Missing Fluffy: How to Cope
This is Part 7 of a series on Fluffy's Staycation: What to do with cats who stay behind while you travel. In conjunction with this series, PetSmart is sponsoring a giveaway in which the lucky winner will win an overnight stay and TLC at a PetSmart PetsHotel. To enter, just leave a comment on this post, and on every post in this series. Each comment serves as your entry in the giveway; no more than one entry per post per household, please. Winners will be drawn at random on June 15th. Details here.
I challenge any one of you to admit that you've never suffered even a twinge of separation anxiety when you travel without your pets. Today we'll cover a few things that might help mitigate those mournful pangs.
SKYPE VIDEO CALLS
Have you considered video conferencing so that you can get your Fluffy fix while on the road?
If you have 1) a laptop with a webcam, 2) a home computer with a webcam, and 3) an agreeable cat sitter, you can make FREE computer-to-computer calls from anywhere in the world. You can see Fluffy, and Fluffy can see you. The results are amazing (you get better results the better your hardware is and the faster your connections are).
Just go to Skype.com, sign up for an account, and install the FREE software. You'll be up and running in minutes.
If you don't have a webcam, a cheapo $30 model will work fine for this. It's a small price to pay for some QT with Fluffy every evening.
Words of Warning: This works better if the cat sitter is a trusted family member. It's always a good policy to password-protect your computer files before you travel.
STREAMING WEBCAM VIDEO
When shopping for kennels, some have webcams, so you can tune in anytime for a glimpse of Fluffy.
If Fluffy's staying at home, you can install a webcam pointed at her favorite lounging spot. (Not for techno-phobes, though, since it can involve reconfiguring your firewall.)
Many boarding facilities (like PetCamp) and cat sitters upload photos of their guests each day so you can sneak a peak at Fluffy whether she's enjoying her time at the spa, or a home staycation.
BRING FLAT-CAT WITH YOU
OK. You have to be a little nuts to try this one. But trust me on this, it's fun and definitely a conversation starter.
If you're familiar with the concept of "Flat Stanley," you know what I'm talking about. A Flat-Cat is a feline Flat Stanley, a stand-up version of your cat that you can take on vacation with you and pose for vacation photos.
I have several versions of "Flat Skeezix" that travel with me anytime Skeezix can't. Flat Skeezix has logged about 15,000 travel miles and has even kissed the Blarney Stone. Your flat-cat will definitely make your set of vacation photos more interesting.
Making a Flat-Cat is easy:
- Take a photo of your cat. It's best if she's sitting up facing the camera.
- Make a print of the photo, as close to life size as possible, usually 11"X14". If she's about 12 inches tall standing up, her image should occupy about 12" of the vertical space on the photo, with about 2" left over (see example, right).
- Adhere the print to a piece of foam core board (fig 1 below). You can get foam core with an adhesive back at any office supply store. Or, use spray adhesive or a glue stick.
- Weight it down overnight.
- Using an Exacto knife, cut out around the cat image (fig 2 below). Put a self-healing mat or several layers of cardboard beneath the foam core so that you don't score your dining room table.
- Cut a strip of foam core about 1-1/2" wide and not quite as tall as your cat. This will prop your cat up as you pose her.
- Affix it to the back of your foam core cat with packing tape or duct tape (depicted in green in the figure), about 2/3 of the way up (fig 3 below).
- Try it out, trimming the length of the support as necessary. The flat cat should tilt backward slightly for stability. Once you have the angle correct, put a second length of tape about halfway down the support that connects the support to the flat cat about an inch or two away. I take 2 lengths of tape and stick them sticky-sides-together in the middle, with the last inch on each end used to affix it to the support and the flat cat.
I can stow Flat Skeezix in my backpack, and pull him out whenever necessary for photo opps. It's like having him on the trip with me ... without a litter box to clean.
What are your strategies for dealing with the anxiety you experience when separated from your cat?