Long May weekend is coming, then few more holidays and finally the long awaited summer and vacation time. Let’s not forget that what is enjoyable for us is not necessarily pleasant for our pets so before each longer trip we should think of what to do with the cat while we are away.
How long can the cat stay alone in the house?
I get this question quite often but I think there is many more people who should be asking themselves this question and yet they never do. If you have cats and you care about them very much you should take into consideration not only your needs but also theirs. We cannot be egoistic and look for excuses; we need to be responsible.
The period between Christmas and summer vacation is the time when the most people want to adopt a cat. Everybody wants to postpone the adoption until after the summer and after the holidays. If you consider adopting and such thoughts occur to you maybe you shouldn’t adopt after all. If you are leaving on vacation this year and cat would be a problem what makes you think the situation will not repeat next year. Don’t fool yourself – if you get a cat you will have one extra problem before next vacation. Do not get me wrong I’m not saying that only people who never leave their house can have pets but you have to be honest with yourself when considering your options. What are you going to do with the cat when you are away? How long can the cat be left alone in the house?
Leaving the cat alone in the house
Is the most popular option among cat owners. Then once every two or three days a friend comes by to check on the cat, replenish the food and water and clean the litter box. Is this a good solution? Well everything depends on the character of our cat, the length of our vacation and how often we travel. To remain healthy, not suffer from depression and remain active cat needs to be challenged. Stimuli can be delivered by a man, another cat or the outside world. Before you leave a cat alone for 10 days try to get into his/her shoes. In general nothing wrong is happening to the cat but he/she does not know about it. First of all your cats do not know for how long you will be gone so they do not know if you are coming back to them. A friend who is stopping by for 20 minutes every third day is not enough as the cat remains bored. After such long period of loneliness cats can become either very passive and depressed or very aggressive. Either way their behavior changes and it is our fault.
Leaving the cat with friends or family members
Is another commonly chosen and unfortunately erroneous option. It seems that some cats do not have any issues with that solution especially if they are used to traveling and visiting other apartments from young age but this applies to only small percentage of cats. From the time we adopt a cat we rarely think of exposing him/her to different things (it is our mistake and I will write about this in a different article) so we shouldn’t be surprised how greatly shocked our cat is when we finally take him/her out of the house after few years. Cats are territorial animals and this characteristic creates few problems especially when cats are moved to another apartment for the period of vacation. If right after entering the temporary vacation home your cat hides in the darkest corner, jumps on the walls, meows in panic as if not knowing what is happening (well he/she does not know) it means the moving idea was not good. Let’s remember that leaving cat on its own territory is much better than taking it to your friends’ or family’s place. Of course there are cats that don’t mind being moved but I encountered maybe two such cats so far and that is a very small percentage.
Animal hotels or cat hotels
I visited a few more or less friendly or luxurious. They are quite pricey but you are doing it for your pet. One of the hotels impressed me in particular : cats had their own rooms, cots in the shape of little beds, they could go outside in the garden with a pond. The entire area was surrounded by safety net and beautifully decorated and the owner could watch his/her own cat as there was a camera in each room. But is all this necessary? Is serving sun-shaped food (vacation theme) satisfying our needs or our cat’s? I do not reject such places it is good they exist as they are much better than kicking out the cat to live in the street (do not think I’m jumping to extremes but simply throwing the animal out is a very common practice) but if I was to create a ranking of vacation home options hotel would be much below leaving cat in your own house. Taking cat to the hotel means again changing the place which is very stressful in spite of all the luxuries and often cat meets other animals for example dogs whose barking can traumatize our furry friend.
Leave the cats in the house or take them traveling with you?
This also is an option as we might think that taking the cat with us will make him/her feel safe but it is not true. Same as in the above situations you change cat’s environment and sometimes you need to fly to your destination and the conditions on board of planes are not very suitable for animals. Throughout the flight you can see how afraid the cat is and it takes your pleasure away.
So which is the best option? Well it seems none of the above is perfect…
Two cats in the house
In an earlier article “Cat duo pack” I wrote about the advantages of having two cats in the house. Let’s remember that cats are excellent at stimulating one another – they understand one another, like each other and play together. Obviously just like people some cats hate each other and whenever they are together they fight and cause trouble…here i’m talking about cats friends or siblings. The best solution is to adopt a cat duo pack but if you were not a fan of that solution and notice its possible advantages only after adopting one cat you can try to find a suitable companion for your pet. If you plan to introduce a second cat try to get to know him/her and see if they are a good fit for your cat to avoid territorial fighting or other issues. Of course the sooner you introduce the second cat the better. If you already have two cats who like each other and play together very well then you can go on vacation with almost clear conscience. I said “almost clear” because leaving cats alone in the house is never a great option but as long as somebody stops by to clean the litter regularly, replenishes food and water and cats are not very stressed out because they are staying in their familiar environment and have each other to play with then this is the best option. Two cats are better than one and the more the merrier.
I read many opinions about leaving cat alone while you are away on vacation and I also took care of many cats while their owners were away and I know that the owners’ absence is never good for the animal. However, just because you have a cat it does not mean you should give up going on vacation for 20 years or until the cat dies. There is a solution….just think of it ahead of time rather than two weeks before going away. We need to expose cats to different things, teach them things…simply we need to bring them up. If you don’t the lovely ball of fur might become a problem and your lack of knowledge is to be blamed for the situation.