Going on vacation- what to do with cat?

habs4lifeSeptember 23, 2010


First of all, I'm sure this has been asked before, so I apologize. I just want to ask someone who is experienced and who may have already been in this situation before.

Here is the story..it's pretty simple.

I'm going on vacation for 12 days in a few weeks. I have a one year old cat who has never been alone for more than maybe a day and a half before. There is always someone home with him. I work opposite shifts from everyone else at home, so when I'm gone, the others come home, and the other way around. Anyway, this time everyone will be on vacation.

I asked my neighbor if he could come in to feed the cat once a day, to which he said yes. I was alright with it until I stopped to think about it. I know my neighbor will give him food and make sure he's alive and well, but I don't think he will really sit there, pet him and play with him. My worst fear is that my cat will go crazy, get hurt, sick, etc while I'm gone. My cat loves attention and I just can't imagine what he will do with no contact other than a few minutes a day for that long. At this point in time I'm even considering boarding him, although I've read that it may not be the best thing to do. Has anyone been through this, or can anyone offer me any kind of advice? I can't go on this trip and worry about him the whole time. I need to know that he will be safe and alright, but unfortunately I don't know what my best option is. Thanks in advance for everyone's replies!

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12 days sounds like an awfully long time for a single cat to be alone. I don't know where you live, so, I don't know what facilities are near you.

Here are some options:

1) Some cities have Cat Hotels

2) Can someone you trust house-sit?

3) Boarding at a vet

4) As you said--have someone come in once a day

I boarded my cat at the vet's once for 3 days, and, I cut my trip short to come rescue her because the vet said she was unhappy--she stuck to me like velcro for days after I brought her back home. I haven't gone away since; hadn't done it before. With that said, however, I might feel safer to have the cat boarded. At least you know the cat will be safe.

It's a tough situation. If you decide to board your cat, bring your cat's favorite toy(s), favorite food (plenty), and a blanket, tee-shirt or towel that you've slept in to put in his cage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of a Cat Hotel

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 4:29AM
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I think boarding is probably a good option for you otherwise it does sound as if you are going to worry while you're gone. Most cats don't like being out of their comfort zone but with boarding he will be safe and you will have peace of mind and catterys usually have a vet that they use and contact in emergencies. As bbaird said, take your cats favourite blanket and also a piece of clothing that you've worn and smells like YOU, it's amazing how settled animals can be when they can at least have familiar smells with them.

a few years ago we left our cat at home for 2 weeks with a relative checking in on her and feeding and when we got back she had been stressing out so much that her hair was falling out, seriously the top of her head was just a few tufty patches of hair left. At first we thought she had some skin condition but once we got back it just started growing back again :) She's actually been much happier when staying in boarding for some reason.

You know your cat better than anyone else, and for cats that are used to spending a lot of time alone, staying at home and having someone check in works well but I think from your perspective you don't feel comfortable leaving her at home unsupervised so it may not be the best option for you so unless you can get someone to housesit and spend time with her, boarding might be a better idea.

If you do decide to leave her in the neighbours care, please make sure they have your vets details just in case, and a contact number for you or a relative if possible so that if any veterinary decisions need to be made, your neighbour has someone to confer with and doesnt have to make any important decisions on your behalf which can be quite daunting if anything happens because of veterinary costs.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 4:54AM
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Boarding seems to be much more stressful than staying at home. I leave for Russia every year , for 2 to 3 weeks, and my good friend comes by to feed and scoop.

Cats can easily manage 12 days without human interaction. As long as they have a few toys, a nice window to look out from,clean water and food, and the person stopping by can check if the cat appears alive and in good spirits, two weeks will fly by for the cat no problems.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 11:30AM
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I agree.........although some cats crave contact with humans on a regular basis, it's often with select humans and not humans in general. Cats are very sensitive to their surroundings and often do better without their humans in familiar surroundings than in unfamiliar territory with humans they do know (like visiting at the vets) or worse yet, in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people.

What you may consider is to give your vet a head's up that your cat may be brought in by another party if needed and he/she has the authority to do it for care or boarding. Then let your neighbor take over. It may fly very well and he'll have no difficulties. If he does, however, he can take the cat to the vet for boarding with your prior permission. If this happens, the cat may stop eating for awhile and do their separation thing, but it would be monitored and they won't let the situation get too out of hand.

The important thing for a twelve day hiatus, is that the person whom you trust to feed your cat is completely trustworthy to actually come in and do it on a daily basis. You may want to take their phone number and make a call every three days to monitor their success. I have routinely done this for my daughter and her spouse when they travel out of country, and even though the cats know me well..........they will do the hiding routine for the first couple days. So, if your neighbor is not familiar with cat quirks, remind him to check the food dish/water dish/ and contents of the cat's pan to make sure the contents of the appropriate receptacles are either disappearing or accumulating. LOL. He may never even catch sight of the cat, is what I am saying.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 12:48PM
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I am in the same boat at times. I am always home and my four year old cat has only spent one night home alone in his life.

Anyhow, when we go away he goes to my mother's house. He usually hides the first day or two then gets adjusted. She has no other pets and only lives 10 minutes away.

At other times, I have had someone stay at my house while I was gone.

