So, you have a cat. But you also want to have a life. You may think that your cat will run away if you go on holiday, run out of food, or be miserable. So can you go on holiday if you have a cat—and if so, how do you avoid these problems?
Can you go on vacation if you have a cat? You can, so long as you’ve prepared your cat first, and you make suitable arrangements. Have somebody come and check on your cat occasionally, or send it to stay at a friend’s house or a cattery. If you’re leaving it home alone, tidy away anything that might get broken, set up your cat’s scratching post and toys, and consider setting up a camera system to see if your cat is OK. You could even take your cat with you on vacation. Teach your cat that you will come back by taking repeated quick trips before you take a long one.
The first section looks at whether it’s possible to go on vacation if you have a cat—detailing vacation and separation anxiety in cats, whether cats run away when you go on holiday, and more. We’ll also look at your options on what to do with your cat when you travel: options like leaving your cat alone, having somebody catsit, and taking your cat to a cattery.
Can You Go On Vacation If You Have a Cat?
You can go on holiday if you have a cat. You don’t have as much freedom as if you didn’t have a cat, you have to make more preparations before you leave, and you may end up having to spend extra money; but you can.
Do Cats Get Lonely When You Go On Vacation?
Cats can get lonely when left alone for extended periods of time.
This loneliness can be serious or less so. Serious loneliness is separation anxiety, which is where the cat feels extremely insecure when its keepers leave. This causes behaviors like spraying, destruction of furniture and carpets, trying to escape, and/or not eating. This stems from negative experiences early in life like being abandoned, being weaned too early, or being mistreated by people.
At the other end of the spectrum, any and all cats can get bored when left alone. An indoor cat’s keepers may be its sole source of entertainment, affection and attention; when that source goes away, the cat probably gets frightfully bored. You would feel the same in your cat’s position! As a result, dealing with your cat’s loneliness/separation anxiety is a major part of the preparations you have to make before you leave.
Will My Cat Run Away If I Go On Holiday?
It is possible that your cat would run away if you go on holiday, but it’s not a given. It becomes less likely the better care you take of your cat.
What often happens in these situations is that the cat runs out of food, and has to ‘run away’ to try and get more. In truth, these cats aren’t ‘running away’; they’re just hungry and need to get some food. It’s a straight choice between staying at home and trying to get out and hunt for something to eat. If you were faced with the same choice, you would do the same thing.
However, it is possible that even if you provide enough food, your cat will run away. This could happen because your cat doesn’t understand what’s going on. If you’ve never been away before, and are suddenly gone for a week, your cat might think you aren’t coming back. Again, it has a rational choice to stay indoors where it might run out of food vs. getting out and getting on with life.
What Should I Do With My Cat When I Go On Vacation?
You have many, many options with regard to how to provide care for your cat while you’re traveling. Some are more expensive than others, some are better than others, but all are options available to you.
Leaving Your Cat Home When You’re On Vacation
Leaving cats alone during a vacation trip is fine, so long as your cats are suitably prepared. Most people leave their cats at home when they go away. Some people set their cats up so that they can get by without human interference, while others get a catsitter to come and check in on them. It is an option for you to just leave your cat on its own, although there are big drawbacks to doing so.
The idea is that you prepare your home so that it’s suitable for your cat to live in alone. You put away anything dangerous, like knives or scissors on kitchen counters; you move anything that your cat could easily knock over, e.g. things on shelves; you provide your cat a vantage point to see the outside world; you ensure that all doors and windows are closed, or at least not open enough for your cat to escape; and, of course, you make arrangements for your cat’s food. You can leave out enough kibble and water for your cat, perhaps, or buy an auto-feeder machine.
And if you don’t have one already, consider getting your cat a scratching post. Cats with separation anxiety will often ruin furniture by scratching it. If you teach your cat to use a scratching post, hopefully some of that destructive behavior would be aimed there instead.
Pros: The best thing about this method is that you don’t have to rely on anyone else for it to work. Catsitters can make mistakes, like by not feeding the cat enough, forgetting to feed the cat, or accidentally letting the cat escape. But if you set your home up just right, these issues won’t occur. You also don’t have to pay anybody any money, which is always a plus!
