Overnight is one thing, but how can I make sure my four feline snowflakes get proper nutrition while their humans are off on a three-day cross-country jaunt? Given we've got one cat with food intolerances, one super-picky princess, one food-snatcher, and one with what the vet has described as a "highly efficient colon" (meaning she needs wet food every day), things are going to need a bit more consideration and prep-work than just leaving a big bowl of crunchies out. Please, kittyfolks, share your wisdoms!
Normally my partner and I are homebodies, meaning that the extent of our travel tends toward overnights away 2 - 3 times a year. However, this coming October we will be heading across the country on a 3-day trip to attend a Very Important Event (friends' wedding).
This will be both the longest AND furthest trip away from our four cats since we adopted them nearly 2 years ago. I know it's "only" three days, and that I am probably being somewhat of an obsessive hovery cat-guardian, but there are nonetheless a few considerations I wanted to query the hive regarding, most of which relate to food and feeding.
Basically I am concerned about making sure:
(a) everyone gets to eat every day, and
(b) everyone eats THEIR food every day.
Additionally, I wanted to hopefully get a sense of what it is reasonable to ask of a cat-sitter (whether paid or unpaid -- I am willing to pay, but not sure how much the going rate is for certain tasks).
Pertinent details include:
- The younger three kitties (2-year-old ex-feral littermates Brodie
, and Coraline
) are mainly raw-fed these days. Their normal daily diet consists of about 90% raw meat (which I mix up large batches of in advance and freeze/thaw portions of as needed; it includes some organ meat and bone, per "prey model" ratios), 8% canned food (really just a teeny bit mixed with water for "gravy"), and 2% crunchies (dry food, which for these guys is basically "treats"). This sounds complicated but really isn't, at least when I'm home (as the advance prep only needs to happen once a month or so; day to day, it's no more vexing than feeding canned food is).
- The older one (Nikki
, who is almost 10 years old) hates almost everything food-wise, and won't even get within ten feet of anything raw, but will always
eat Purina dry food and usually
(though not 100% of the time) eat certain specific flavors of Fancy Feast wet food. She is also accustomed to eating at specific times, in her own room, with the door shut to keep out scavengers and interlopers -- and then being let out immediately
Now, what would make the whole thing MUCH easier would be if I could put Nikki in one room and leave the rest of the house for the other three. Problem is, while Nikki isn't super fond of her younger housemates (except Brodie on occasion), she's even less fond of being alone, and she would probably spend the entire three days scratching and banging on the inside of the door until partner & I got back. I don't think she would necessarily be permanently psychologically scarred, but she would definitely be miserable. And ideally I want this to be a "no misery" excursion for ALL concerned, human and feline alike.
As far as what I would want the cat-sitter to do, basically that would include coming over twice each day, scooping all the litterboxes (currently we've got three large ones), putting out raw/wet food for the youngsters, and then feeding Nikki in her room (but hanging around until she was done and then letting her back out into the house-proper).
Partner & I have sort of a reciprocal cat-sitting arrangement with his locally-dwelling parents, in the sense that we're each other's go-to cat sitter -- but for the level of complexity I am looking for it just feels kind of weird to be asking people that I KNOW would refuse to let me pay them. I am not necessarily the best judge of these things, though, so figured I would ping the People of the Internet just in case there was some politeness factor I might be missing or neglecting to consider.
The things I feel slightly possibly weird about are:
(a) asking that anyone else serve my cats raw meat (even though of course I would not require them to wash dishes -- I could even use disposable containers to make cleanup super easy), and
(b) asking folks to hang around while Princess Nikki consumes her victuals within her private boudoir (and then tidy up any bits of dry food she leaves behind, given that the ONLY crunchies she will eat have ingredients that set off Brodie's food intolerances, which when triggered give him what can only be described as the "exploding shits").
Again, for a single overnight I wouldn't be inclined to figure any of this a big deal, but for three days I just don't have the experience or instinct or info to judge what I might reasonably request. I mean I know I will just need to go ahead and ask at some point, but I want to make sure nothing I am considering asking is liable to come across as tantamount to requesting that they sacrifice a goat in my kitchen or something.
Finally, regardless of who I get to cat-sit (it'll probably be either my quasi-in-laws or my across-the-street neighbors), how might I be able to express my gratitude toward them in a manner they'll accept, if they won't let me pay them money (which is a distinct possibility in either case)?