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Home alone cat
June 7, 2006 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Home alone cat - While I am on vacation, should I leave my cat at home or take her somewhere for a week?

I love my cat very much and take really good care of her. I'm headed out of the country for a week-long vacation. I live in an apartment. I have two feeders for her where the food and water supply lasts longer than a week that we use now, plus I will put out more. She has plenty of toys, space, comfy spots and window-sills to lounge on. Should I feel bad about leaving her for a week? I don't really have anyone close by that can check on her, and I think it would be much worse on her if I took her somewhere. She is an indoor cat.
posted by mad_little_monkey to Pets & Animals (29 answers total)
 
Hire someone to come scoop and feed her, costs a tiny bit for a lot of peace of mind. Try Craigslist...someone only needs to come 2-3 times while you're gone. Don't bring her somewhere, I agree.
posted by tristeza at 11:53 AM on June 7, 2006


I leave a pile of food big bowls of water (plural, in case they knock one over) and an extra litter box. Cats don't care if you're home or not as long as there is KAT FUD.. 4 days or 5. More than that and I have a friend look in once or twice.
posted by Gungho at 11:56 AM on June 7, 2006


Ask your vet for recommendations of pet sitters - we have a great lady that used to come feed, scoop, and play with our cats when they were kittens.

One of them has developed some medical problems, so we now board the two of them at the vet if we're away for more than a weekend. They are not happy about it, but I'd rather them be in good hands if something happens.
posted by xsquared-1 at 11:56 AM on June 7, 2006


Owner of 2 cats here....
As above, either find a petsitter from craigslist (get references!), or ask at the vet/petstore for someone with experience.
Maybe try to develop a relationship with a cat-owner neighbor, so you can watch each others'.
Even if you have to pay for a cat-sitter, it's worth it for the peace of mind while you're away.
I would recommend every other day or 3 times over the week.
posted by BillBishop at 12:07 PM on June 7, 2006


Agreed: don't board her. Cats tend to get really wacked-out when displaced from their home territory. But you really oughta find someone to scoop, water, and play with her... every cat is different, but my cats really needed the interaction, and I needed the peace of mind.

Check with vet for recommendations: A-1 idea.
Craigslist: also good.
Coworkers?
Also, I notice you haven't put your location in your MeFi profile... plug that in, and see what Mefites live in your area!
posted by silusGROK at 12:07 PM on June 7, 2006


It would be good to have someone look in on the beast, but one of those feeders with a big tube for a week of cat food and an open lid on the toilet will do in a pinch. Your cat really doesn't much care for you and won't miss you a bit. I also leave the TV on for "company" and to convince burglars that someone is home.
posted by LarryC at 12:12 PM on June 7, 2006


Don't take her somewhere. Be sure to leave plenty of water (a few bowls around the apartment) and enough food, though water is more important.

Also, put down an extra litter box if possible as that will make her vacation from you a bit more pleasant.

If there's a neighbor or someone to look in and pet her, that would be nice, but not essential.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:15 PM on June 7, 2006


We boarded our cats at the local vet a couple of times when we lived in Toronto (and by 'local', I mean 'in the same building'). Our cats aren't good travellers, so it wouldn't be good to take them long distances with any frequency.

They tended to be very shy while they got their bearings, but once they were settled they seemed extremely happy.
posted by lowlife at 12:28 PM on June 7, 2006


My brother in-law left his cat in his apartment for a week and didn't have anyone come and check on it.

He just loaded up the food/water.

He did say the litter box was way too full though.

You could look into getting one of those automatic poop scooping litter boxes.
posted by JPigford at 12:40 PM on June 7, 2006


It depends on the cat - they're so different. A friend of mine left his alone for an extended weekend, and it never really got over the abandonment issues it developed in just that time. Some cats are independant and wouldn't blink at being alone for a while.

Having someone drop by each day is probably the safer choice. My impression is that leaving the cat at a vet or shelter for the time is also much more stressful than it staying at its home and having someone drop by.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:46 PM on June 7, 2006


One thing you can do, as a precaution, is leave the toilet seat up. My cats love flipping over their water bowls, and if i didnt have my "Cat-It" waterer, they'd run out fast. Clean your toilet, and then they'll have water no matter what. (Note: make sure yours is not the cat who will try to jump in and be unable to get out. the walls are slippery!)

Extra litter boxes are a plus too. And extra litter, so they can bury deeper. Automatic boxes wouldnt work without somebody to come by and scoop clean litter in to replace what the cats use.

