Life can get very scary for cats when their family suddenly disappears. Cats are creatures of habit, so keeping their environment as familiar as possible is the best way to have happy cats while you are away…and possibly give them a little vacation too!
Everything hinges on the people giving the care your cat will receive, whether you choose a boarding facility or a pet sitter. Always ask for references before entrusting your best feline friend to someone you don’t know.
A good cat care business will be run by people with years of experience in cat behavior who are committed to your cats’ emotional needs as well as their physical care. Allow yourself time to find the right person so you aren’t rushed into choosing someone who could traumatize your cats.
If left at a boarding facility, it can seem to your cats like they have not only lost you but everything they know and love, so choose your boarding facility wisely.
A cat-only facility will usually be quieter and not have as many unfamiliar smells as a place that boards both dogs and cats. If you must board at a place with both, try to choose one where cat boarding and dog boarding are well separated.
Cat boarding facilities offer many conveniences, both for you and your cat, including safe transportation and live streaming webcams so you can keep a close eye on your cats while you are away. They also are committed to lowering stress by making sure your cats stay on their same diet or medications, with familiar bedding and toys so the new place can smell a little like home.
Happy Cats recommends Colorado Cats for a current boarding facility. We are also very excited about the upcoming Catagonia Cat Hotel, slated to open in November 2016.
The main thing to avoid is people who do “boarding” in their own homes. The State of Colorado regulates pet boarding facilities and for good reason. Any time you combine animals who don’t know each other, you run a higher risk of stress and illness.
An unlicensed facility can be a breeding ground for contagious diseases. It’s required that any boarding facility have a proven, working relationship with a veterinarian in case your cats need veterinary care while you are away.
Places like this can also be run by people who have little or no knowledge of cat behavior. Placing your cats into a strange home with complete strangers and forcing them to live with animals they don’t know can be terrifying to them, especially as they will feel like they have lost you too. The gold standard for introducing cats to cats can take weeks for them to adjust gradually and even a long vacation does not allow time for that.
Anything could happen to your cats in a private home. An unlicensed “boarding” facility in an uninspected home can be run by people who could easily lose your cat while you are gone, or worse, be animal abusers masquerading as a business. Please don’t endanger your cats by putting them in this situation.
Many cats do better if left in their own homes because at least their environment doesn’t change when their people do.
However, pet sitting in Colorado is an unregulated business and anyone can say anything in an online directory. It is especially important to make sure the people taking care of your cats are cat friendly with cat skills. A quality pet sitting business will also have insurance and be bonded if they have employees.
We recommend inviting the cat sitter over to meet the cats before you leave, as introducing this stranger to your cats can put them more at ease. A reputable cat sitter will offer this as a complementary service. The more you can do to show your cats the new pet sitter is part of the “family,” the more comfortable your cats will be.
Your cats can also tell you a lot about how they feel about this new person in your home. A quality cat sitter will make sure to take notes on the particulars of your cats and their care to refer to while you are away.
Some good pet sitters are great with dogs but offer cat care as an afterthought. Cats are not just small dogs and their behavior can be very different from our canine friends. We’ve even heard that some dog sitters put cat care in the category of caring for plants.
Obviously, someone who thinks cats are part of the decor will not give your cats the best experience and could even be neglectful. Finding someone who deeply understands cat behavior is the best way to ensure your cat has a good experience while you are gone.
Many people do pet sitting as side jobs in their neighborhoods. Again, be careful to get references before letting someone into your home, especially if you want overnight care.
Some questions to ask of your potential cat sitter are:
- How long have you been caring for cats?
- What would you do if my cats are hiding when you come to care for them?
- What experience do you have giving medications or special diets?
- How will you know if it’s time to take my cat to the vet?
- What is your favorite toy for playing with cats?
- How much time do you spend playing during each visit?
- Do you have certification in feline first aid?
Taking the time to find someone who can actually turn out to be your cats’ new friend can make all the difference in the world to your cats…and you!
Here are some cat sitters that Happy Cats can recommend:
Play and Treat Pet Service: Pet Sitting & Behavior Consulting, (719) 686-8778