Author Topic: Cat on Vacation  (Read 4799 times)

wealthviahealth

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Cat on Vacation
« on: May 03, 2015, 01:34:30 PM »
I got a cat ( that I love dearly) about 1.5 years ago before I started traveling regularly.
He is my only "dependent" and I have found that having him does make travel much more difficult.

When I go on trips of 1 week or more he has either had to stay with family or have a cat sitter come in and watch over him.

I love the idea of being able to leave for 4-5 days and not have to drop him off with family/ hire a sitter and am wondering what other cat owners experiences have been like on here.
I recently purchased the low tech versions of auto feeder and water bowl and am hoping that after a few days of testing this hout when I am home, my cat will adjust and this can be my go to solution for trips of this length.
How long have you left your cat for? What tips/suggestions do you have?

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Argyle

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2015, 01:40:24 PM »
Search among your friends for folks who also have pets and who also travel.  Set up an informal or formal pet-care exchange system.

If I were going away for 4-5 days and wanted to rely on auto-feeding etc., I wouldn't set up mechanical systems too much could go wrong.  I'd set up a zillion water bowls and a big bag of food the cat could get into.  Also leave all the toilet seats open so the cat can get at water if something goes wrong.  Things do go wrong, so you need multiple backups.

Even in that system, some cats won't use their litterboxes when they're too dirty, so you'd want to be prepared to find your cat had used rugs, your bed, etc.  Or maybe you have a catdoor and your cat doesn't use a litterbox, in which case that's a win.

The petcare exchange is the best situation, though.  If you're gone for too long, set up two friends coming alternately, so if one flakes the other will still be there for the cat.

MsPeacock

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2015, 02:38:16 PM »
I watch my neighbor's cats when she goes away, she watches mine. Cost = nothing. No issue of trip length because she is just across the street.

My dog is more complicated - but I usually can leave her w/ a friend and pay her teenage daughter $15 per day for "dog sitting."

Your best bet is to find someone you can trade pet-sitting arrangements with. I have left the cats for 2-3 days w/ plenty of food and water, but I wouldn't feel comfortable going longer than that.

JLee

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2015, 02:43:15 PM »
My cat was okay for a few days alone. If I was going to be gone for a week or more, I'd have someone check on him a couple times.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2015, 02:56:16 PM »

How long have you left your cat for? What tips/suggestions do you have?

If I am gone for more than 1 night I get someone to come over and feed my cat.

More than 2 nights and I get them to stay over.

I have taken my cat to the sitter's place for longer stretches like 2 weeks to 2 months.

I could leave enough food and water for a week, but my cat doesn't like the lack of human contact and I'm not out to keep it alive. I'm keen for it to have a good life.

Sometimes it's inconvenient. When I start thinking like that it's time to punch myself in the face and get over my whining.

I plan to take a 10-20 break from pets when my cat dies so I can travel more freely, but until that happens I'll go through the hassle and expense of getting sitters for my cat when I want to take off.

I travel a fair bit so it's not slowing me down. It's just one extra step I have to look after before I leave.

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NotJen

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2015, 03:12:46 PM »
I have 2 cats, and the max I leave them alone is 3 days.  I leave out multiple food and water bowls, but I don't trust them to keep using their litterboxes after that point.

When I have friends take care of them on vacation, I only ask that they come every other day to refill the bowls and scoop litter, and I don't ask them to spend any time with the cats if they don't want to.  They are a little clingy for a day after I get back from a trip, but I'm pretty sure they like it better than when I have to board them at the vet.

I should research local cat sitters for the times when friends can't help, as the vet is pretty expensive when I have to go that route.
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Sibley

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2015, 04:49:59 PM »
I have tons of experience with this, 2 cats, and I used to travel 60% of the time.

Auto feeders - there are 2 types, gravity (most common) and programmed. Which will work depends on the cat. If you have a cat that doesn't regulate their food and overeats a lot, then a gravity feeder will not work, you'll just end up with a fat cat.  Programmed feeders are more expensive, but will put down a specific amount of food on whatever schedule you setup. I use one all the time, and I've found it's reliable as long as I check the batteries and make sure it's full of food. With either type, you're limited to how much food it'll hold.