But really, the most important thing, I think, is to have somebody stop by and give them a bit of love. I'm going on vacation and have secured a neighbor girl to just come over and do her homework around the cats and pet them, so they don't get so lonesome. Most petless kids would love to have an animal "of their own" for a week.
posted by gilsonal at 12:46 PM on June 7, 2006


Even if you hire someone, it's not a bad idea to provide litter boxes and food, in case the someone is unreliable. (From my own experience, unfortunately.)
posted by wryly at 12:59 PM on June 7, 2006


Automatic feeders/waterers are always good, but if it's going to be more than a long weekend, you really should have someone come by and check in a few times a week, just to scoop the litterbox, make sure the water hasn't been knocked over, and check that the cat hasn't gotten itself lodged somewhere bizarre/uncomfortable in the apartment.

I heard a story from a friend who came back from a weekend away to find that her cat had gotten into a bit of trouble with some found twine and rubber bands. The cat was fine, but if it has been a WEEK, the cat would not have been fine.

I also suggest that you have someone you know/trust checking in. After all, your apartment is where you keep all your stuff! If your closest friends are an hour-long drive away, maybe you can get one to make the trip on a Mon or Tues, and the other check in on Thu or Fri, with promises of buying them dinner. Or have a neighbor check in.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 1:03 PM on June 7, 2006


If you absolutely cannot find someone to come visit a few times during that week, boarding her at your vet is a better alternative to just leaving on her own for that long. Cats will get kennel crazy after a few days and could be quite miserable upon their return, but the alternative is the possibility of them getting in to some kind of trouble. My fiance is a vet tech, and she says that for such a shortterm trip, a boarding isn't so bad if you can trust on your vet. At her hospital, they let the cats take turns out of the cage and allow them to wander inside on their own (the hospital is actually a converted house and they do a good job of keeping it look that way outside the exam and surgery rooms).

We're a bit overzealous about caring for our clowder, and if we're going to be gone more than overnight, make sure we have someone visit at least every other day. Sadly, if we can't make arrangements with someone, we don't go as boarding our 10 kids isn't possible (her vet can only board 8 at a time). :)
posted by Spoonman at 1:35 PM on June 7, 2006


We always leave the cats at home (inside) with plenty of water, food and extra cat litter boxes. We usually have a friend or neighborhood teen come over a few times to check on and pet the cats. Leave the name of your vet, your cell or contact number and a cat carrier in case of emergency. The cats are very happy to see us when we get home, but they aren't freaked out by having to ride someplace in the car. Our cats have the added benefit of self watering by drinking from the fishtank (CoolAid!). We just have to make sure the tank stays full for the fish!
posted by 445supermag at 1:36 PM on June 7, 2006


My wife and I always leave our (2) cats home by themselves when we are out of town. Generally we leave out an extra bowl of food and water in addition to the two feeders we have regularly. For anything longer than a weekend we arrange for someone to stop by and check in every couple of days. My parents and several of our friends live nearby, so it's never been an issue to find someone.

Last year we went on vacation in Europe for three weeks with this arrangement and the cats were perfectly fine the entire time.
posted by sbrollins at 1:41 PM on June 7, 2006


We've left our cats home alone with the toilet lid up and a heaping mound of cat food for a week, and it's gone fine. They were kind of wired and glad to see us when we got back -- and they'd shredded all the toilet paper on the roll -- but within a few hours of returning equilibrium was restored.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:43 PM on June 7, 2006


Everything that's been said so far, and I'll add my own cautionary tale: In what has to be the worst decision of my life: I just recently boarded my two cats with a friend, planning to go on vacation. One of the cats escaped out a window (we thought it was secure.) He is still missing, and I've been frantically searching for him for the last week and a half. No telling where he is, as he's lost in a strange neighborhood.

In short: Leave the cat at home if at all possible.
posted by bchaplin at 2:05 PM on June 7, 2006


One thing you can do, as a precaution, is leave the toilet seat up. My cats love flipping over their water bowls, and if i didnt have my "Cat-It" waterer, they'd run out fast. Clean your toilet, and then they'll have water no matter what. (Note: make sure yours is not the cat who will try to jump in and be unable to get out. the walls are slippery!)

YMMV with the seat up. My older cat jumped in and almost brought the seat down on himself in an attempt to get out. It scared the heck out of me.

I would recommend filling the sinks with water and blocking a couple of doors open with shoes or books. My younger cat has, in the past, closed himself in the bedroom when I was out of town for the weekend (he likes to get on his hind legs). Fortunately, there was a litter box in the master bath and the toilet seat, in that case, was open.

