t part of the colony will show up for food and to investigate the other cats. Often my colony will tolerate visitors if they wait their turn for food and water. However, any cutting in line or trying to gain affection is promptly rejected by most members. This can lead to some pretty aggressive fighting and chasing. Also, some of the feral cats are not friendly to strangers, and will greet any attempt to pet them with a quick swipe of a sharp clawed paw, or they’ll run off and hide.
Our colony has access to our garage at all times. One of the garage doors is always partially open, which allows them to come and go as they please. The garage is where we keep their food, water, and beds. It provides a safe area for them to eat and rest, though often they eat and run. If the garage door accidentally got closed by a caretaker, the cats wouldn’t have access and would have to fend for themselves.
For our situation, we hired a pet sitter for the cats and the many other animals we have at home. She has worked with feral cats in the past and was very comfortable taking care of ours. She followed our written instructions precisely. The only challenge we had was that a few of the regulars didn't return for several days after we came home. Though their routine wasn’t altered, I think they were protesting our being away for the whole week, so they went on a little exploration of their own. Besides, why should the humans be the only ones who get a vacation?
Do you take care of feral cats? What do you do when you go on vacation? Let us know in the comments!
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