Cons: There are some obvious drawbacks, though. Your cat could injure itself while you’re away, and with nobody checking in on it, it wouldn’t get medical help. Your cat could run out of food, get its food wet/dirty and so render it inedible, or run out of water. And that’s not to mention that your cat could wreck your house while you’re away by scratching furniture and knocking things off the shelves.
Have Somebody Catsit
This is the option that most people take when they go away. They either have somebody come and catsit full time, or have them check in on the cat periodically. This is better than leaving the cat alone, because it means that the person can check to see if the cat has enough food and hasn’t gotten hurt.
Most people have a family friend or neighbor catsit their cat. If you have a family member who’s currently free, you could even have them catsit ‘full time’. They can perform a double duty as they can also take care of the house in the meantime, making sure the cat doesn’t break anything, and hopefully deterring burglars too.
If you don’t have anybody who is willing to do the job for you, there are professional cat sitters you can hire. These people will come to your house and spend some one-on-one time with your cat while you’re away. They’re generally good at what they do, as if you didn’t like cats, you’d probably never become a professional cat sitter!
Pros: Having a catsitter makes it less likely that your cat will get hurt, or that it will run out of food or water while you’re away. Some kind people will even do it for free, meaning that you don’t pay anything extra over leaving the cat on its own.
Cons: Your cat may not like the person that’s catsitting. If your cat experiences separation anxiety, perhaps the only thing worse than being away from you is also being around somebody unfamiliar. You may also feel uncomfortable with giving somebody access to your house without you being around, even if they’re somebody that’s close to you.
Leaving Cat With Friend While on Vacation
Another similar option is to actually take the cat to the other person’s home. This might be more convenient for you and for your friend, family member or neighbor. The same purpose applies: this allows the friend to physically watch over your cat and make sure it doesn’t get into any trouble.
Pros: The main pro is that this allows the friend/neighbor to take better care of the cat. If they stay at home, then they can keep an eye on your cat nigh-on 24/7. They may also find it more convenient as they don’t have to go to your home (which is another benefit to you—privacy).
Cons: Your cat may not like going to stay at somebody else’s house. Cats determine territory through smell, and your cat’s new lodgings won’t smell like your cat for obvious reasons. This can make your cat even more nervous, especially if there are other pets in the home.
Where Can I Take My Cat While I Go On Vacation…? A Cattery!
A cattery is like a kennel for cats. Catteries have existed for decades, but it’s still less common for a cat to go to a cattery than it is for a dog to go to a doggery—er, a kennel. That’s probably because cats are seen as more independent, and can get on better with being alone than dogs can.
Either way, catteries are very similar to kennels. They range in standard from places that only offer small cages, to larger, nicer places on farms. Like all things in life, how good the cattery is depends on how much you’re willing to pay.
Pros: Catteries are typically run by professionals who understand cats. Your cat will be fully cared for throughout its stay, i.e. it will get enough food and water. If you take your cat to an upscale cattery, it will have access to large play areas, lots of toys, and fancy meals.
Cons: Where to begin?
Taking your cat to a cattery shouldn’t be your first option when you go on vacation. That’s because almost all cats hate catteries. Cats are solitary creatures by nature, and cramming them into an overstuffed cattery with dozens of other cats is highly stressful. Unless you can afford a nice one, there’s a good chance that your cat will have little space; and if it’s allowed access to a bigger space, then it may fight with other cats. Catteries are also havens for infectious diseases like feline herpesvirus.
That’s not to say that all catteries are awful. There are no doubt lots of good ones. But this should be your option of last resort.
Can You Take Your Cat WITH YOU On Vacation?
You could also consider taking your cat with you when you go.
No, really. Cats and vacations CAN mix.
This isn’t something that a lot of people do, but some people have done so successfully. If you’re going to take your cat with you, you need to make sure that:
- Your accommodation is suitable for cats. Is it big enough for your cat to have room to be comfortable? Is there somewhere for your cat to go to the toilet? Most people who take this option search specifically for cat-friendly accommodation, and you should do the same.
