I don't want to lose our cat, but we're going to be away for a half year..
June 10, 2011 6:00 PM   Subscribe

How can I make sure my cat is taken care of for six months while I am away? Do I need to give him up?

Unexpectedly, a three month absence from Toronto is looking like it may turn into six months. We have a cat we got from the human society two years ago, and we love him very much. We've had long-term subletters/catsitters taking care of him when we've been away before, and are organizing somebody to take care of him beginning in August, when we have to be in Japan for three months. Now, it's looking like the three months may turn into six, and I have no idea what to do with our cat.

Our subletter is only going to be in our apartment taking care of him until November, and we don't have any family nearby we can have look after him. Putting him in an off-site cat kennel/hotel for that long sounds too cruel, and not to mention expensive. We don't want to give him up, but we aren't aware of any options that will make it possible for him to come back to us after we return. (And seems nearly impossible to arrange for him to go to Japan and back for the time that we'll be away.)

What options do we have for our cat? Long-term stay facilities that aren't cruel? Begging friends to take him? Help!
posted by mariokrat to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why does the family have to be nearby? You have plenty of time to transport the cat anywhere within the country.

Alternately, ask a friend and offer to pay. Fifty bucks a week would be far cheaper than boarding, and would be a nice sum for the friend.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:09 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Take him with you?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:09 PM on June 10, 2011

Beg friends, and ask them to ask their friends.

I took care of my friend's cat for almost a year while she was studying abroad. I'm a pet person, but was unsure of a long term commitment at the time, which was perfect for me!

Send a monthly stipend for food and supplies. Make arrangements with you vet in case of emergency care.

It's totally doable!
posted by jbenben at 6:11 PM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Sorry, I missed the part of your post where you say it seems impossible for him to go with you.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:11 PM on June 10, 2011

Bring the cat to family that's further away. Or ask a friend to be a foster parent for those months.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:37 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a perfect post for Facebook if you're on it -- you want to reach all your friends, and friends of friends, etc. If no FB, compose and email, send it to every reasonable candidate, relative, etc. and specifically ask them to forward it on to their friends and relatives. Paying a nominal sum each week or month will be a nice bonus, too.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:42 PM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Flying the cat domestically to your family in another state sounds like a better option than giving it up, if local caretakers can't be found.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:43 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

There may be an elderly person who wants a temporary pet or a family with children who want a dry run with a pet that your network of friends/contacts can set you up with, if not "distant" family. (The military pet fostering program, for deployed service members, places a lot of pets with older people around here and it works out really well; the pets are usually adults so not as high-energy, and the older people like to have the companionship, help someone out, and feel needed, but not have to make a long-term pet commitment.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:53 PM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

My sister hosted a friend's cat for almost a year; I think you'll be surprised how helpful the folks you know are willing to be. Especially if you promise up front to pay for food, vet care, etc.
posted by SMPA at 7:13 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I missed the part of your post where you say it seems impossible for him to go with you.

It's definitely impossible to take him. Japan is a rabies-free nation, and stays that way by quarantining cats for 6 months upon arrival. There's no point in having him in quarantine for the entire trip, and I doubt it would be much fun for him, either.

I second asking around. Try your local vets and Friends of the Shelter groups, too -- chances are that someone associated with the vet or animal shelter does foster care, or will know who to ask.
posted by vorfeed at 10:08 PM on June 10, 2011

Lots of people want pets but aren't sure they can make a long-term (12+ years) commitment. Other people might want to see what having a cat is like before deciding for sure whether to adopt one. I bet there's heaps of people out there who would gladly take a cat for six months, especially if you are covering all expenses. I would have in the past, when I was a student, for example, and unable to adopt a pet permanently because of unstable living situations.

If asking friends and friends of friends fails, try advertising in places likely to be read by students and similar. You'll have to interview a lot of people, and maybe do a trial where they babysit the cat for a week or so and then you check up on him. But I'm sure you'll find someone you can trust.
posted by lollusc at 1:25 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing the idea to reach out to friends. Cats aren't too much trouble, especially if all their care is paid for by someone else! I would totally do this for a friend.
posted by radioamy at 8:32 AM on June 11, 2011

Perhaps a local Mefite will offer. I would except that I'm in BC and already have four cats.
posted by deborah at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I took the advice of people here, and went and asked through every channel I could. A couple of people (and even some mefites!) volunteered. Thank you all.
posted by mariokrat at 5:28 PM on June 11, 2011

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