I also worry that my cat will be stressed and lonely if left alone.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 4:03PM
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Like you, I have a cat that is used to someone always being in the house. If she wakes from a nap and can't find us she immediately start mewing and when we call her she comes galloping to us.

I would first consider a house sitter before I would board. The sitters usually have other jobs and will be away from the home during the day, but at least they would be there with your cat during the evening and thru the night. I'd also have the sitter leave the TV on when he/she is gone.

Ask you vet if anyone in his office house sits and if they don't have anyone, ask for referrals.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 4:19PM
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There is no perfect answer, but having her stay in your home is far better than boarding her. If you do that, she may never be the same when you return. Boarding for cats is fine if done on a regular basis from the time they are kittens, but I think you are better off having someone come in once a day to check on her.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 5:09PM
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Here's another idea for you that one of our friend's does with his dogs- depending on if it is workable for you:

He has 2 parties who both come take care of the dogs. Sometimes both people will visit the dog on the same day, sometimes just 1 person, but it does give the animal more opportunities for contact, and it is an insurance policy against something happening to one of the caregivers. In this case, it is DH and myself, and also our friend's father. DH and I are officially on weekday shifts, but if we are nearby their house during the weekend, we stop as well. By the same token, his father will often be in the area during the weekdays and will stop and visit with the dogs. It is an easy set up because we know his father well, so it would not be awkward if we ran into each other at the house at the same time (though it has never happened). On occasion they have even had a 3rd party who might stop by from time to time. All parties involved know the names and cars of the others, as well as phone numbers.

If you have someone else you trust to stop by a few times and give your cat some attention, that could be a nice set up which allows your cat to stay in his comfort zone, but hopefully not get too lonely. Especially if someone you know has pets too, you can make it a trade off that the next time they are gone you can stop by and visit/care for their animals.

Good luck with your plans.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 5:13PM
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DH & I travel quite a bit and it is just as stressful on us because of our 2 cats, 1 is quite fearful of people so it greatly limits our options.

If, and whenever possible, keep your cats in their home. This is what they are familiar with; the smells, noises, and environment are what they are accustomed to. Even if you have to get strangers to come in to feed and water, they will be familiar with areas to go to "hide" until they feel comfortable to come out.

Taking them to a boarding facility greatly increases their fear & anxiety because they have none of the familiarity they are so accustomed to, plus they are dealing with strangers and have "no where to hide". In addition, the cats are kept in cages - and anybody with a cat knows how stressful that is for a cat. Cats DO NOT like to be caged (how much do they bug you when you try to use the bathroom and close the door? LOL)

An additional issue with boarding facilities, is that having multiple cats confined in kennels, is a health issue if any other cat has undiagnosed health issues.

Having said all this, if at all possible, please try to keep your cat at home where s/he is comfortable. Do you have other friends that can check in? Or family? Or anybody that you trust to stay there in your absence? Our sister-in-law "lives" here while we are gone.

Lastly, go on your vacation and have fun! I can assure you there is nothing more heart-warming than your cat coming to love on you when you get home. They will very vocally tell you all about what they did during your absence.

Nothing like the love from your buddy!


    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 8:01PM
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When I had one cat (a male Persian) who I used to board. He did fine. I found a nice place that took only cats (I didn't know how he would respond to the sounds of barking dogs) and the woman took great care of him. I presently have two Ragdolls and won't board them. My female especially would not handle it well. She is sort of a scaredy cat. Loud noises, unknown things, etc., cause her to hide. My boy cat is much more "sturdy", he would be fine.

So, what is your cat's personality. Does he have a resilient personality, or is he a "hider"? If he is not the fearful type I would board him...but choose carefully.

Have you considered getting another cat? I would be good company for the one you have now.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 8:41PM
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Thanks everyone for your replies so far!! I feel a lot better about leaving him at home. Sue36, he's the scaredy type as well. He's scared of loud noises, always runs and hides under the bed. He's also scared of strangers and he's pretty picky about who he likes in general. He lets some people pet him, while others he just stays away from them period. I think it would be a good idea to leave him at home because it's a huge house, so he can run around while I'm gone. I just know that when I'm gone for more than a few hours at a time, he's very excited when I get home. I can't imagine 12 days. My neighbor will check on him and make sure he's alive and all, but I don't know if that'll be enough contact for the cat. My biggest fear is that something will happen to him while I'm gone.. he gets sick, or hurt, or just depressed. I just don't know how I can go on the trip and not worry. Also, I unfortunately do not have any friends or anyone else who can check on him other than my neighbor.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 1:57AM
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Thank you so much for initiating this post. Can you please update me about how your cat was when you returned? I will be leaving for 3 weeks in May and will also rely on my neighbor. I have the same concerns you had. Just curious if you felt your cat appeared depressed or distraught? Thanks Abby

    Bookmark   January 20, 2015 at 12:18PM
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Just to reiterate what's already been said- a cat does better in it's own environment. Have pet sitter come visit a few times while you're around and show that person the ropes - what your cat likes, toys, etc. Ive found that my cats will accept someone combing or brushing them more readily than being touched or petted with the hand of a stranger. That kind of interaction helps them to not feel abandoned. Once they see they're being cared for on a regular basis they generally are fine with it and will even bond to some extent with the person feeding them. If you have tv or radio on a lot while your at home put these on a timer so they come on at the usual times.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 10:16AM
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