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What to do with your cat when you go on holiday

Jetting off somewhere special? If you’re wondering what to do with your cat when you go on holiday, you have a number of options to consider.

All cats differ, but the home-bods or more nervous ones likely prefer to stay at home where they are less stressed. In these circumstances, a reliable home sitter is probably the best option for your four-legged friend. For cats who are comfortable with being away from home and in the company of strangers, catteries can provide a great alternative but be sure to choose carefully.

Read our guide for top tips on what to do when you’re away from home and with some careful planning, you’ll be enjoying a hassle-free getaway in no time.

Finding a pet sitter for your cat

Keeping your cat at home is the safest and least unsettling option when you go on holiday. They are less likely to be stressed and will be more content in their own environment. 

Consider getting a cat sitter, either a friend, neighbour or family member, who can visit at least twice a day and make sure your cat is well-fed and safe. However, very young or old cats or those with certain health conditions may need more frequent visits. 

You can also ask your local vet to see if they have anyone to come look after your cat or if they can offer recommendations for a pet-sitting service.

Before you go on holiday, make sure you leave the following for your cat sitter:

  • emergency contact details
  • details of your vet
  • enough cat litter, food and medication
  • daily care instructions

How to choose the right cat sitter

Finding a professional pet sitter that is right for you and your cat is important. Not only will this person watch over your cat while you are away, but they will also come and go from your house. Doing some research on local pet sitters will help you choose someone you can rely on and trust.

Tips for finding the right cat sitter

  • Read through their profile carefully and check for references, reviews and insurance. If your cat requires medication or special care, make sure they’re experienced to do those things
  • Once you’ve picked a cat sitter, arrange a meet-up in your house as early as you can or at least a few days before you leave. This will give you a good chance to get to know them in person and also introduce them to your cat
  • Don’t feel obliged to book a cat sitter you don’t feel comfortable with. You can always meet more than one cat sitter to help you decide
  • Make a booking early. If an unexpected cancellation happens, have someone as a backup cat sitter

Cat-sitter checklist

Leaving your cat with a cat sitter when you're on holiday? Download our cat-sitter checklist for everything they need to know, from dietary requirements to medical needs.

Before you leave for your holiday, you’ll need to think about the following.

  • Where is the cat food kept?
  • Where can the food bowls and water bowls be found
  • When should your cat be fed?
  • Is your cat allowed outside? If they are allowed outside, what time do they need to be back in?
  • Is there a cat flap your cat uses?
  • Where are the litter trays located?
  • Where can your cat’s waste be disposed of?
  • How often should the cat’s litter be replaced?
  • What is your cat’s favourite toy?
  • What’s your cat’s personality like?
  • Is there an emergency contact that your cat sitter can speak to? Who is your vet?
  • Does your cat take any medication? Give a full list of these to your cat sitter
  • Does the cat sitter know where the cat carrier is, in case of emergency?
Download cat-sitter checklist

How to prepare when leaving your cat at home 

While you're undoubtedly quite busy getting ready for your vacation, it would be a good idea to tidy up your home and get rid of any possibly harmful things before leaving your cat alone for an extended period. Read more about common household hazards for cats.

If your cat is sensitive to change try to spread the house cleaning, packing and general holiday prep over a few days prior to leaving, rather than doing everything all at once as it may stress your cat out. 

In case your cat experiences boredom when they’re alone, leave their favourite toys available to them and also ask your pet sitter to have regular play sessions. Don’t forget to place any string-like toys such as feather teasers or fishing rods out of reach to avoid any risk of your cat getting tangled or stuck. 

Make sure to test the doors with your pet sitter to ensure they will be able to access your home easily. It would be useful to give a backup key to someone you know in case of any issues.

How to choose a good cattery

Booking a cattery can ensure peace of mind when you’re on holiday. Before you make a decision, you’ll need to visit and inspect the cattery and ensure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date. You’ll also need to think ahead – book a cattery far in advance of your trip to ensure they aren’t already fully booked. 

When you visit the cattery, you’ll need to check:

  • is the cattery licensed? Ask to see the licence
  • can your cat escape? Double doors or a safety corridor are better
  • will your cat be kept separately from other cats? You’ll need to make sure they don’t have direct contact as this can make them feel stressed
  • do the pens have heating or insulation? Can they be cleaned easily?
  • is there space between the pens to ensure that cats can’t see each other?
  • are food and water bowls clean?
  • will the cattery be content to administer any medication your cat may need

You can find more details of your nearest catteries on the Find Pet Boarding website.

Travelling with your cat

Most cats would prefer not to travel at all, so bear this in mind. They often find journeys stressful, even if they don't necessarily show it.

If travelling with your cat is unavoidable, you'll need to make sure that the environment at the destination is appropriate and has the right veterinary care as well as available space.

In most cases, your cat will travel in a cat carrier. If you're travelling by aeroplane, you'll need to plan whether your cat will be travelling in the hold or the cabin. Speak to your vet for more advice on travelling with your cat abroad, or take a look at our guide for more information.

Read more about travelling with your cat
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