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Many people choose to own cats because they require less care than canines: they’re very independent, don’t demand as much exercise and are able to entertain themselves when busy human schedules make playtime limited. Indeed, it is true that cats are incredibly self-sufficient in many ways, but sometimes (attitudes aside) they really do need us. Just like dogs, cats need help, love and companionship when we’re not around.
But don’t tell your cat that.
Domestic cats who are confined to the indoors can experience loneliness and frustration when they’re bored or left alone for prolonged periods of time. Most cats will not require any special care if you’re only gone for a night, but if you’re planning on traveling for two or more days, you should have a plan to fall back on. Here are some tips to make sure your fluffiest pals are safe and happy while you’re away.
If possible, your cat should be cared for in an environment that they’re used to in order to reduce stress. A friend or pet sitter who can come stay at your home while you’re away would be a perfect solution. Your sitter should visit your home no less than once a day if they cannot stay there. However, twice is best because it allows adequate feeding and playtime and the ability to monitor for any issues that may arise with your pet.
If boarding is your go-to or your only option, choose your facility with care. Schedule a visit in advance and make sure the facility is clean, fresh smelling and relatively quiet. Look for boarding areas that do not contain loud noises like barking or strong smells, both of which can create great stress in your feline.
Think of it like a field guide for your pet sitter or boarding facility with instructions about feeding schedules, medications, litter box maintenance and emergency numbers—yours and your veterinarian’s. If you’re using a pet sitter, leave your contact info and a spare key with someone you trust, in case your petsitter cannot make it to check on your pet.
Most pet sitters and boarding facilities won’t mind if you ask for daily updates on how your cat is doing in the form of a brief text, photo, phone call or email while you’re away. Technology makes it really easy to keep in touch these days and that means with your pet, too.
Even if you will be gone for only one day, the importance of creating a safe environment for your cat cannot be overstated. Before leaving, close all windows and doors so your kitty can’t slip outside; move breakable items to a safe place such as behind a closed door in an off-limits room; make sure your cat cannot accidently turn on the stove while climbing and exploring by taping knobs into an “off” position; and close any doors to rooms your kitty doesn’t need to be inside. As an added measure, leave your cat’s bed, blanket, or other comfort items in a safe room, along with toys. After all, you don’t want them to feel like they are in cat-jail while you are away.
If your cat will be at home without care, make sure there’s enough food and water to extend throughyour time away. If someone will be stopping in to check on your cat, make sure the food is in an accessible (to humans) location. If you’ll be boarding your cat, check with the facility to get an understanding of their policies. Some facilities supply food, but many request you provide your feline’s favoritewhen you drop off your pet. Even if your facility does provide food and treats for your pet, it’s a good idea to bring your own. Introducing new food or treats can cause your pet to have an upset stomach, even if it’s for a short time.
Boarding facilities should have a play area with lots of items to stimulate your cat’s body and mind. Good facilities will have staff who will interact with your pet several times each day and monitor all playrooms during group activities. If your cat will be at home during your time away, consider leaving the blinds up to give your pet something to watch during the day or leave the radio on low so the house is not so quiet. Provide toys such as cat trees, balls, puzzle boxes, and soft toys for your pet to play with when they’re ready.
No one wants to say goodbye to their furry friends, even for a short period of time, but sometimes, it’s just impossible not to. Following these tips will make the process as painless as possible for both you and your cat, and before you know it, you two will be reunited again!