After the craziness of the last year, we both (myself and my husband) are in need of a vacation, and we are planning a trip abroad for a week. I wanted to ask what would be your advice on going away for vacations and what to do with our cat, Muffins, during that time. I did think about leaving him at my parents' house which he has visited before, however they will be doing some renovations to their house during the time we would be leaving, and our kitty will not be comfortable in the house during that time, due to the noise, space limitations, etc. He is generally a nervous and scared boy in new situations. What are your thoughts on this type of situation? Any advice or tips you may have to keep our kitty safe and comfortable while we attempt to go away are greatly appreciated.
Congratulations on your upcoming vacation! You are correct to be concerned about leaving Muffins with your parents at a time when there will be constructions going on in their home. Muffins is not unlike all cats, who feel a strong attachment to their home and feel vulnerable and uncomfortable in new and unfamiliar surroundings.
From best to worst, here are some options for cat care while you travel:
Live-In Sitter - The best scenario is to have someone trustworthy stay in your home and continue with Muffin's routines while you are gone. While the sitter won't replace you, they will ensure his meals and play times are done at the time he is used to - which gives him a sense of security. If you have a friend or relative who might come stay, that is ideal - maybe your parents would want a break from the construction at their home while you're gone? There are reputable pet sitters who are willing to stay in your home as well.
Pop-In Sitter - Having someone come twice a day to feed and play with Muffins is a good solution too. This will ensure partial routine and keep him in his home, where he is familiar and comfortable with his surroundings (and all the things that smell like him.)
Boarding/Sleep-Over - Cats are not comfortable in places they aren't familiar with so this is not as optimal as keeping Muffins in his own home. The best temporary housing situation for a cat is a quiet, low activity home with no other pets. Boarding facilities will keep him safe from escaping but there are other cat smells to contend with and exposure to diseases etc.
Take Him Along - This is an option on short vacations but not an option for a trip abroad. He might feel comfortable that you are near when you land in a hotel, but the trip itself and the unfamiliar surroundings of the hotel will cause a great deal of stress for him.
Some things you can do in your home to keep him comfortable while you are away would include:
Basic Needs - Make sure his basic needs are met while you are gone - fresh water daily, food, temperature remains consistent, etc.
Sound - Leave Cat TV or classical music on as audio calming techniques.
Routine - Make sure he is fed (either in person or by a food timer) on the same schedule he is used to.
Prey Play - Have someone come prey play with him at least twice a day.
Food Puzzles - Leave food puzzles hidden for him throughout the home.
Toys - Get him some new toys and hide them throughout the home for him to discover.
Pheromones - Use a calming pheromone diffuser while you are gone.
Try not to worry about him while on your trip; take the mental and physical time off that you need to replenish yourself so you can lavish him with love when you get home <3