Would anyone leave 2 cats alone for 5 days?

lizzie_nhJuly 2, 2010

Hi everyone, I have a dilemma. I know this general question has been answered before, but I am looking for new responses to my specific details.

I have two cats - brother and sister, 6 years old. My husband and I travel often, and usually bring the cats to my parents' house (which is less than ideal, anyway, since it's a 2.5 hour car ride away and on top of that my cats have to deal with my parents' two cats.) We just haven't wanted to board them - the cats get so stressed even going to a familiar but different environment that I don't think they could deal with even the best kennel (one where they could be together, get playtime during the day, etc..)

We recently were gone for only a long weekend - Saturday morning through Monday afternoon. We left them at home with a clean litterbox, two self-feeders for food, and two self-waterers. They had plenty of places in the house to roam, and we left blinds up in their favorite windows so they could sit in the sills... we left some upstairs windows open so they could get fresh air. They also got plenty of sunlight in the kitchen, where the patio door is not covered in any way so it's basically a wide floor-to-ceiling window. Our house is on a large lot surrounded by trees, so the cats have a lot to look at.

We came back on Monday and the cats were just lounging, and didn't seem stressed. They didn't even seem unusually happy to see us, even though they are extremely affectionate cats.

Later this month, we have to go to a family event across the country and my parents will also be attending. We really don't know any of our neighbors and none of our coworkers or friends live close enough by to check in on the cats. Boarding them may be the only option... but I am wondering if anyone thinks it would be okay to leave them alone for 5 days, with all of the above precautions taken? We would leave even more self-feeders and self-waterers, and at least one more litter box.


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Why not hire a pet sitter to check on them? If you are considering the expense of boarding, pet sitters are usually less expensive than boarding, and your cats get to stay in their home. They will come by once a day and check on/play with your cats.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 8:39AM
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You might get a neighborhood kid to check on them a couple of times during the 5 days - but what about the litter box? We use a kiddie pool and still I can't imagine not cleaning it for 5 days.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 8:55AM
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(Unrelated to the above response - added detail - I forgot to mention that these are indoor cats.)

Thanks - I don't know, my husband has a thing about strangers being in our house. We actually have a "country vet" maybe 1/2 mile down the road (open one day a week, appointments only... seems to be semi-retired) and I suggested seeing if someone there could just come check on the cats a few times, and he didn't like that idea. The other thing with that is that these cats are TERRIBLE with strangers. If someone they don't know comes to the house, even with us there, they will run and hide and not come out until well after the person has left. Yet when strangers are not around, they are totally relaxed and affectionate. A pet sitter isn't a bad idea though, if only to come and check on the food situation. We'll see.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 8:59AM
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carmen-grower - they currently share a large litter box. I was thinking of adding one or two other litter boxes (although I don't know for sure that they would use them, or evenly spread out usage.)

We don't seem to have any neighborhood kids! We live on a country road and the houses are far apart and from what we can tell our neighbors are all retirees.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 9:02AM
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We on the other hand have two Welsh Corgis which for obvious reasons cannot be left alone for more than several hours. We have been using a house/dog setter for a couple of years with great success. The guys really like him and always greet him happily. If your husband has a problem with people coming into the house, perhaps someone with references might make him feel better. I look in on a neighbor's cat when they travel. IMO, leaving cats unattended for 5 days is really streshing it.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 9:34AM
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Yeah, I am thinking it's stretching it too. Just wondering if anyone has done it with any success. I did find a place near us which seems really good... the cats have large multi-level "cat condos" and can wander around in a playroom and outside in a fenced-in area during the day. Still, I'm worried my cats will be totally terrified, and also fight with the other cats. Apparently one of my cats (the female) can be quite the bully around my parents' cats.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 10:32AM
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Cats are bonded to their home more than to their people, so will always do better at home if you need to travel. I wouldn't worry about being frightened of a sitter, if they hide while the sitter is doing food/water duty or scooping the boxes, they'll come out when she leaves. After a few days, they may actually greet her and want to be petted. Check with one of your neighbors, it's time you befriended them as they can also keep an eye out on your home while you're gone :) You may find they have cats too and are happy to help you out by checking on yours once or twice a day.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 10:37AM
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Our pet sitter works in our vet's office. She's been doing it for years (way before we started having her pet sit for us), and has worked at the animal hospital for years, so we do trust lending her our key (we get it back from her when we come back) and having her in our home while we are away.

There are bonded/insured pet sitters out there, so that might be an option if there's nobody at your vet's office to use. Even though your husband isn't comfortable having someone in the house, it's still a really good idea to have someone checking on both the house and the cats if you're gone more than a day or two.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:02AM
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Lizzie, I am currently watching a friend's cat that is in a neighboring county (about 30 mile round trip), while the family is on vacation. They will be gone for 8 days and I am making two visits.

I really don't mind the drive and am happy to help out friends. I suspect you probably have some friends or co-workers your husband would trust who would be happy to help you out. Don't be afraid to ask them.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:34AM
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I have left cats alone for a week. It's less stressful than changing housing.

Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that they have plenty of litter boxes and that they can't get shut in a room with no food or litter. We close all the bedrooms and block the door to the litter area open with a heavy object.

Put down plenty of food and water. This is where having a cat that prefers kibble is good. Big, heavy water pans are best.

Make sure they have a couple of soft spots to sleep, scratching posts, toys and stow the fragile stuff so they can't knock it off if they get bored.

Have a neighbor or friend check on them a couple of times and they will be just fine.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:38AM
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Nope, I would never leave my cats alone for that long. Two days, yes, but 5 days is too long, IMHO.

I'd recommend looking into getting a cat sitter. Your vet should know of a good one. Make sure they're bonded; I've used many cat sitters over the years, and never had an issue. My cat is terrified of people as well, and always runs and hides when the cat sitter comes, but at least she's checking on him, and making sure he has food and water, and isn't stuck in a room.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 1:10PM
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We have a wonderful pet nanny who was referred to us by our vet. I'm usually the one travelling, but my husband works long hours, so someone needs to visit the dogs during the day.
Now I think the dogs look forward to my leaving. They greet the pet nanny as if she's a long lost friend.
After the first couple of visits, we let her keep the extra key - rather than hiding it outside or making extra trips to give it to her.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 2:05PM
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I leave my five cats two days and one night w/o anyone checking them. I don't like strangers in my house either but if you have a friend you trust to come by every other day, I think they will be fine. Make sure they have many untipable bowls of water and food and many litter boxes. Mine have seven all the time but I would add more to yours. Cats do much better left in their home. Cats do not like change one bit. I would never think of boarding my cats. Now if someone could just figure what I should do with two dogs for two days and one night MY problem would be solved. I don't want to board them, and I hate to ask people to walk and feed a few times a day. Cats are way easier.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 3:16PM
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I have found most of my pet sitters thru the vet's office and often it's the vet tech pet sitting as a second job.

I would not leave them alone. Even tho we don't like to think about it, there's always the chance an emergency could come up or something could happen to one or both of you. No one would be aware of 2 cats sitting in your household, especially if they tend to hide.
The other advantage of a sitter is someone would be checking to make sure they they're eating and using the litter box. There's always the chance something could happen to one of them.

Tell DH to hide your valuables and if doors to certain rooms lock, then lock them.
I've never had any problems with sitters and I 'have' had emergencies occur where they had to step in and watch my animals for a longer period.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 4:11PM
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If it were me, I would board them with the vet.

They may not like it, but they would be safe.

My worst nightmare would be to leave our cats at home, with or without a pet sitter, and come home to tragedy.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 6:23PM
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My two cats have never been boarded (and never will be). The receptionist at our vet's office (she is a vet tech) pet sits them (as another posted mentioned, she has this as a side business). I found her by calling the vet's office and asking if they could recommend someone, and she mentioned that she does it. I will leave them one night without a visit, but no more than that. I can't imagine what the litter boxes would look like after 5 days. I would be worried about them developing litter box issues (eliminating somewhere else) if forced to use an unchanged box for 5 days.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 9:21PM
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I would not be comfortable with a five day absence with cats. If either of them got sick suddenly can you imagine it laying there five days suffering? I have also extricated several of my cats from compromising situations where they've tried to climb fabric and gotten their claws entangled and hung until rescued. Had a cat get hung up in closed venetian blinds trying to climb through them to sit in a window. Even found where one had been chewing an electrical cord. Not a kitten either.......a grown cat who just felt like it I guess.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 9:31PM
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I also have two cats and have often left them for 5 days without attention. 5 is my limit, I always have someone check if I'll be gone longer than that. I know they would prefer that I were at home, but I also know they would HATE to be moved 2.5 hours for any reason, and they would HATE to have to stay someplace other than their own hoe.

Ideally, someone would stop by once or twice in the middle of that, but it sounds like your husband won't go along with that. I agree with the previous posters that you can find someone very reliable and trustworthy from your vet, but I'm assuming this isn't really an option for you.

If you kennel them or move them to your parents, you will end up with two very stressed and very miserable cats. Yes, they'll be well fed and have perfectly clean litter, but they will be unhappy the entire time. If you leave out plenty of food and water, and make sure they have a couple litter boxes, they will be completely fine when you get home.

Good luck with whatever you choose--cats can never hold a grudge very long anyway. ;)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 8:07PM
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Personally, I wouldn't leave my cat alone for 5 days. At most I would leave him alone for a 3 day weekend, but anymore than that then I would boarding him somewhere. That being said, I have heard people leaving their cats for 5 days before and it was ok. However, even when I go on just a 1 day / 1 overnight trip I still leave out 2 litter boxes for my single cat. So with 2 cats for 5 days I would be inclined to leave at least 4-5 litter boxes out for them. I also use an auto-feeder and definitely keep out a surplus of water. Cats can go a long time without food, but water is key! Really though, you should hire someone to peek in on them at last every other day to check on them. There could be some unforeseen health issue that happens while you are away.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 3:57PM
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I guess those of you who leave your cats alone without no one coming in must not feed them wet food! My kitty is used to his wet food twice a day so it would be hard to let him go days without it.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 10:43AM
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