How do you care for cats while on vacation? What steps should you take to ensure they are safe and have everything they need? We’ll take a look at the basics so you can relax and enjoy your vacation instead of worrying about your cats.
When caring for cats while on vacation, their needs vary depending on how long you will be gone and their unique personalities. For example, some shy cats may be stressed if taken to a boarding facility, while others may be far more outgoing and do fine. So, consider what each pet is likely to need as you know your cat best.
What works for one cat may not work so well for another. However, here are some things to think about.
Automating Care for Cats While on Vacation
When leaving cats on vacation, they need their food and water bowls filled twice daily. These days, it’s easier to make sure cats are cared for with a little help from technology. However, knowing which products to invest in can take some research. Then, it takes some time to see how they work and how your cat or cats will use each product.
Therefore, it’s essential to start planning early and have them in your home to allow your cats to get used to them. For vacations from a weekend trip to longer, pre-programmed automatic cat feeders, litter boxes, and water fountains can be a life-saver. Although you’ll still need a pet sitter for any but a brief trip, your cat can always have a replenished supply of dry food, water, and clean litter.
Some models have battery backup in case the power goes out and can accommodate more than one cat. Just be sure to install new batteries before your trip. In households where one cat may eat all the food, you may need a separate feeder for each cat.
An advantage of automatic feeders versus gravity bin feeders is you control the amount of food. So, you can be sure they aren’t overeating while you’re gone. Plus, it’s helpful for pet sitters. When the sitter arrives, they can feed canned food to entice more finicky cats to eat. Then, they can spend some time interacting and observing each cat.
Likewise, an automatic litter box can help your pet sitter as they can empty the reservoir quickly.
Ask a Trusted Pet Sitter
Generally, leaving cats while on vacation means finding a trusted pet sitter. However, some cats may do well at a boarding facility. If cats are easily stressed, it’s probably best to leave them in a familiar setting and routine at home. Then, it’s time to enlist help from a trustworthy, dependable pet sitter.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the perfect cat sitter they can depend on. If you do, consider yourself very lucky – they are worth their weight in gold! For others, it’s time to inquire with trusted friends or family. However, leaving cats while on vacation with anyone can put a strain on relationships. Sometimes, cats act up while you’re away or get into unexpected mischief. Other times, the sitter may not be as dependable as you had hoped.
Find a Professional Pet Sitter
Another possibility is a professional pet sitter who usually provides a written service contract. In some cases, they may live in your home or visit daily, depending on your needs.
When you leave cats on vacation, they can ensure pets are well-cared for and get some attention. Plus, they can also watch you home and bring in the mail. As an added benefit, your home looks lived-in, which discourages potential burglars.
With today’s technology, many pet sitters will provide updates, like a video with your cat. That way, you can be sure everything is fine at home. So, be sure to inquire how you can stay in the loop when leaving cats on vacation.
For recommendations, ask your veterinarian, humane society, family, friends, and neighbors. Then, interview the pet sitter to learn about them and see how they interact with your pet. Usually, they will be willing to offer a list of client references, like any job interview.
During this time, you can give them any notes about your cat’s specific care requirements and discuss who to contact in case of emergencies. If you like the pet sitter and they seem to interact well with your cats, consider hiring them for a brief trip first. That way, you can see how it goes, work out any issues, and develop trust before leaving for a longer vacation.
Another consideration is to make sure pet sitters have commercial liability insurance are bonded to protect against the risk of theft.
Cat Entertainment While You Vacation
Sure, you might be seeing all kinds of new sights on vacation. However, your cat is likely to be bored and anxious while you’re away. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep them entertained and can keep them from being destructive.
One idea is setting up a play area with their favorite toys. If possible, give them access to look out a window at passing birds and traffic. Thanks to technology, entertainment is easier with looping videos made just for cats on the TV. Or, leave on the radio with low sound, so cats don’t feel so alone. Before you leave, be sure to test everything out to make sure it’s working smoothly.
Also, leaving a light or lights on around the home can make them feel more secure and deter would-be burglars.
See cats watching videos from The Amaze Lab:
Here are few safety considerations that may or may not apply to you:
- Cover electric cords with cord covers and unplug anything that isn’t essential. Remove any fire hazards.
- Remove and store any lightbulbs that cats could knock over.
- Ensure doors you want open can’t be pushed closed by your cat. Conversely, close doors to rooms you don’t want cats to access while you’re away.
- Do some cat-proofing and store away objects your cat may swat over or damage.
Caring for cats while on vacation can sometimes involve unexpected behavior. While you’re away, they may be stressed and do things like marking their territory. If you suspect this may happen, it’s best to expect the unexpected and put away your favorite blanket or collectibles.
Finally, an idea we love from Everhart Veterinary Medicine can help make saying goodbye easier. Keep your suitcase out all the time, so cats are used to seeing it and won’t associate it with you leaving. Then, when you come home, put on a piece of clothing with your cat’s scent on it. That way, they know their human has come home, and you’re back to care for them.
We hope you have a wonderful vacation knowing your cats are safe and have what they need while you are away.