Will My Cat Be Happy At Home While I'm On Vacation?

See whether it's best to bring your cat with you on trips or to keep your cat occupied at home with these tips.

By By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC | Posted: November, 29, 2012, 12 p.m. EST

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Tuxedo Cat
Cats are happiest in their home. Get tips to keep them from being bored or lonely when by themselves.
Q: I am visiting a friend for a month and I know my cat, Tuxie, misses me when I am gone. Will she be happier if she came with me (13 hour car ride) or if she stayed at home? If she stays home, a house sitter will care for her. The house I'm going to has other cats.

A: Although Tuxie will miss you, your cat will be less anxious staying at home with a caring house sitter then going on a trip. Cats do not adjust well to change. In addition to the long road trip, visiting a home where other cats live would stress Tuxie as well as the resident cats. Cats are territorial — most do not appreciate a cat-stranger bunking in their home for a month.

You can take steps to reduce your cat's anxieties while you are away.

Scent
Before leaving on your trip, seal towels or articles of clothing that have your scent on them in separate plastic bags. Ask your house sitter to place a fresh article of scent-laden clothing on beds and other areas Tuxie sleeps every day.

Sound
The sound of your voice can help reassure Tuxie. As weird as this sounds, call your cat every day and talk to her. This will work only if you have a landline with a voice messaging system that has volume control. You can also make digital recordings that the house sitter or self-activated timers can play at specific times. A radio tuned to a talk program or a soft classical music station can also help relax your cat.

Surroundings
Mental and physical stimulation will aid in keeping Tuxie from becoming bored and help reduce anxieties in your absence. Provide your cat with interactive toys, such as ball and tract toys, puzzle boxes and treat balls. Your cat also needs vertical territory — tall cat trees, shelves and window perches to climb and nap on. Placing a comfortable cat tree next to a secure window will entertain her with the goings-on in the neighborhood

Support
In addition to maintaining food, water and the litterbox duties, ask the house sitter to spend time every day playing, grooming and cuddling Tuxie.

Understandably, you will miss Tuxie while you travel. Technology can help you feel better about being away from your cat. You can set up web cams to record specific areas, stationing one camera where Tuxie eats and one where she sleeps. You can then log in from any computer to watch Tuxie in real time. Another, less expensive and simpler, option is to have your house sitter take pictures of Tuxie and e-mail them to you. 
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Reader Comments

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

8/19/2013 7:48:29 AM

thanks

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

12/19/2012 11:38:04 PM

Sounds like great advice but if I lived near Reno I'd use Tricia!

Tricia    Reno, NV

12/9/2012 3:07:00 AM

Lots of good tips, HOWEVER, I totally and I mean TOTALLY disagree that cats do best at home. I have been boarding cats for 18 years and after 24 hours with us, they realize that they aren't at the VETS (the only place owners take them!) and we become their second home. Look for a boarding cattery in your area. Our HIDEOUT CATTERY is in our home and we become each cat's Auntie and Uncle. We have boarded 8 week old kittens to 22-year old seniors. Each cat has their own Cabin, but can come out daily into the Playroom for exercise and to play with us or have lap-time. Each cat guest gets individual attention (no mingling) and they ALL thrive on the attention. We play soft music, provide aromatherapy, and continue the spoiling process their owners have started. Our cat guests are all neutered or spayed and current on their FVRCP vaccinations. All are healthy when they come and when they go home. Their owners report that they are relaxed when they get back home (after sniffing out the house to be sure it is as they left it!) Since we monitor them closely, we have even spotted health problems that the owner isn't aware of! Since we don't have a cat of our own, we give long term boarders house priviliges---they watch TV and sleep with us. Check out our website www.hideoutcattery.com (read Horror stories & Success stories!) and then Google cat boarding to see what is available in your area. Do not board at Veterinary hospitals or Dog Kennels. Look for cats-only Boarding Catteries. They are out there. Having been a Pet Sitter, I know that your cat will only get 1/2 to 1 hour of attention a day which means it will be ALONE for 23 hours a day. That translates to abandonment to a cat!

Sharon    Queens, NY

12/8/2012 10:31:59 AM

It was great. I frequently travel and I appreciated the extra tips that I can use to make them, and me feel better.

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