When You Go Away, Tell Your Cat to Play

If you’re vacationing and wondering what to do with your cat, you’re not alone. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, providing care for a pet while the pet owner is away is one of the greatest concerns for all pet owners.

Jacque (cq) Schultz, director of special projects and behavior specialist for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City, says your first choice is to find someone who your kitty knows, like Aunt Agatha, and prevail upon her good nature. If you have no willing friends, relatives or neighbors, consider a professional pet sitter. You can get a referral from your vet or call Pet Sitters International, 336-983-9222 or the National Association For Professional Pet Sitters, 800-296-PETS (7387).

However, Schultz says cats under a year old will get bored and into big trouble staying home alone an entire week without supervision. A pet sitter checking in once a day just isn’t enough supervision. If your cat is young, she says your only real options are imploring upon a sympathetic friend to stay at your house, or finding a kennel. (If your cat is under four months, it’s too also young to be kenneled).

Kennels are generally set up for canines. However, some do have feline apartments. “Kittens (over four months) do best – they adjust and may even enjoy themselves,” says Schultz. “For adults, if the barking noise level is overwhelming, they’ll have a tough time. Be sure the air exchange is set up so infectious diseases can’t easily be passed from cat to cat. Cats should not be able to rub up against other cats. Of course, be sure the facility is clean.”

Schultz suggests if you opt for a kennel, go away for a practice day to see how your cat handles it. Some kennels will discount for these rehearsal visits. Some vet offices will also kennel cats.

If you choose a professional pet sitter, make certain that person meets and plays with your cat before you depart. Take away your cat’s favorite toys about a week before you leave, and then take them out and present them in various places around the house just before you walk out the door. This is also a great time to bring out the catnip. Playing with interactive toys is another stress buster, so be sure to tell your pet sitter or your friend where you keep the Cat Dancer or fishing pole type-toy with feathers. Since the cat is under stress, to lessen the likelihood of accidents, make certain the sitter scoops the litter box daily. Pet sitters should know where your cat’s favorite places to hide are, how to get an extra set of keys, and of course the phone numbers of where you’re staying and your vet’s office.

Note: This article is copyrighted by Steve Dale and can be used as source material and for reference only. It cannot be reprinted verbatim. Please contact Steve Dale at [email protected] if you have any questions.

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