Where Should Fluffy Spend Her Staycation?
This is Part 2 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. Details here.
If you're planning to travel while your cats enjoy a staycation, how do you decide what to do with them while you're gone?
Most cats, given the choice, would prefer to stay at home with familiar smells, sounds and toys. If you're going to be away for just a couple of days, leaving them at home alone with extra kibble and water is not a bad solution. However, it's less practical if you have more than one or two cats, because the litter boxes will fill up and you'll come home to a house that reeks of cat pee. And obviously, this is not an option for cats on medication.
Home Alone Tips:
- Buy a couple of disposable litter boxes to ensure your cats won't be dissuaded to use a filthy litter box.
- If you have a cat door, secure it before you leave on your trip.
- If you've ever had a problem with ants, nest the food bowls into saucers or plates with water, creating a "moat" so that ants can't get to the food.
- If you have outdoor cats (ferals and strays, for example) that you feed, you should have a neighbor drop by each morning or evening to leave food for them.
- Run a Feliway Diffuser in your absence to calm the cats.
Hiring a catsitter is a good option. Someone will come to your house once or twice a day (or even stay at your house 24/7) and offer in-home care. Even better if the catsitter is a family member or a friend with whom the cats are already familiar.
This is probably your best option when you travel on extended trips, or even for weekend trips if your cat needs medication or other daily attention. As with the Home-Alone option, if you have a cat door, secure it before you leave on your trip. We'll cover how to select a catsitter later in this series.
BOARDING AT VET
If you have a cat with special medical needs, you might consider boarding her at a veterinary facility. If so, it should be at a facility in which dogs and cats are separated (many cats will get stressed by constant barking), and sick cats are not in the same quarters as boarders. If your cat suffers from severe separation anxiety (for example, won't eat or drink when you're gone), a vet is available to administer fluids, food, and a sedative if necessary.
BOARDING AT KENNEL or KITTY SPA
A boarding facility is a popular option, and some offer state of the art technology including webcams and spa treatments. Later in this series we'll provide guidance on how to select a boarding facility for your cat. (And don't forget to leave a comment on each of the posts in this series to be entered into the PetSmart giveaway for an overnight stay and TLC at a PetSmart PetsHotel.)
In short, here's a summary of your options:
- Usually fine for very short trips (3 days or less)
- Limited by litterbox capacity
- Fine for cats accustomed to a kibble diet (not a good option for cats who primarily eat wet food, since a dietary change is not recommended while you're away from home)
- If you have more than a couple of cats, a catsitter is probably a better option
- Best option - cat stays in her home, but someone's there to look in on her
- Many catsitters are trained in administering medications
- Many catsitters will double as housesitters and will water plants, etc.
Boarding at Vet
- Might be the only option if your cat has special needs
- Best option if your cat suffers from separation anxiety
- Make sure your cat is in an area separate from dogs and sick animals
Kennel or Kitty Spa
- Most kennels and kitty spas can accommodate special-needs cats
- Make sure your cat is in an area separate from dogs--ideally with its own ventilation system
- In addition to purrsonal references, sites like Catster Local and Yelp can provide online rating and reviews that can help you in your decision-making.
The bottom line is, base your decision on what best suits your cat's temperament and needs.
If you're planning a vacation of any length, it's wise to consider doing a trial run first to see how your cat fares before leaving her with an untested catsitter or dropping her at a boarding facility for a 3-week stay. You don't want to get a phone call a few days into a European vacation telling you that Fluffy is refusing to eat and drink. See how she does over a long weekend. If she's none the worse for wear, that's great. If she appears to have been traumatized by the ordeal, you'll have time to consider other options before you leave on your trip... or opt to have a staycation, yourself, instead!
We'll delve deeper into each of these options this week, so stay tuned.
If you have a good story about your cat's staycation--whether it's a cautionary tale or a funny anecdote, tell me about it. If published in The Cat's Meow, you'll get five additional entries in the PetSmart giveaway.