Water - cats require fresh water. They won't drink (happily at least) from a bowl with stale water. If the cat doesn't drink enough water, then you're risking vet trips for those issues, which aren't cheap. You can get water fountains for pets, and cats often love them (not always of course). Assuming the cat likes the fountain and doesn't dump food in it, you can often leave it unattended for a week or so. Depends on the type of fountain of course, environmental factors, and how much the cat drinks.

The litterbox is also a huge problem. Cats will reach a point where they will refuse to use a dirty box. That point depends on the cat, some are much more tolerant than others. You can alleviate the problem by having multiple boxes, but that only buys you more time, plus a box that hasn't been cleaned in a week is going to smell pretty bad. You entire house will start to smell. Your neighbors may notice and complain, plus once you hit that point the cat is going to kill you.

The bigger problem you can run into is lack of socialization. Cats, despite stereotypes, are social animals and require a certain amount of interaction. How much and what type depend on the cat. Some cats are content to be on their own for a week or more. Others are upset after a day. Some need another cat around to be happy. If you push the limits too far, or too often, there may be a huge backlash.

It's very hard to generalize, because cats are individuals. One of my cats is ok with 4-5 days alone (with another cat for company) for successive weeks, 4-5 months in a row. She's not very happy about it, but she can live with it.  I haven't pushed it beyond that. My other cat is a very different matter. She starts acting out, peeing outside the litterbox to express her displeasure, etc. If the pressure doesn't let up (my being out of town), then she will stress herself into a real illness. It happened at least once a year, and the vet trips were not fun.

My solution was to have a pet sitter come in daily to check food and water, clean litterboxes, and pay a little attention to the cats. It wasn't perfect, there were problems, especially long term. But we could limp along until after busy season.

JenniferOnFIRE

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2015, 05:01:57 PM »
I have two cats, so they keep each other company while I'm out being a wage slave most of the day and when I travel.  With two litter boxes, multiple water dishes (and clean toilets with the lids up, just in case), and a gravity-fed self-feeder for their dry food, I can travel four days with no problem.  Might push it to five, but the litter boxes get more heavily loaded when they self-feed.  If I'm gone longer than that, I have a kind retired neighbor scoop the boxes and top off the water every 3-4 days.  Might be a good job for a reliable teenager who wants to earn some cash - you might find one through a local church if you don't have your own sources.

I've had good luck with the six cats I've had so far (not all at once ;) ), no major psychological issues or problems with their not drinking enough, although I have started to meter out their food to help them drop a bit of excess weight, so the self-feeder is now used only when I'm traveling.

I plan to not replace this batch as they move on to kitty heaven, in order to be freer to take longer trips.  Figure I'll get my kitty fix in by fostering occasionally for the local shelter (I'm currently hosting a mom and four three-week-olds - cute!). 

I'm also targeting eventual mustachian free travel lodging by house and pet sitting, like through something like this:  http://www.trustedhousesitters.com/us/ - anyone have any experience with these sorts of arrangements?

Spondulix

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2015, 06:15:59 PM »
It may not be as much of an inconvenience to a friend or co-worker as you think. I have friends who love cats but can't have them (roommate has allergy, can't make the commitment, whatever). Imagine coming to visit a cat who hasn't had a visitor in a couple days - they will be your best friend! So it can be rewarding for everyone involved.

I always leave a toilet seat up, just in case. You never know what'll happen to the water bowl if they get bored enough.

eliza

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2015, 08:09:42 PM »
Have you considered getting a housesitter to stay at your place and watch your cat while you are gone?  It seems like it could be a win-win for you.  You'd be able to travel without worrying (too much) about the cat. And the sitter gets somewhere to stay for free.

I'm currently house sitting for a friend (watching his fish and collecting his mail) and living for free for two months in a HCOL area.  This has definitely worked out for the two of us.

I've heard good things about trustedhousesitters.com, but I've never actually used them. 

bogart

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2015, 08:21:35 PM »
My best pet-sitting arrangements have been  to find a youngish teen in our neighborhood and pay them to come by.  I have dogs, so much higher maintenance, but same basic idea.  This only works well if the teen's parent is on board with the idea that this is a first job and they, the parent, are willing to provide some level of supervision/backup (but I do leave contact numbers for local friends who would e.g. take the dog to the vet if it came to that).  For what you're describing, if you have a local kid around who you consider reasonably trustworthy, you could have the kid do most days and a trusted adult (whether the kid's parent or someone else) could do, say, days 3 and 7 every week or whatever.

