4 min.

Cats and vacations: what's the best solution?

The time to prepare the last details for the holidays has arrived. The family knows where and how long it will stay, but what about kitty? While it’s common to look for a kennel to keep the family dog, how can we make sure that our feline companion is comfortable during our absence?

Take him on a trip

As a general rule, cats are not happy to leave home and be driven around. While it’s possible for some to tolerate these trips because they have been well trained for it or for some individuals with a more adventurous personality, travel may cause them more stress than enjoyment. We must understand that our feline friends most likely do not feel this need to escape in the summer! On the contrary, reassured and comfortable in their routine and stable environment that is home, they will need time to adapt to a new place. So, if the trip is short, it’s not worth it to gradually integrate a cat into a new habitat.

Leave him at home

Leaving your cat at home is the best option if you want him to live well during your absence, provided that your stay is no longer than about two weeks. However, a trusted person will have to be able to come to visit him frequently, ideally every day! It will also be necessary to provide a detailed list with the contact information of important people (veterinarian, second person available to visit the cat if there is a problem, etc.) as well as a description of the habits and procedures relating to care (quantity and type of food, meal frequency, favourite toys, guidelines for litter cleaning, etc.) Although cats are quite independent by nature, it should not be forgotten that they need social interaction and entertainment on top of their primary needs. The sitter will have to not only change the water, offer food, and clean the litter, but also play and interact with him in line with the cat’s level of comfort. If he is stressed out, the sitter should not force him into handling or physical contact, but rather gain his confidence with games or food.

Opt for cat boarding

If the trip is longer than two weeks, the cat should be temporarily relocated so that he can benefit from closer monitoring, as well as more social interaction. So staying with a loved one or a cat boarding service will be a better choice. Note that some veterinarians also offer pet boarding. In order to reduce stress, it will be recommended that the cat be isolated from other animals and be housed in a feline environment. The chosen location will have hiding places, reacheable heights, scratching posts, interactive stations for food, games, litter boxes of adequate size, etc. In addition, the person in charge will have to be able to visit him often and to interact with him as if he were being visited at home.

Note that for cats with medical conditions, it will first be necessary to confirm with your veterinarian what options are available and choose a place where people will be able to follow up and administer medication correctly, if necessary.

Will he get bored?

As the family will be away, it will be important for the cat to quickly establish a routine in these new circumstances, whether at home or elsewhere. It may be helpful to tune the radio onto a spoken channel rather than a music channel. Since the human voice is a familiar sound and the shows are presented according to a fixed schedule, it may help the cat adopt a routine similar to what he gets from the members of the family. Moreover, offering him several activities will make sure that he will be busy in your absence. So all types of additions to the home or to the reception room are welcome: Cat trees, access to windows, interactive bowls for food, “treasure hunts” with treats or food hidden throughout the house, olfactory and visual enrichment (moving lights, video of birds), etc.

Finally, it is difficult to prove that a cat will miss “his” humans according to the definition we make of emotional boredom, of melancholy. On the other hand, we can certainly say that a cat left alone for several days without activities will become bored with inactivity.

The return to the normal routine

Contrary to popular belief, the cat will not ignore you on your return to make you “pay” for having him left alone! In fact, he will probably have established a new routine in your absence and will have to adapt again as soon as you arrive. It is possible that all these changes in such a short time cause him stress, and you may observe changes in his behaviour. If so, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian after you return to ensure the health of your furry companion!

Enjoy your vacation!