Will My Cat Be Upset While I Travel?
Keep Kitty Happy While You’re Away
Do cats get lonely? Will my cat get upset, or will he just sleep all day while I am gone? Cats don’t usually travel well, and they don’t like strange places either. So what do you do with Kitty when it’s vacation time, and how do you not feel guilty for going away?
In this 2-part series, we’ll explain how to vacation and leave your cat happy at home.
by Linda Hall and Rita Reimers, Cat Behavior Experts
Linda was recently asked on Quora, “Will my cat be distraught when I leave on vacation?”. Sadly, cats hate change and do not approve of your absence. Your cat will know you are gone and may become upset. But don’t worry! We can help with this!
So the answer to the question is, do cats get lonely, is Yes, they do. But you can help prevent it. The first step is choosing cat care while you are gone.
Choosing the Right Cat Care
We know that cats feel lonely when home alone, so providing the right type of care in your absence is essential to his mental well being. After all, you want him to be as happy as possible while you’re gone. Plus, you deserve to enjoy your vacation without worry.
Will you use a cat boarding facility?
There are many great cat boarding facilities out there. Do your research and check the reviews. Visit the facility and look around. Ask about their cleaning protocol and read the cleaning logs. Listen for noises like barking dogs. If there is too much commotion, you’re cat won’t just be lonely, he will also be scared.
Remember that new sights, scents and sounds can cause anxiety for your cat. When a cat is stressed, they often eat and drink less, so you should less the boarders know how much your cat normally consumes. By knowing what is normal for your cat, they can watch for changes in behavior.
Is cat care by friends and family enough?
Many people rely on friends or family for their cat care. These people can be a great resource as your cat already knows them, which may make kitty more comfortable.
However, there can be issues. If they just come, feed, and leave, your cat will get lonely and may even become depressed. Be sure it is someone you trust, who knows about and loves cats.
Plan for what will happen if your friend suddenly gets ill or has an emergency; who will take over caring for your cat? Designate a back up person who agrees to jump in if needed. Make sure both the primary and back up person have all of the information they need to properly care for your cat, and provide each with their own key. This will also be helpful if the key breaks or gets locked in while you are gone. Yes, we have seen this happen!
Should you choose a professional cat sitter?
There are some awesome businesses who provide professional sitters. Our purr-sonal choice is a company that deals only with kitties, as they are specialists! As previous owners of a cats only pet care business, Just For Cats, for many years, we understood the value our sitters provided and the peace of mind our clients had. We understood cats do not thrive well alone, and in fact many cats get lonely when left on their own for too long.
When it was time to sell our company so we could focus on cat behavior issues, we did a lot of research and chose Meowtel; they have similar goals and are also “cat only” specialists.
We will share our suggestions for choosing your sitter in Part 2, including what your sitter needs to know, what you should ask before hiring a sitter, and what you should look for in a professional cat care provider!
Prevent Cat Your Cat From Getting Lonely
Take Shorter Trips First
Preparing for your absence will help your cat to not be too bored and lonely while you are gone. If you are going on a long trip, try taking a shorter trip first to get him accustomed to your absence and better acquainted with his caretaker.
One former cat sitting client we had at Just For Cats was nervous about leaving her fur baby for a month. She started months ahead with an overnight trip. A few weeks later she had us care for her cat while she left for a weekend. She gradually made her trips longer to help her cat adjust to her leaving and coming back and to get acquainted with his new friend. Her cat and his caregiver were best friends by the time she had to go on her long trip.
Provide Stimulating Self-Play Cat Toys
Your kitty will be spending time alone in between visits with their caretakers, and your cat may get lonely and become bored during those times. Boredom can lead to bad behaviors so let’s keep kitty busy! Banish boredom by picking up a few new toys for him to play with when you leave. Put some of the toys in a cupboard, so your caregiver can give kitty a new one every couple of days. New toys will keep him happy and occupied. You can also pick up some of his toys ahead of time and put them away until you leave. If they haven’t seen them in a while, they can seem like new!
Create a Calm Atmosphere
Cats may get lonely when the house is too quiet and you aren’t around to snuggle. Try putting on some calming music, like streaming Music For Cats on your smart tv or iPad. You can also stream Relax My Cat on YouTube, which also provides visual stimulation. These videos show birds at a feeder, and an aquarium to keep your kitty entertained. The music and visuals help to keep kitty calm and his mind occupied.
Coming Home to a Cool Cat
Your kitty may run to you and act love starved when you return home. Sometimes cats do the opposite and will steer clear for awhile. They may do a slow walk away or sit with their back to your for a while, telling you he was missing you and maybe he is still a little upset. It helps to come in singing the cat’s name, and being ready for their love!
This does not mean your sitter was bad and kitty was miserable. It was a change for him when you left, and your cat didn’t understand why you were gone. Now, it’s a change when you come back, although he is glad you’re home.
Also, you smell funny! No, I’m not saying you smell badly! You are carrying the smells of the places you have been instead of the “home” smell.
Bring him a special gift from your travels, and be patient. You two will be cuddling up together again soon!
Be sure to read Part Two: How to Choose a Cat Sitter