If you have a friend you could call if things went wrong, another option particularly for short trips might be to set up a webcam where you could see the food/water bowls and let someone know if there were a visible problem.  If the cats are predictable enough, you could also webcam them of course.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2015, 08:30:07 PM »
I have two 6-year-old cats, and the most I would leave them entirely alone for is 36 or maybe 48 hours.  They are very sociable, and while they have a lot of fun playing together, they definitely start to miss me after time.  They're the kind that when I come home from work at night, they are waiting for me at the door asking for attention.  They also can get into plenty of mischief on their own.  When I've left for a couple nights, I've come home to find my bed unmade (even the entire comforter pulled off onto the floor), and the shower rod pulled down, random small objects moved around the house, etc.  The worst was when they turned on the kitchen sink and flooded my condo, but now that I know they are smart enough to turn all of my faucets on, I ALWAYS turn off my water main every single time that I leave.

I would rather indulge my cats to have some human interaction than make them feel too lonely, so if I'm going to be gone for more than a full day or two, I hire a cat-sitter to come in and feed them, visit with them (she stays 30-60 minutes), and clean up after them.  They also do better with food if they are fed twice per day, so I have the sitter do two visits per day.  It's just $13 per visit, and since I really don't travel all that frequently (or for long, whenever I do go), it's not a big deal for me to pay for this service and have the reassurance that they are happy.  My sitter also texts me every visit to tell me how they are, and she sends cute pictures sometimes, too.  This particular sitter is also the neighborhood dog-walker -- everybody knows and love Nancy!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 10:24:07 PM by LeRainDrop »

starbuck

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2015, 08:20:26 AM »
We have two cats, and travel fairly regularly both for work and fun. The longest I would leave the two of them without any intervention is 3 days/2 nights (a long weekend, basically.) We have an automatic feeder (they're former fat cats), a normal water dish, two large litter boxes, access to the unfinished basement for bonus hunting and spider eating, and lots of windows for bird watching.

When we're gone for a normal-length vacation (1-2 weeks) we relocate them to our friend's condo. They enjoy the temporary feline companionship without the burden or cost of ownership, and it works out great for us. When we're traveling somewhere between a long weekend and +1 week away, we ask that one of them come by at least every other day to make sure that everything is still kosher.

[When we had only one cat and would leave for a long weekend, without fail he would find a way to break SOMETHING in the house. Usually a vase (we have no more vases because of him) or some other satisfyingly breakable item. With 2 cats, the house remains damage free without human supervision because they harass each other when they get bored instead. So far, anyways...]

dodojojo

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2015, 01:02:44 PM »
If it's more than 1 night away, the cats get a daily visitor.  I have cat volunteer friends so the furballs get expert care.  That eases my conscience a bit.  Still, I do not take trips longer than 2 weeks.  The plan is for the current residents to live long happy lives and once they're gone, I'll take a break from pet-ownership to take longer trips and/or live overseas.  That's the plan anyway, I love the kitties and it's hard to imagine a home without them.

dcheesi

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2015, 01:24:59 PM »
5 Days is no sweat with my pair of furballs. Gravity fed water bowl, electric feeder (one of them makes a fat pig of herself if left with unlimited food), and three large litter boxes.

Anything longer than that and I get nervous. They could probably go a week before litter became an issue, but there are too many other things that can go wrong over longer time-frames. But my friend who cat-sits only has to come over maybe twice a week to check on them.

ZiziPB

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2015, 01:33:05 PM »
I am comfortable leaving my cat for 2 days (1 night) with an automatic feeder, water in multiple bowls and a clean litter box.  I would stretch it to 2 nights with an extra litter box (will probably do so later this year).  After that she gets very lonely, even if someone comes in once a day to feed her and clean out the box.  So if it's any longer than a couple of days, I bring her to my ex's place (she's familiar with the place and very comfortable there and with him taking care of her).  I take care of my ex's cat in exchange when he travels.

