Summer is finally here and it’s time for some well-deserved holidays, but a problem comes to mind: what shall we do with the cat? Do we take it with us? Do we leave it in a cat hostel? Do we call someone? Let’s see what are the possible solutions to go on vacation free of worries and sure that our cat will be alright!

First we need to clarify a really important point: no cat is similar to others!

Each animal is a unique individual with unique necessities. The possible solutions listed in this article will not fit every cat. It’s necessary to know one’s cat, and maybe let an expert help choose the best solution for its behavioural and emotional necessities.

  1. Solution n1: leaving the cat home alone with plenty of food and water.
    This solution is possible only for few days (I would say no more than three, but it depends on the situation) and only if the cat has been gradually accustomed to be left home alone for long periods of time. It’s very important to add one or two litter boxes, so the cat will not have to use a dirty litter box (with the obvious result that it will use the bed or the carpet instead!). You should put additional water bowls, so the cat will have plenty of water. Leave dry food, not wet food, you will avoid mould and ants. These recommendations need to be adjusted based on the number of cats. Before leaving check any possible source of danger in the house: gas, windows left ajar, food outside the fridge, medications left around… Not every cat will enjoy this type of solution.
  2. Solution n2: taking the cat to a cat hostel.
    Cat hostels can be both home based or structured businesses. It’s important to examine the place beforehand to see if it fits the cat’s specific needs. The hostel must have a private area for each cat, they cannot leave in a communal environment without privacy, it’s a health and safety requirement. In the case of promiscuity, it is essential to ensure the good state of health of all the animals present and compliance with all hygiene rules. In any case, every cat must be able to have sheltered places in which to hide if desired. Each private area must be sufficiently big and clean, with food and water bowls, a litter box (as far from the bowls as possible, or separated by a thin wall), a scratching post (possibly with high grounds), and a spot where the cat can hide. In order to adopt this solution, the cat must be up to date with vaccinations, accustomed to car trips, and meeting strangers. It’s advisable to leave with the cat an object with the smell of home (a blanket, a pillow, a carrier…). Hostels cause stress even to the most experienced cats, so it’s important that the hostel manager has the right expertise to help cats live this experience the best way possible. If the manager is capable and the hostel well organized, the cat will stay in a safe and welcoming environment, easily fitting in and avoiding a lot of stress. Not every cat will enjoy this type of solution.
  3. Solution n3: calling a pet sitter who will come daily to the house to take care of the cat.
    This will allow the cat to remain in a familiar environment without being alone. We need to choose with great care the pet sitter; he will be given the house keys, so he needs to be a competent and trustworthy person (it’s important to ask for references!). Taking care of the cat doesn’t mean just cleaning the litter box and giving food, but also playing and cuddling if the cat so desires. It’s important to maintain the routine the cat is used to; it will help overcome the separation period without stress. There are websites where you can find pet sitters, with references and previous clients’ comments. You can also ask your veterinarian or an expert who will almost certainly be able to suggest a trustworthy pet sitter. Not every cat will enjoy this type of solution. [check out our Cat-sitter list]
  4. Solution n4: taking the cat on vacation with you.
    This solution is the riskiest one: the stress caused by the trip and the new environment might make the cat run away, with all its terrible consequences. To choose this solution, the cat must have been gradually introduced to this type of experience, taking trips and sleeping in new places. The cat must be up to date on the vaccinations and have an identification microchip. It’s advisable to stay in a house rather than a single room, the cat will have more space to move. It’s best not to let it outside, it’s an unknown place and the cat will not have the time to explore it. Take objects from home with you: blankets, pillows, dolls, carrier, bowls… Statistically speaking this is the most stressful solution for the animal, and if poorly handled the cat might end up in real danger. Not every cat will enjoy this type of solution.

In absolutely no case is acceptable to abandon the cat in a shelter or on the road!

Abandoning an animal is a felony.

If you aren’t sure which solution is best for you, you can always ask an expert, even better if he/she already knows you and the cat.

We are all different, cats and humans, so the most important thing is to get to know oneself and one’s cat. When we do, we will understand what is the best solution, and the cat will be more serene during the separation, and we will be able to enjoy our vacation!


FISAP CAB Roberta Roscini
ICAN Feline Behaviourist (Consultant)

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