- Your cat has had a vet checkup and any necessary shots before leaving. Different diseases are common in different places, and your cat may not have had a shot against something that’s common where you’re going. If not, get those shots pronto.
- You’re allowed to bring your cat on the flight, on the trip to the hotel, and in the hotel. Otherwise you could be turned away at any point in your holiday.
- You will have access to basics like cat food while you’re there.
You also have to be aware of how going on holiday with a cat limits your holiday. If yours is an indoor cat, then you’ll either have to stay indoors the whole time, or leave the cat on its own in your accommodation—and if you’re doing that, why not leave it at home in the first place!? It’s also a bad idea to go on holiday with your cat if it isn’t microchipped, as otherwise it could easily get lost and never be found.
Pros: While holidaying with your cat can limit your holiday, it would be a fantastic experience. It’s doubly fun if you’ve taught your cat to walk in a harness, as then you can explore somewhere new together. Just be sure that you’re safe when you do.
Cons: This is a whole load of hassle, so unless you really want to take your cat on holiday—rather than choosing to do so because the other options are inconvenient—it may not be worth it. There’s also the risk to your cat’s health and safety, the added pressure of having to feed and take care of your cat when you’re trying to relax, and the limits it places on what you can do and where you can go/stay. This isn’t a choice for the faint of heart.
There’s also the chance that your cat could become unwell if it’s in the pets’ area of the storage hold. Accidents happen and pets do occasionally pass away in flight. Plus, your cat might not even enjoy going on holiday, especially if it’s nervous around new people and in new places.
How to Prepare a Cat For When You Go On Holiday
No matter which option you pick, you should prepare your cat beforehand. Preparing your cat for you going away will help it through the experience. Here’s how you can do that.
Get Your Cat Used to Quick Trips Before Long Ones
If you want to stop your cat from feeling so anxious when it’s away from you, the best way is to teach it that you’ll always come back. The best way is by taking lots of little, regular breaks before you ever go away on a long one.
This is a common trap that people fall into. They avoid taking quick breaks so that they don’t have to arrange for their cat while they’re away. Then, frustrated, they take a long vacation and are surprised to find that their cat destroyed their furniture while they away. On top of that, the cat won’t even acknowledge that they came back, as if it’s giving them the cold shoulder!
What works far better is to take quick and regular breaks. Weekend breaks once a month work well. Always make precisely the same arrangements:
- Pack the night before each time
- Go through your leaving ritual (shoes, coat, keys) and ‘say goodbye’ to your cat
- Stay away for the same amount of time
- Come home at the same time each time
- Make the same arrangements for your cat each time (e.g. have the same neighbor come over during each trip)
Cats are suckers for routine. Yours will quickly learn that you’ve come back every time you’ve gone away, and that it has always had enough food to get by.
Then, when you want to take a longer break, your cat should be fine. Repeat the same routine (packing the night before, going through the goodbye ritual, and so on) and your cat will understand that it will be OK.
Only Book a Suitable Holiday
You should also ensure that you don’t book an unsuitable holiday. That means one where you won’t be away for too long. You could also consider taking a holiday near your home, so that you don’t have to travel far should the worst happen, and your cat go missing or get hurt. This is especially the case if you don’t have anybody who can come and look after your cat while you’re away, and you have to leave it alone.
Monitor Your Cat From Afar
Another top tip is to set up cameras through which you can monitor your cat while you’re away. Even basic camera setups are accessible online and/or through apps, and allow you to see what your cat’s up to. Through a system like this, you could check that your cat hasn’t broken anything, that it has enough food, that it hasn’t escaped and so on. These cameras are very easy to set up, and with today’s technology, are surprisingly high quality even at low prices.
Aside from that, be sensible. Don’t go away for a month if you’re leaving your cat at home; don’t leave your priceless Ming vase somewhere your cat can knock it over. Don’t leave the front door open so that your cat can escape. Simple!