As a professional dog walker and cat sitter since 2008, I have had the remarkable opportunity to have been entrusted with the care of hundreds of wonderful pets right here in Jersey City! And as you can imagine, they have ALL required personalized care for all of their individual needs and circumstances.
Spending so many years getting to know our clients' needs and bonding with so many of their incredible pets has taught me to things about cats in particular: their absolute disdain for their families going on vacation without them! But not to worry, you can go on vacation and have your cat still love you!
Not only am I a passionate pet lover, I have been a devoted cat-mom to rescued cats over the course of the last 18 years. All came from difficult backgrounds and needed vastly different care, their cuddle-time needs also varied as much as their personalities. Especially whenever we decided to take a holiday! But all it took for them to still love us while we were away was some careful planning ahead and some foresight. Putting their needs first and setting up consistent, solid care is all we needed. It worked wonders for us, and can for you, too!
Through personal dedication and years of professional experience, I have learned what makes lovable fur-babies tick...and most importantly, what makes them feel relaxed, happy and loved, especially while their owners are away. Let's take a journey together, and you will find that you can take the best vacation you've ever had AND come home to happy, well-cared for cats that cannot wait to snuggle up to you!
Here are my top tips to a seamless transition for optimal cat care while you are away on your MUCH needed vacation. Yes you can truly enjoy time away without the guilt, all it takes is a little bit of planning. Follow these expert tips and they will be excited to have you back home after your trip, ready to give you tons of head-bumps and cranking up their purring action, curled up in your lap!
Visit your vet before you go! Most potential issues are alleviated well in advance with an annual check up. I know...NO ONE likes to go to the vet, especially your cat. But please, make it a priority to do so well in advance to your trip. The last thing anyone wants to encounter is a health issue with your cat while you are hundreds of miles away in the middle of paradise! You are supposed to be relaxing with the sand between your toes, remember? Not frantically calling your pet sitter or veterinarian trying to stage-manage a last minute health scare that will need your immediate attention. Please don't do something like that to yourself OR to your cat. And if your cat is already on regular Rx for diabetes, thyroid issues or an ongoing medical issue, please make sure they have been seen by their vet and that their medication is fully stocked beyond the length of your time away. Do you really want to be on the phone arranging Rx refills, when you should be kayaking with your loved ones instead? Your cat and your cat sitter will absolutely appreciate this being handled before you go!
Continue your cat's routine while you are away! Think about what your cat does all day. Do you work from home? Is your cat used to having company thought the day? Depending on how much time they currently spend on their own, that will help to determine what kind of ongoing care they will need. If your cat spends her days curled up on your laptop at work in your home office, she will definitely benefit from having at least once to twice daily visits, to keep her loneliness in check. Please note that boredom and separation anxiety can bring out destructive tendencies without some kind of ongoing human companionship! Do your couch and your rugs a favor by making sure they have loving daily stimulation and tender loving care while you are away.
Remember, there is a vast difference being away 8-10 hrs a day, and being away for a solid week. Your cat will be wandering around your place looking for you and wondering where you are. Give them the peace of mind they need and deserve by having someone come by daily to make sure they are doing alright. These are the cats that end up being our biggest cuddle bugs, in my experience, choosing to find comfort sitting on our laps waiting to be adored. Loneliness is real!
“Kittify” Your Home Make sure to "kitty proof" your home, before your depart. Kittens are wonderful, and also tried and true troublemakers and they will get into everything imaginable! Get down to their perspective and see what kind of potential danger they may encounter. If your kitties are masters of mayhem, they may benefit from being kept in a moderately enclosed area in your home with fresh air, sunlight, access to food, water, access to litter and a large enough area to play during the day. Give them plenty of toys and perhaps some catnip if they are interested, in order to get some of that kitty energy out as well as help keep them out of mischief!
And no matter the specific circumstances for your individual cat, consider leaving them with the radio on. Ongoing chatter in the background is helpful for your cat, as stone silence can be difficult for them to deal with, especially if your house is usually full of activity. Classical music, soft local talk radio, works wonders.....just remember to leave them with a soothing and calm station! Anything else will prove counterproductive!
Ask For Help Having a dedicated and loving friend who also loves your cat, or a professional cat sitter, come by regularly will make all the difference in the world to helping your cat feel comfortable
Make sure you have left written and digital instructions for your cat for your sitter, to alleviate any potential confusion regarding their care. Feel free to leave pre-measured meals ready to go in the fridge and/or leave clear measuring cups for your sitter to access. Make sure you have available plenty of extra food and litter for the course of your trip! Your sitter should not need to be running errands to the local pet shop or grocery store to stock up your pantry, and remember if they have to do that for you, they will likely charge you a premium upon your return!
Be sure to leave emergency contact info to your vet, along with contact info to a friendly neighbor or nearby friends/ family in case of a major emergency that can be accessed while you are away. Be sure to leave a cat carrier accessible to your sitter under the unlikely event your cat will need emergency care. Also provide your sitter with the contact info to your super if you live in an apartment building or to your management company in case of an emergency with your home. Having a sitter around while you are away can be a lifesaver when you realize how much goes on in your home – from house related emergencies to missed mail packages – on a day-to- day basis. All of these small tidbits add a level of calm to you and your cat’s experience while you’re away!
Put your dirty laundry to good use! I routinely advise our clients to be prepared to leave something they either slept in or worked out in for their cats to snuggle up to. Your scent is a source of comfort, a refuge when they feel lonely, scared or confused. I have had clients over the years take out their laundry basket and lay a variety of clothes all over the house! Yes, it sounds absolutely gross, but I assure you, your cats will absolutely revel in your scent. They will feel at home and safe knowing that your scent remains long after you leave for your trip. Remember that your scent gets renewed by your ongoing presence. Having laundry that lingers, will bring a sense of comfort that NO amount of pets from a sitter will completely satisfy. I have arrived to plenty of our client's homes to find their tender-hearted cats enveloped in their owners sweaters, purring away. As long as they can sense that you remain nearby by proxy, they will have an easier transition while you are away, guaranteed!
In the end, your cats ADORE you more than life itself, don't leave the arrangements for their care for the last minute or spend your first few days back home having to deal with your cat giving you side-eye for leaving them behind.. Be thoughtful and proactive with how they will spend their time at home while you are out drinking margaritas by the pool. Give them a serene staycation filled with lots of activity and love, and they will blossom and reach out for you the moment you get home! With a little planning, you too can accomplish the impossible: a RELAXING vacation AND coming home to your happy and loving cat ready for some snuggles!