The only place I'll "board" my cats is with my mother, because they like it there.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 2:15 PM on June 7, 2006


I'll also add a cautionary tale. I once boarded my cat at the vet for a week when I couldn't find anyone to look in on him - he refused to eat or drink and when I returned, he was in the vert ICU on a drip. One other time when the time away was going to be quite long, I took the cat with me and again, ended up with a very sick, near death cat. Cats can be very territorial and miss their home much more than their owners at times. Best to leave the little beast at home and hire someone to check in on her.
posted by meerkatty at 2:17 PM on June 7, 2006


My cat is pretty social so we ask a neighbor to come in and feed her, pet her, and just be there for an hour a day (it helps that our neighbor likes to come over to partake in our cable TV which she doesn't have. That's fine with us. Cats don't need a lot of attention. Just being there is good enough for ours.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 2:30 PM on June 7, 2006


I'm catsitting this week for friends who are out of town. They say that having someone hanging out with the cats, even a little bit makes them less skittish and nuts when they get back. I think having someone pop in is a good idea, esp if you can find a CL reference or even just someone from work or a neighbor. Here are a few other things they did to prepare for leaving the cats at home

- a few spare water dishes
- closed the bathroom door
- gave me a key but left one with trusted neighbors as a backup
- left me a note of when cats get fed, when cats get medicine, simple checklist, easy to follow
- left me with a letter for the vet in case I needed to go there (as well as directions)
- left those insulating door snakes in doorways that cats needed open to get to food/water/litter in case wind/stupidity tried to close them
- left directions for complicated TV/DVD/Xbox set-up
posted by jessamyn at 2:50 PM on June 7, 2006


Go to a vet, ask for someone to pet-sit for you, and the office will have many workers that pet-sit after work hours for a little extra income. They have the experience, knowledge, love, respect, and dependability second only to yourself and an actual vet. They wouldn't be working at a vet office if they didn't.
posted by cleverusername at 3:18 PM on June 7, 2006


I'd have someone come in a few times during the week. Think it's better not to put your pets through 2 strange variables--people and environment--when they're already wondering why you're not there.

Also, having someone randomly come by your place may dissuage anyone thinking about breaking in...
posted by sfkiddo at 3:46 PM on June 7, 2006


At the very least, have someone stop by your house a couple times and check on the cat while your gone.

Better yet, do you have a teenage brother or sister who would like to spend some time in your apartment/house and keep the cat company. Tell them that they can use the TV, stereo, eat some food etc. (but no parties, LOL). I bet that they would jump at the opportunity to have their own "crib" for a week.

I am far past the teenage years, but some friends emphatically told me to come over to their house or stay in their house if I wanted and use their pool as much as I wanted, if I would just keep an eye on their dog while they were on vacation. And I did! The dog was happy too!
posted by bim at 4:25 PM on June 7, 2006


If you want a professional pet sitter, plug your zip into the PSI sitter locater. There's a small barrier to entry to join PSI, so it really shouldn't be a fly-by-night operation. We get asked for references all the time (and copies of our bond, which many people find very important) and never bat an eye about it.

FWIW, to give you a base price, we charge $15 for 1-2 cats for a check in, food and water fill-up, litter scoop, playtime, and anything else that needs attention (watering plants, retreival of mail/newspapers, turning lights off and on). Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions on what to look for in a pet sitter.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:24 PM on June 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


My two cats (mother and daughter) stay by themselves when I'm away, with a rota of feeders coming in to top up their Hill's Science Food and change the water. They have a cat flap to go in and out as they choose (no debate on this please, it's been done to death, and they are English cats, which tend to be outdoor animals).

Because there's two of them, and they get on so well, I don't worry about them being without human company. They're not lap cats and don't seem to want more than about 5 minutes fussing a day (believe me, I've tried to fuss them more and they just walk away). When I'm home, they usually ignore me for 99% of the time, unless they want something from me.

But a solo cat? With nobody coming in to check on her? I agree with everyone who's suggested a pet sitter. A week is a long time to leave a cat without someone checking on her.
posted by essexjan at 5:43 PM on June 7, 2006


You didn't mention where you live, but I'd chime in with the above and say: ask your veterinarian if there are any services or trustworthy people (say, vets or vet assistants) who make house runs for a little extra cash. Even here in Cambridge, MA, you can convince a qualified and trained vet assistant to come by for $15 a week or so to play, feed, water, and tend to your kitty. I wouldn't trust Craigslist - go with a verifiable recommendation.
posted by mykescipark at 7:29 PM on June 7, 2006


Have someone you know, or a reputable hire, check on your cats and household while you're gone. We were very glad that we had a catsitter come in for oiur summer vacation two years running. She made sure food and litter and general things were good and she played with the cat who wanted to play. She also made sure our top floor apartment -- with no air conditioning -- wasn't too hot for them in a muggy Toronto summer, arranging blinds and fans as needed.

But she was also the one to alert us that our fridge had broken in 2002. She cleaned up the puddle before the cats tracked it through the whole house and emptied the fridge of the few things we had in there so we wouldn't open the door to a death-stench. And she kept us up to date on when power came back on during the big power outage in 2003, so we knew that the food in our freezer was fine and we didn't have to throw it out when we came home.

If we had left our cats alone, or boarded them, both they and our household would have been seriously worse for wear.
posted by rosemere at 8:17 PM on June 7, 2006


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