There’s nothing quite like unwinding on the beach in the summer, hitting the slopes at your favorite ski resort in the chillier months, or simply going to spend some time with your far-away family. However, if you’re a pet owner, you probably feel pretty restricted when it comes to making and executing travel plans of any sort if they’re likely to last more than a day or two.
If you happen to be a cat owner, you might just be in luck. Cats tend to be much more independent by nature, and therefore you can leave them at home alone more easily, and without worrying as much about their safety and happiness. However, that doesn’t mean you can just leave your cat without taking special precautions. In fact, if you intend to leave your cat at home while you’re away for more than a few days, there are several steps you need to take in order to ensure that your feline friend is happy and healthy the entire time.
1. Hire a pet sitter. While this might seem like simply another expense, it’s always smart to have someone who’s going to check in on your kitty each and every day. This way, if your cat happens to get trapped in a room, unexpectedly runs out of food or water or gets sick, you’ll have someone who can help them out while you’re away.
2. Don’t only give a key to your home to your pet sitter, but give one to a good friend or other family member as well. This way if something happens and your pet sitter can’t make it to your house for a few days, you’ve got a backup.
3. Invest in a couple of water dispensers. While it might seem fine to just leave a water bowl, the truth is that water often evaporates too quickly from these dishes, which could leave your kitty without water for an extended period of time. Having 2 water dispensers ensures your cat has a fresh supply of water at all times, and gives you a bit of room for error if one happens to malfunction.
4. Use trash cans, phone books or any other heavy objects you might have to block your interior doors completely or partially open. This allows your cat to have full access to the house while you’re away without fear of accidentally pushing a door closed and trapping themselves during their escapades.
5. If you happen to be particularly anxious about being separated from your furry friend, try setting up a couple of motion-activated webcams in places they’ll visit often, such as the water bowl and litter box areas. These cameras are typically tied to apps that you can access at any time, making getting visual confirmation of your cat’s safety easier than ever.
6. As a matter of safety, try to either put all house plants outside or relocate them to another room and close the door. Most common house plants are actually poisonous to cats, and while your pet might not normally chew on them, the stress of being at home alone could drive them to do so, potentially leading to serious illness.
7. Even if your cat isn’t known to chew on electrical cords, unplug any that they might be able to reach before you leave. Again, stress often leads cats to adopt temporary new behaviors like chewing, and cords tend to make a pretty target. For extra safety, consider using either a bitter spray or cat deterrent spray on your cords anyways, to keep both your cat and your cords safe from harm.
8. If you have a particularly rambunctious cat, you might want to consider removing lightbulbs from any lamps and other lighting sources that they might be likely to knock over during play. Broken bulbs could, of course, be a huge fire hazard.
9. While your sitter should be coming every day, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in an automatic pet feeder, just in case. Before you leave, you’ll insert a specified portion of food into each of the device’s compartments. At the same time each day, this food will be released into a bowl for the cat to eat. This is an excellent way to be absolutely sure that your feline friend is getting the nutrition they need while you’re gone.
10. Just in case there does happen to be an emergency, post your vet information on the fridge or in another obvious place where your sitter can locate it if necessary. Furthermore, leave behind a sum of cash to be used in emergencies.
11. If your cat happens to suffer from separation anxiety, you may want to leave a few of your own unwashed shirts or other clothing articles on your bed or in another easily accessible place. Your cat can use this scent as a means of calming themselves in your absence.
12. Leave your blinds up in most rooms. This will allow your cat to look outdoors throughout the day and provide plenty of excellent amusement opportunities – as well as sunshine to nap in – while you’re away on your vacation.
13. Leave a few lights on. This can include small lights, like those in the hallway and bathroom. This just helps to keep your cat’s surroundings more familiar, and ensures they feel safe while you’re away.
14. If your cat has anxiety about being alone, you might want to consider leaving a radio turned on at a very low volume. The voices coming from the system can help your cat feel as if there is someone else present.
15. If you’re going to be away during the winter, consider getting a safe space heater for your cat’s favorite room to help keep them comfy and happy in your absence.
While it might seem like a lot of work, it’s crucial to take each of these steps if you really want to ensure your cat’s safety and happiness while you’re away on vacation. Of course, you should always talk to your vet about your plans to get even more recommendations for your pet, and to ensure that they’re in proper health to be alone for an extended period of time.