For most of us, the holiday season is a great time – travelling abroad, exploring new cultures and enjoying the good life. But what about our pets? Dogs can sometimes accompany the family on holiday but very few cats are adventurous enough to travel with us to unfamiliar destinations. For cats, the holiday season can be far from relaxing. The holiday arrangement that best suits you and your cat is, of course, a matter of personal choice. The only option you should always avoid is leaving your cat alone and unsupervised, even if you provide plenty of food and litter trays.
A much better option is to arrange for a reliable person to come and take care of your cat in its familiar surroundings. There your cat will feel safe and will know the environment, smells and hiding places. It’s essential that you have complete confidence in the sitter you choose, as they will be in your home while you’re away. Your cat should also react positively to the person you have chosen. It is best to test this out well in advance, not when your suitcases are already packed. The best choice is someone who has cats or knows them well, so both you and your cat can benefit from their knowledge and experience. If your chosen sitter has a cat of their own, you may be able to return the favour on another occasion.
So, an ideal sitter is someone you already know, but what if there’s no one available in your circle of friends? Many pet-sitters offer their services online. However, before you commit to a sitter, you should carefully evaluate them in a face-to-face meeting. Don’t just focus on what they tell you – observe how they behave towards you and, more importantly, towards your cat.
Whoever is eventually chosen as your sitter, they should visit your cat twice a day. Feeding, cleaning the litter tray and playing with your cat should all be part of the routine.
If you don’t like the idea of giving a stranger the keys to your home, you can arrange for your cat to stay at a local cattery instead. However, the quality of boarding facilities varies, so make sure you have a chance to look around the cattery and ask questions before you make a booking. For example the accommodation should be spacious and clean. The cats should be kept in the social setting they are accustomed to at home, so not in groups with strange animals. There should be plenty of food and clean water and the staff should be able to talk you through the daily routine. They should also ask you questions about your cat’s character, dietary needs, vaccinations and veterinary details.
Most of the time, cat-sitters or catteries work out well for cats and owners alike. But what should you do if your sitter backs out unexpectedly, or if the hotel contacts you in the middle of your holiday and asks you to pick up your cat? In exceptional circumstances like these, the only responsible option is to cut short the holiday and return to your cat. To plan ahead for such events it is always best to have in place a contingency should this situation occur.