There are going to be occasions when you will need to be away from home for holidays, visiting friends and family, going into hospital, business trips – and you will have to make arrangements for your cat to be looked after. There are several options to choose from depending on the circumstances.

Thinking ahead
Whichever option you choose, make the arrangements well in advance because you will need to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.  You may need to get a pet passport if taking your cat abroad. Good catteries get booked up quickly for peak times, as do pet sitters, and you need to check them out first you need to be sure that caring for your cat is convenient for friends, family or neighbours while you are away. If intending to take the cat with you, you need to check whether your accommodation is suitable for cats.

Seek recommendations for local boarding catteries from vets and cat-owning friends, neighbours and relatives. Visit the establishments first to check them out for yourself.

Your cat will need to be vaccinated against relevant diseases before entering a cattery, so ensure his inoculations are up to date. Taking the cat’s bed, bedding and favourite toys with him to a cattery will help him settle and feel more at home. Prepare for the date well in advance. Take the vaccination certificate with you when you take your pet to the cattery, as they will want to check that it is current. The best catteries are purpose-built, with each cat having his own small cabin and outdoor run. The cabin should be clean, dry and warm, with room for a bed, food and water bowls, and the cat’s belongings; the adjoining run should be secure with room for the litter tray, exercise, a `sunning/lookout’ shelf, and a scratching post. Indoor catteries are not ideal as there is a greater risk of infections spreading between cats due to inadequate airflow. Having a reliable person to come in at least twice a day to feed and water, clean out litter trays and provide affection can be an ideal solution for those cats who do not settle in catteries.

Feline fact
An older cat may present a problem at holiday times, as he may not settle well in a cattery. If this is the case, having someone come in daily to keep an eye on him and provide for his needs may be the best option in your absence if you are going to be away for more than a couple of days. This will avoid any major disruption to your cat’s lifestyle, but it is not the same as having company at home, and may only work if your pet is used to letting himself in and out of the home through a cat flap. An indoor-only cat may suffer from loneliness and become depressed in this situation, so a pet sitter may be a better choice.

Don’t be fooled by a cat that seemingly is not overly fond of company into thinking it will do well by itself for a few days.  Many cats that don’t seek constant attention still desire to have their family around them and pine when they are gone.

Editor’s note. I once owned an incredibly wild and seemingly independent old Tom who we had found as a stray. It took a year before he would let any of us touch him then overnight.. he strongly bonded with us. We never left home for more than 3 days without a house sitter as without company he would not eat even if new food was presented morning and night by a drop in friend. He was old, not very clean, and spent almost no time inside but he was connected to us strongly.

A good option, particularly if you have a number of pets, is to arrange for a pet sitter to stay in your house while you are away for any length of time. Although this can be quite expensive, it does give you peace of mind knowing that both your pet and your house will be well looked after. Be sure to use a reputable agency ideally one recommended by word of mouth which chooses its staff carefully and offers insurance in case of any mishaps. Pet-sitters are trained to look after all sorts of animals, with some specializing in and preferring particular species, so ask for someone who is cat-orientated. You can find pet-sitters advertised in cat magazines and on the internet.

If you are leaving your cat in the care of someone while you are away, give them the following details before you depart: feeding and litter-tray cleaning routine any specific dos and don’ts regarding your pet’s care any medication information, if your cat is receiving any contact details for you in case of an emergency contact details of your vet provide a map of how to get there if the person is not familiar with the area. Taking the cat with you If you want to take your cat away with you on a regular basis within your own country, then you need to get him used to travel, whether by car or public transport. Train him to accept this from an early age, by taking him out for short journeys. Check with public-transport companies regarding pet travel, as some have specific rules and regulations about this. To help him feel secure, put his blanket and favourite toy s in the carrier. Ensure the car is not too warm and that there is plenty of ventilation, otherwise, the cat may become heat-distressed. Never let him out of the carrier, however, except in an emergency. Taking a fold-up pen with you can be a good idea so that the cat is secure in your hotel room when you are not there.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.