Should I Board My Cat or Get a Sitter?

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger discusses how to care for your cat while you're on vacation.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC | Posted: June 25, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: My husband and I want to take a vacation in a couple of weeks, but we’re worried about our 6-year-old cat, Fuseli. We want to go somewhere for a few days, but our Fuseli has never been alone. Is it better to board him or have someone come to the house? What can we do to make it easier on him? I’m so worried about leaving him alone that I’m considering cancelling the vacation.

A: I recommend hiring a cat-centric pet sitter who can come to the house a couple of times a day to care for Fuseli. Fuseli will be less stressed in his home where he has his favorite places to sleep and he is familiar with all of its sounds and smells. A cat sitter who spends time during her twice-daily visits engaging Fuseli in activities he enjoys will help him adjust to your short time away from him. If he enjoys being groomed, then ask the cat sitter to groom him every day with his favorite brush. If Fuseli loves to play, then show the pet sitter his favorite toys and instruct her on how he enjoys being played with.

You can also enrich his environment so that he’s not bored while you are gone. Some commercially available DVDs are especially developed for cats. The videos show a variety of animals, such as birds, squirrels, mice and other small animals, that interest cats. Some cats also relax with classical music. Mozart is reputed as being very calming for cats. I have found Chopin’s piano pieces are relaxing as well. Fuseli will also appreciate being able to look out of windows at the neighborhood activities. Interactive toys such as ball and tract toys and puzzle boxes will also keep him busy. Fuseli might also appreciate a treat ball with a message. Treat balls are hollow plastic balls that are filled either with the cat’s favorite treat or dry food. In order to access the treats, Fuseli will have to roll the ball around. One type of treat ball has a recording device built into it, allowing you to record a special message for Fuseli. He’ll hear your familiar voice every time he pushes or hits the ball.

Additionally, before going on your trip, put the clothes you wore or slept in the night before on the places where Fuseli likes to hang out.

There is no need to cancel your vacation! You can enjoy your time away, knowing that Fuseli will be well-cared for in his own familiar home.

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