How long can you leave cats unattended? Most experts agree, don’t go away for longer than an overnight stay without having someone check on Kitty. Climbers can fall or tip furniture over, a caught toenail can result in a cat with one leg hung up on the chair and no way to get undone, the water bowl gets tipped over or ants invade the food bowl – and Kitty is in trouble.
While cats do take a lot of naps, they’ll become bored without companionship. Make sure Kitty has entertainment to prevent separation anxiety (is she ever coming home again?). A cat tree lets Kitty climb and look out the window. A video of birds, bees and mice will keep him entranced for an hour. Treats hidden around the house will let him have a scavenger hunt instead of clawing the couch just for something to do. Puzzle feeders work his brain as well as give him dinner. Make sure the thermostat is adjusted to the required room temperature as well.
For short trips, trade services with cat-minded friends and family but be sure they’re really reliable — no visiting friends or boyfriends, no parties or watching your pay-per-view. It’s a good idea to give Kitty caretakers their own alarm code which can be disabled after the visits end.
If a trip is for several days, hire a professional pet sitter who will make sure she sees Kitty daily, will put out fresh food and water, wash bowls, clean the litter box, bring in the mail and paper, and if you ask nicely, water the plants.
In either case, leave lots of notes about how much food to give, litterbox maintenance instructions, where Kitty naps or hides, how many treats are allowed, the vet’s contact information, what medications, when and in what dosage, an emergency contact number and especially in the case of elderly pets, what to do in a life threatening medical emergency. A letter with clear instructions, authorizing the pet sitter to act on your behalf if you can’t be reached, is a good idea.
Cats are not big on change but sometimes the best option is for them to be boarded at a kennel. Visit ahead of time and see what the accommodations are for Kitty. Ask if they provide your brand of food in the daily rate or if you need to bring your own. If Kitty takes medication, be specific on how much and how often. Also ask what the kennel’s emergency procedures are in case the animals have to be evacuated.
There are cats who are travelers. If you’re lucky enough to live with one, consider taking Kitty along. Dogs travel more often than cats but ask if the hotel allows pets, what airline rules are for flying with Kitty in the cabin, keep in mind that Kitty will need to use the litter box after several hours (and not while on the plane or train), keep him harnessed, have shot records handy and make sure he’s microchipped as well as wearing a collar. When staying in a hotel, leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door so there are no escapes. However, if you’ll be in meetings all day it would be better to let Kitty sit this trip out. Never give Kitty sedatives while traveling — it will lower his respiratory rate and could be life threatening.
Kitty doesn’t have to feel neglected and you don’t have to feel guilty about leaving once you think about what Kitty likes best and plan accordingly.
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