This year both of us will be away at the same time so the cats will have to be boarded at the vet.  Not my first choice but we have no other options. 



zinethstache

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2015, 01:37:54 PM »
We camp in a trailer and chose the breed of cat for our pet specifically for their natural tendency to be leash trained and travel comfortably. Not saying it is for everyone and likely your 4-5 day travels are not camping situations that you could make safe and fun for your four-legged friend. So far we've enjoyed the training process... just think spending nights next to your home all in an effort to make the cat comfortable sleeping in the travel rig. We've treated it as an adventure in itself. We leave for our vacation on the 13th cat in tow! I have high hopes our cat will be an excellent roadtrip pal.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2015, 01:39:00 PM »
Am I the only one who clicked on this thread expecting to see cat pictures on their vacation?

A cat lounging by the pool with a cold drink ;-)

JenniferOnFIRE

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2015, 05:58:12 PM »
When I've left for a couple nights, I've come home to find my bed unmade (even the entire comforter pulled off onto the floor), and the shower rod pulled down, random small objects moved around the house, etc.  The worst was when they turned on the kitchen sink and flooded my condo, but now that I know they are smart enough to turn all of my faucets on, I ALWAYS turn off my water main every single time that I leave.

Are you sure it's your cats and not a poltergeist?  Would explain why they're so glad to see you when you get home. ;-]

NCGal

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2015, 07:43:38 PM »
There is a pet hotel near my area, which you should check out to see if there is one near you.  you are able to leave your pet at this "hotel" where the cat will have his or her own your, which you can watch them on your phone using the app provided by the hotel.  You can also purchase them treats through the app and have them fed.  This is a great way to keep travel and keep an eye on your loved one.
Riccur, for how long have you left your cat at the hotel? Was s/he well adjusted upon your return? I always have a cat sitter come to my home and I wonder how mine would react after taking him out of his comfortable environment.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2015, 10:12:21 PM »
When I've left for a couple nights, I've come home to find my bed unmade (even the entire comforter pulled off onto the floor), and the shower rod pulled down, random small objects moved around the house, etc.  The worst was when they turned on the kitchen sink and flooded my condo, but now that I know they are smart enough to turn all of my faucets on, I ALWAYS turn off my water main every single time that I leave.

Are you sure it's your cats and not a poltergeist?  Would explain why they're so glad to see you when you get home. ;-]

LOL!  I've actually witnessed one of my cats take off the comforter and drag it to me in the living room when he wanted attention, and they both turn on the kitchen and bathroom sinks when I'm home because they like to drink from them.  My friends say they're smart, but I say not smart enough to figure out how to turn the sinks off!

Hoberto

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2015, 06:09:16 PM »
Am I the only one who clicked on this thread expecting to see cat pictures on their vacation?

A cat lounging by the pool with a cold drink ;-)

Yes, I totally did!

I've left my cats here for a week with food and water.  They were alive when I got back and happy to see the dog return.  Full litter box, and no behaviors.

JenniferOnFIRE

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2015, 06:20:26 PM »
they both turn on the kitchen and bathroom sinks when I'm home because they like to drink from them.  My friends say they're smart, but I say not smart enough to figure out how to turn the sinks off!

I agree with your friends, that is smart.  If only someone would come up with an automatic faucet calibrated for cat faces instead of people hands...  Any Inventors out there want to take up the challenge?  Or show us that it already exists?

amberfocus

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Re: Cat on Vacation
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2015, 09:28:46 AM »
We don't use a house or pet sitter because we're uncomfortable with people coming into the house, and because one of the cats is utterly terrified of strangers. So we actually have a webcam with motion detection that e-mails pics whenever a cat walks in front of it. It even has night vision and works in the dark. Plus, you can also watch it live if you want, especially right after receiving an e-mail notification and the kitty is still there. When we go away for up to one week, we set it up in front of their food and water bowls, and we can get visual sightings every few hours when they eat, drink, or just wander by.

Although this hasn't happened yet, we've decided that if we don't see a hit on either cat within a 12 to 24 hour period, then we're going home (our travel tends to be within driving distance so this is feasible; otherwise we'd probably buck up and call someone). One of our cats got a urinary blockage a few years back, and that deteriorates very quickly without prompt vet care. The camera is a very non-invasive way to assure ourselves that everyone is okay. It's certainly not a perfect solution, because sometimes we lose the camera in a power failure or if a kitty knocks it over, but those issues can be mitigated with a bit of effort.

We got the webcam for free from a friend and I don't know off the top of my head what brand it is, but if anyone is interested, I can look it up and post what it is. I don't think it's that expensive and it's almost certainly cheaper in the long run than hiring someone to come over, if that's the only alternative. It certainly works great for us.