3 Things to consider for your Cats when you go away
Every household is different, every one of us is different, how we care for our cats is different – but there is one thing we all have in common, and that is we all go away on vacation, business trips whichever it may be, from time to time. So what do you do with your kitty? Where do they go? How do you prepare for this daunting trip for them? My husband and I have recently travelled abroad for just under a month, and my cats had to be looked after while we were away. Here are some things you need to consider for your cats when you go away.
Cattery or Pet sitter
Over the years I have been lucky enough to live close to my parents. So whenever hubby and I would go away they would very happily look after the boys for us. Things have since changed in that my folks have moved to the Cape, and we have moved to Johannesburg – very far apart! So I had the dilemma when we were going away in 2016 of what on earth do I do with my kitties. Do I want to take them to a cattery, put them in a place that is unfamiliar with sounds and other animals that they are not used to? Or do I get a pet sitter to come into my home to look after the boys? As I mentioned with the cattery, the cons here are that it is unfamiliar and possibly threatening to them. The cons of a pet sitter however, were that they don’t necessarily stay on your property. The most they would do is come in the mornings for feeding, and again at night time feeding. Personally, the cons for pet sitters outweighed the cons of catteries for me. I would rather my boys feel a small bit of anxiety for the first day or so, than have anything happen to them that would only be discovered about 6 hours later, at least. So, cattery it was! Then the hunt started on which cattery is best, which is closest (as my boys hate the car), and which is cost effective, but safe. In 2016 I took my boys to a disastrous place, they said they were a cattery when in fact they were a kennel for dogs mostly. The noise was unbearable, and I did not have a very good feeling to begin with. But, I had no choice as when I dropped them off we were leaving that very same day. Lesson learnt to always go check out the cattery before the drop off date! Travis came home with a gash in his eye, luckily nothing serious, but this was never even noticed by the cattery owners and/or staff, and they brushed it off. As you’ve probably noticed my boys are like my kids, so I was not thrilled at all. Hence I have never taken them back there. First experience horrible, but the search continued…
You’ve decided on a Cattery – what next?
After my bad experience with the first cattery my boys ever went to, I came home and committed myself to thorough research on catteries in and around my area. I probably enquired with about 10 catteries, maybe less – but as I sit here I remember it was many. Then one jumped out at me. The testimonials on the website were fantastic, the pictures of the garden units were beautiful, and I even stalked the owner on Facebook for a while to see what kind of person she was. It became apparent that she absolutely lived for cats! I was sold! I immediately got in touch with her for quotes, and we started a relationship via email. The first time my boys went there (I did go and check it out first this time), I was more than thrilled. Firstly, you cannot expect the same environment as you have it at home, but you can recreate it. And this is why I’m writing this blog. There are ways to ensure your cats are happy and content in this temporary arrangement. Get to know the owner, chat to them often, and let them know that your cats mean the world to you. Once you’ve built that relationship you will feel at ease. One thing that still gets me today is when I know that I am preparing to take my boys to their “hotel”, but I cannot explain it to them or prepare them emotionally for their journey. But I always make it my priority to ensure that they have everything and more that they might need over the time that they are “on holiday”. This way, I feel more at ease and more comfortable knowing that they will be just fine.
What to pack for your cat’s holiday?
As you’ve noticed I do refer to them going to a cattery as their holiday, or hotel. This is for my own little piece of calm during the storm. In other words, my cats do not like the car, this is a bad omen for them. This was my fault as I never got them used to travelling in a car when they were kittens. I just felt there was no need. Hence I always consider distance to their hotels first before enquiring any further. So, with that being said you need to get your own mind around it – don’t stress out – simply sit down and look around you to see what it is that makes your cat’s life so wonderful. Food, bed – it’s a cat, so that’s about it! But like my boys, I’m sure there are some things your kitty just loves to have around him. Like a certain blanket, teddy bear, toy – or even something that you wear that will bring the smell of home a long with him. For my boys I have 2x large fleece blankets that they absolutely love. Bonus here is that they smell like home too. So I always cart this a long with them. I also recently realised that they should eat out of their own bowls, simply because you don’t know how clean the catteries bowls are, and what possible infections they might pick up from them. Both Travis and Sancho came home with chin acne after their last visit (no fault of the cattery of course – but I will bring it up with her next time) – and when I read up about this I read that it could be from plastic bowls that are not cleaned thoroughly enough. Of course I don’t know for sure that it was from there, but rather safe than sorry next time around. So I will pack in their stainless steel bowls that only they have eaten out of. So in short you need to ensure you have:
- Blankets (something that smells of home);
- Food bowls;
- Toys they enjoy to play with at home.
Once you have this, then you can move onto the more detrimental items such as food, medication (if your cat is on anything), calming meds etc. Most catteries offer food that you pay extra for, I always prefer to pack the food they eat every day. Reason being is that cats cannot change a certain type of food too suddenly as this could cause stomach issues. It’s just not advised! So I always pack my boy’s food. Obviously you need to determine how much is enough for the time that you are away. Another thing to remember is to always consider food for home for the first few days they get home from their time away so to ensure they don’t go without when you are all back.
There is absolutely no need to stress about your cats while you are away, especially if you have done the research and preparation for them for their trip. I would also recommend not feeding them before you take them on their journey as some cats could get car sick, or the stress of the trip could make them bring up the food as well. You just want to prevent any unwanted stress factors for you or your cats when you are taking them to their cattery. If you do consider going for a pet sitter on the other hand, I would recommend you request the person to come at least 3 times throughout the day, twice to feed, once to check in and spend some time with your little one. All in all, vacations are a time of excitement, you cannot share this excitement emotionally with your cats, but by preparation you can minimise the stress levels that could so easily ruin anyone’s vacation time – including your cats!
The decision should not come lightly to get a kitty companion. There are a lot of things to consider before you even start the process of adopting a cat! Yes, I am a big supporter of “adopt don’t shop”!! There are so many cats in the shelters and there are more coming in each day. The euthanizing of our feline friends is on the rise because the shelters just cannot keep up with the volumes.
I have heard it so many times in my life – “My cat does not get along with my new puppy, looking for a good home for it”, or, “My husband is allergic to my cat… looking for a good home”. This just breaks my heart to be honest. A cat comes with so many responsibilities and is a lifelong commitment. The moment you feel the need to get a cat you need to consider everything that could come your way with this little feline. Don’t let it be an impromptu decision, it is one that should not come lightly, because at the end of the day, if it turns out to not suit your way of life, you will be to blame, but the cat is the one who suffers.