Long vacations and cats?
June 13, 2022 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Prepping to get cats of my own soon but also have been thinking about going on a month-long vacation for quite a while. What's the best option for dealing with cats? Is this possible?

Best case scenario my parents would be able to watch them but that depends on their pet situation next year. In the case they couldn't would a pet sitter coming daily be okay? A month is just a long time! I also thought about boarding but I think a pet sitter with them in their own home would be preferable. This is wayyy ahead of time but it's one of my last big hangups about getting pets.
posted by clarinet to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My mom travels for up to six weeks at a time a few times a year and during those times she has her cat sitter come every other day. Her cat has a big feeder and water fountain and so the sitter just checks on those, scoops the litter box, and spends the rest of the time giving cuddles.
posted by anderjen at 2:47 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wouldn't leave kittens largely alone for that long (you want to be playing with them and socializing them more!) For a healthy adult cat, I'd do daily (or every-other-day, if the budget is really tight) visits from a cat sitter.

This winds up being another ~$30-35/day expense on any vacation I take, but the cats are fine with it.
posted by Metasyntactic at 2:57 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It depends on the cat - my last cat didn't like being alone and would stop eating if I was gone more than a couple of days. She did better when I boarded with her at a cattery where she'd be around people. My current cat is more anxious and less social. Last time I went away I had a cat sitter come to my place and she did fine.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 2:57 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use TrustedHousesitters (as a cat sitter)- the sitter stays in your house/apartment the whole time. You don't pay them; the sitter is usually someone who wants to visit your city and this way they can avoid paying for a hotel. You have to pay a yearly membership fee.
posted by pinochiette at 3:01 PM on June 13, 2022 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The husband of a friend does the Trusted Housesitter thing as a housesitter. He loves staying with the dogs and/or cats and uses the housesit to work on his novel-writing. Obviously depends on your willingness to let an unknown person stay in your house for a month, but I know he loves doing it and reports nothing but positive experiences. And, as pinochiette says, it's free to you except for the cost of membership.
posted by briank at 3:12 PM on June 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, for a trip that long I’d find a house sitter if at all possible. I would also try not to take a trip that long until I’d tested it out with one or two week-long trips first. If your cats are going to absolutely flip out and lose their shit with you gone for longer than a weekend, you want to know that before you’ve planned a month away.
posted by Stacey at 3:13 PM on June 13, 2022 [6 favorites]

When I was a road warrior, my kitty (age 5 to 10 at that time) was pretty chill about being home alone for 4-5 days at a time, with a gravity feeder and water fountain. I got someone to look in on her every few days for trips longer than that. I realize some people might say I am a terrible person for that, but it worked out alright for us.
posted by Alterscape at 3:15 PM on June 13, 2022

I would plan on getting your new kitties after your next long trip. Wait until they're about a year old, then work them up to longer trips gradually so they can understand that you're coming back.

Still, a month is a long time. I'd rather them be at someone else's home if I had to be away for that long, I would just feel more comfortable knowing someone had eyes on them all the time. I've only been apart from my current cats once or twice and I hated every second knowing they were home alone, but that's just me, only you will know how you will feel about it. That's why I feel like do your trip first and fully enjoy it.
posted by bleep at 3:24 PM on June 13, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: It really depends on the cat. My current cat is high maintenance and gets separation anxiety when left alone for more than a day. And she is afraid of strangers, so she hides from the pet sitter and will not accept pets and hugs from that person. (If the person were actually living in the house the whole time, I imagine my cat would eventually warm up to them.) So, if I'm going to be gone for more than a few days, I have her boarded.

Since you said "cats" and not "a cat," if you have multiple cats and they're good buddies I would think they'd be less likely to get lonely. That said, a month is a long time to leave cats alone in a house. I might still have them boarded for a trip away that long unless you have someone able to live with them.
posted by bananana at 3:31 PM on June 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I concur to just get the cats AFTER your vacation this year, save yourself the trouble.

Otherwise it depends on your cats. I used to catsit for a friend and the cat was better behaved if someone hung out in her vicinity frequently, so I'd just be over there for a few hours a night. Other cats may not care. Do you have anyone in mind that might be a good petsitter? What are they up to doing, or are you going to be hitting up for strangers online?
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:32 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am planning on cats in August and the trip next spring so I probably will not wait to get the cats. I also will get two, which I think will help, and they will not be kittens-planning on adopting teens if possible. (I would not leave kittens this long, for sure). So by the time I would go away they would be 1 year+.

