Going on Holidays and Leaving Your Pet Behind
Recently I was preparing to go away on holiday and foremost among my concerns were not the usual ones, like packing and inoculations, but rather how my two cats Jessie and Jazzy would fare in my absence. On a previous occasion, when they were just kittens, I had left them with a lovely lady who takes care of pets full time. Home Boarders insist animals are up to date with vaccinations and have great experience with animals and their needs. That had worked very well but unfortunately on this occasions she too was going away.
Eventually I decided to accept a friend’s offer to come in twice a day to look after my pets. She only lives a few doors away and was, I knew, very reliable. However I still felt a bit concerned knowing that Jessie and Jazzy would be alone for most of the time. At least they had each other. Also they would be remaining in their own environment and would not have to adapt to new surroundings or other animals.
My friend does not have any pets herself and that made me particularly anxious that she would familiarise herself with mine; then they would see her as a friend and not a complete stranger. It is important that animals feel secure with the person who is to care for them. One of my cats is particularly nervous and I wanted her to feel safe in my friend’s presence. She has a hiding place, so I made sure Catherine was aware of this in case she panicked when Jessie did not at first appear. I also advised her that, if opening a window to make sure the door was closed, as my cats are house cats only. On one occasion another cat I had escaped through an open window and became quite traumatised by the’ great outdoors’, staying close to the back door until he was allowed back to the ‘safe indoors’.
Luckily Catherine had no objection to cleaning out the waste trays and this is a job which should be undertaken once a day to ensure your pet’s comfort and for reasons of hygiene. I left extra bags of litter and of course plenty of foodstuffs, wet and dry. I advised Catherine to put the dry food and any wet food in pouches on the top shelf in the kitchen cupboard, as the cats have been known to jump inside and topple the packets, bite through the plastic or cardboard to get at the goodies inside! This also meant a mess all over the kitchen floor.
In general cats are most comfortable in their own home and do not require the constant attention that dogs do. Dogs are more relational animals and tend to watch and wait for their owner to return. Bearing this in mind it is probably better for them to have some company while you are away. This will not only stimulate them but also help to alleviate any loneliness they might feel, which could result in depression. Yes animals can get ‘down’ like us! Some people opt to have a pet-sitter come and live-in while they are away. This is an affordable option as you will usually only need to cover food and supplies, with any other offering left to your own discretion. Again it is advisable to acquaint your dog with them, maybe arrange for them to bring her/him for walks. If you are someone who would not be comfortable with a ‘stranger’ in your house kennels are of course a possibility just make sure they have good credentials. The vet can help with any questions you might have.
Always visit the kennels beforehand and make sure you have no nagging doubts about any aspects of the place. This will be your dog’s home while you are away so you want it to be a happy one. Find out about the staff-to-pet ratio, frequency of exercise for the animals, grooming options and where your pet will be housed, as well as how much interaction they will have with other animals. Dogs tend to do well at kennels because they are social animals. They are by nature pack animals who live in the moment. As well as having fun with their new friends they can learn valuable socialization skills along the way. Make sure anyone who has responsibility for your pet while you are away has up-to-date contact details as well as the number of your vet.
Always ensure that you animal is healthy and has had their shots before you go on holiday. The vet can advise you too about the best options for leaving your pet behind and may have recommendations for pet sitters and boarding options. A lot of vets themselves offer a boarding service with round the clock animal care. This can be an ideal situation if your pet has health problems.
All in all there are plenty of options to consider when leaving your pet behind and don’t be upset that they might not want to come home because they are having such a good time!