Kids love to spend time at Grandma’s house as they get lots of treats and undivided attention. But your cat? Maybe not so much, even if freeze-dried fish and playtime is involved! And while a child will happily camp on a blow-up mattress, cats are far more discerning about their sleeping arrangements and level of comfort in strange places. Here’s how to make a stayover a comfortable feline home-away-from-home experience.
Whether you have to leave your cat with a family member or a friend for just one night (or much longer), the preparation is the same.
A Mobile Pet Bed
A mobile pet bed such as the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed is ideal for such a trip. It doubles up as safe transport on the journey and converts into a great snooze zone at the destination. If your cat is used to using one, it will help reduce any fears and anxiety related to a new environment because it’s a very familiar and comfortable space.
On arrival, place it in a quiet, tranquil place away from the hustle and bustle of the household. And, if there are incumbent pets in the home, kitty will probably require (and appreciate) her own private room.
Pop-Up Disposable litter Box
Excellent for travel, these can be disposed of after use so you don’t have to take any waste home. If the brand of litter she’s used to doesn’t have such a throwaway product in their range, you may have to take a litter box and her regular litter to prevent mishaps.
Dinnerware and Food
If it’s a short visit, you can probably leave behind the water fountain and the automated food dispenser as long as kitty is being served her regular food. Instead, take basic food and water bowls or consider using disposable plates and dishes for the duration.
With regard to food, this is definitely not an opportunity to try new recipes! Firstly, your cat may be reluctant to eat in strange surroundings, and new food could also result in an upset tummy. When setting up her room, place the food and water bowls away from the litter box. Cats don’t like to eat where they poop, whether at home or in someone else’s.
A favorite toy or her favorite security blanket. These are essentials for both familiarity and comfort. Take catnip too, if she is a fan.
Pheromone Plug-in Diffuser
A plug-in pheromone diffuser may also be a good idea to help quell any anxiety and fears. These plug-ins mimic the natural pheromones that cats produce to calm their kittens. They are also known to reduce stress-related behavior such as hiding, scratching, or spraying. The diffusers start working with almost immediate effect and can last up to a month.
If you have an old scratcher, take it along and dispose of it after the visit. Again, the familiarity of having this in a new environment can be helpful for kitty to settle in and will also prevent her from not scratching someone else’s furnishings.
Remember to pack any medications your cat may need, along with detailed instructions on how to administer them. Advise if they need to be refrigerated. Don’t forget syringes, pill pockets, or liquid treats if that’s how kitty takes her medication.
In a household not used to having a cat, it’s an excellent idea to ask if you can put up reminder notes not to leave doors and windows open. That’s why a feline house guest is probably more secure in her own suite for the visit.
If she’s allowed to roam for short spells, ask her pet sitter if they would mind putting incumbent pets out of the way for the duration. Taking the time for proper introductions isn’t worth it for a short stay. Again, it’s probably easier (and safer) for someone to spend time with her in her safe room.
Leaving Kitty at Home: Making In-House Arrangements with a Sitter
NEVER leave your cat home alone without supervision, even for one night! Unexpected accidents can leave your pet without food or water.
If Grandma isn’t available, and you can’t find someone you can trust, some organizations offer the services of professional and licensed sitters, such as Pet Sitters International. You can arrange daily, twice-daily, or even overnight visits, which is an advantageous option for an elderly feline. Also, ask at your vet’s office. Many veterinary technicians also pet-sit and are comfortable administering medication.
Planning Home Visits
When employing someone to look after you cat, it’s essential to plan an advance meet and greet to show the sitter around your home. Point out any potential hiding places your cat may resort to using, especially if she is shy. Plan their in-house visits around her typical routine as best as possible, so she is around and waiting for food or sunning in her favorite spot.
Ensuring Your Cat Doesn’t Get Trapped Somewhere
Make sure to prepare your home in advance by closing off access to attics, basements, and cupboards where she may want to hide and accidently get locked in.
Some cats are very shy with strangers in their home and may not come out. It’s important to ensure that the sitter is monitoring that the food is being eaten and whether the water needs topping up. If the food is not being touched and the cat is nowhere in sight, it’s a red flag that must be addressed immediately.
Before You Leave
For both your peace of mind and your cat’s safety, make sure she’s not trapped somewhere before you are even out the door! Yes, there are horror stories of cats being locked up for many weeks, which is another reason to use a professional sitter or a responsible adult.
If you do have to leave your cat regularly, it’s good to try and build a relationship with a single sitter. Technology, like a cat locator device, fits on a collar and ensures the sitter can locate a hiding feline. Cats can get stuck in the strangest places, even familiar hangouts like under the bed!
Finally, always leave your cat’s Sleepypod mobile pet bed out while you are away. She may also enjoy using it in her own home as a snooze zone. And, of course, it’s ready to go as a carrier if she requires a trip to the vet in your absence.
Sandy Robins is an awarding-winning multi-media pet lifestyle expert, author, and besotted pet parent to two very vocal and opinionated cats named Ziggy and Tory.