Thanks for all the answers so far!
posted by clarinet at 3:48 PM on June 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

You could also foster cats between now and your next big trip, but you have to be the kind who doesn’t get too attached
posted by advicepig at 3:59 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

We have two young cats and hadn’t left them at all during the pandemic so were very hesitant to take an extended trip. We used Trusted Housesitters and have been extremely pleased! We’ve had four sitters, a couple for one week trips and one for just under three weeks. It’s really the only way we will consider travel now.
posted by kittygrandma at 4:05 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

You're cool, just save up for the cat sitter.
posted by kingdead at 4:05 PM on June 13, 2022

This is definitely do-able. I second the suggestion of TrustedHousesitters as a friend does it and is super reliable. I found my cat sitters via Rover and they've been great.

I have two cats who are close so this helps. I started with an overnight here and there, then built up to two nights in a row. I went on a road trip with them for ten days for practice; that's another story but it went well. Then I had a cat sitter come every other day when I was gone for a week. Now I'm about to be gone for 2.5 weeks and the cat sitter will be coming every other day: I have an automatic feeder, a leafy balcony, and ample room so it's more about the social contact and litter box. I met the sitter via Rover and she came twice to prepare; I paid the second time after the meet and greet. I have had very good experiences with the site! My parents have an extra key in case of emergency. I'm paying for my cat sitter to come for an hour each time and it's just under $30 for two cats. Yes, it can get pricey but that's owning a pet these days!

I used to travel for a month to six weeks at a time before I had cats and/or when I had a family member there to watch them. Now I just don't want to be apart from them for that long! You can definitely find something that works for you and your kitties, especially if you adopt two and start training for this early on. However, you may find that you miss them even more than they miss you! It's kitten season and there are a lot of cats looking for a forever home. Sure, a home where there's always a loving human present is nice, if unrealistic, but better to have a loving home with a responsible human who travels occasionally than be stuck in the shelter!
posted by smorgasbord at 5:01 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: they would be 1 year+

While the first year is key for development, kittens don't become cats until around 2 years. Getting two will definitely be the way to go though - the main issue is often boredom, and they will certainly help keep themselves occupied. Though just know, there is some variation with cats - my one cat as a kitten (and honestly, still somewhat as a young cat) really need to be run ragged occasionally, whereas other cats I had were only like that as kittens, and then grew out of it.

Generally though, every other day is totally fine in terms of food/water/litter, I've left cats for up to three days - it's more an issue of their potential emotional needs, which will be hard to know before you get them. Some cats really don't care about human attention, some really seek it out, most fall somewhere in between.
posted by coffeecat at 5:01 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Our cats sometimes get mad when we go away for a while and pee in some corner, not necessarily where a cat sitter finds it The stain and the smell, ugh. Don't forget to close all closet doors and bedrooms where you don't want cat pee, when you do get cats and leave.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 5:33 PM on June 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

As a data point, it's definitely dependent on the needs of the kitty—when away, our cat sitter visits not once, but twice a day, morning and evening. We have a bit of a fussy one who is particular about eating at certain times.

ps don't forget to pay the cat tax!
posted by Ahmad Khani at 7:13 PM on June 13, 2022

For about 8 years(age 10-18) I took care of my world traveler neighbor’s cat, probably three months a year, 2-4 weeks at a time.

I went over there for a few hours a day to do my homework, pet the cat, water the plants, and read her magazines (she had New Yorker, Atlantic, etc). I loved the quiet house with no television blaring. Cat liked sitting next to me and purring.

So…basically, find an introverted nerdy neighbor kid and pay them to take car of the cats.
posted by rockindata at 7:19 PM on June 13, 2022

When I had to go away for a while, I tried to make my living room a place that my friend would enjoy hanging out: tea, snacks, interesting but short books/reading material, a table to work at. I've been told by two people, though, that the most effective feature was a 3-D puzzle game that was both frustrating, fun, and compelling -- they said that thing got them to spend a _lot_ of time on my sofa, keeping my cats company.

I also had a pro cat sitter, plus friends who were invited to hang out and _not_ change litter boxes. I think they enjoyed it (the cats too).
posted by amtho at 7:25 PM on June 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I wouldn’t leave my solo cat with someone just visiting daily for more than a week. I am out of town for nine weeks later this summer, and I have a friend coming to stay at my place for that time. My cat gets really needy and cries a lot if he’s left alone too long—even a 14 hour workday is absolutely tragic as far as he’s concerned.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:38 PM on June 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: One thing you can do with kittens (and yeah, cats are kittens for up to four years for bigger animals) is get them used to travelling and visiting others in their houses. I've made a point of doing that with mine and they travel fairly well. It can be a big treat for inquisitive kittens to go explore a new house with all its interesting smells, just make sure they don't get outside because a new outdoors can be too interesting. (Ask me about who did a runner for two weeks.) That way they can go stay with the cat sitter for more socialisation.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:54 AM on June 14, 2022

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