If you are anxious about leaving your cat while on vacation, there are a few things you can do to help ease your mind. First, make sure you have a good understanding of your cat's personality and how she behaves when left alone. This will help you to better anticipate any possible problems that may occur. Second, make sure you have a good plan in place for when you return home. This will help you to avoid any surprises and to minimize the amount of stress you will experience. Finally, remember that cats are very adaptable and will usually adjust well to being left alone. If you are worried about your cat, make sure to keep in mind the tips above and to give her plenty of love and attention when you are away.
You've packed your bags, printed your tickets, and reserved a spot for your pet at the best boarding facility in town, but despite being prepared and knowing your pet is in the best possible hands, you still have a nagging feeling of anxiety about leaving your cat or dog behind while you go on a fun trip.
Maybe it's the first time you've left your pet with a sitter overnight, or maybe you'll be gone for two weeks—either way, you're worried: 'What if my pet thinks I abandoned him?' and 'She likes certain treats at certain times of day.'Will this person know that?’
Could leaving your dog or cat cause you to experience separation anxiety?
Not to worry, we have expert advice on how to deal with the anxiety that comes with leaving your cat or dog in the care of someone else.
How to Get Ready to Leave Your Pets
If you're planning a long-overdue vacation and you know you'll have to leave your beloved four-legged pal behind, Beth Stultz-Hairston, vice president of marketing and operations for Pet Sitters International, a King, North Carolina-based educational association for professional pet sitters, recommends searching for several well-qualified pet sitters before booking your plane tickets.
"It's natural for pet parents to be concerned about leaving their cat or dog in the care of someone else," she says, emphasizing the importance of hiring a professional pet sitter.
She adds that you should look for professional pet-sitting businesses that have credentials such as pet-sitter insurance, a pet-sitting contract, and proof of a background check.
After you've found a few pet sitters you like, Jessica Abernathy, president of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, a professional pet sitting organization based in Mt. Laurel Township, New Jersey, recommends meeting them in person and interviewing them.
"I highly recommend doing a pre-meeting because it really eases the pet parent's mind," she says. "Prepare different questions for the sitter and explain what your expectations are."Remember, you want a professional who has been screened, educated, and certified."
Giving clients a tour of her home, getting to know them and their pets, and answering any questions they may have are the first things Melanie Lewis, a professional pet sitter in the Phoenix area with Rover.com, says she does with clients to make them feel at ease before the stay even starts.
"Relieving my pet owner's anxiety about leaving their pet while traveling for work or vacation begins with our very first meeting," says Lewis, who has 22 years of experience caring for people's pets. "I not only give the owner and their pet a tour of my home and property to show them exactly where their dog will be living, but I also take the time to chat with the owner about their pet to learn as much as I can about my guest dog's lifestyle, habits, routine, and personality."
How to Handle the Stress of Leaving a Pet Emotionally
Let’s say you’ve done the pre-trip visits, but you’re still feeling guilt or nervousness about leaving your pet. First things first—remind yourself that this actually makes you a good pet parentYou are concerned about your beloved pet's health and emotional well-being.
“Emotions tell us something about our values. They tell us about what matters the most,” says Michelle Lopez, Ph.D., the assistant director of the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management in San Diego, California"When we feel anxious or guilty, it's kind of—in an odd way—a really good indication of the connection we have with our pet; if we can remind ourselves, 'OK, I'm feeling these things because of how connected I am and what this pet means to me,' it can help us cope more effectively."
Lopez also wants pet parents to remember that leaving a pet with a trusted sitter or a reputable daycare means accepting responsibility for that pet; even though you'll be away from your dog or cat, you're still taking steps to keep them healthy, fed, loved, and safe.
If you're still worried about leaving your pet, Shannon Amabile, MFTI, of Silver Lake Psychology in Los Angeles, California, recommends deep breathing exercises.
"Take a moment to recognize the space you're in, and that the anxiety is only a future worry," Amabile says, adding that by breathing in for four seconds, holding for four seconds, and exhaling for four seconds, you're "creating this rhythm in the body and occupying the mind with counting," which helps slow down racing thoughts.
Amabile also suggests affirmations that remind you of previous times when you had to leave your pet (even if it was just for a trip to the store) and how successful it was.
Tips for Making the Actual Separation Go As Smoothly As Possible
The day of your trip has finally arrived, and you're getting ready to drop your dog or cat off at the kennel or the sitter. "One of the most important things you can do, even if you're still having separation anxiety from leaving your dog or cat," says Kristen DeBlasio, owner and manager of K9 to 5 Dog Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
According to DeBlasio, "it transcends right through the leash to the dog. They sense, 'My person is nervous, why are they nervous? Something bad must be going to happen.'"
Even if your heart is racing and you're feeling guilty, the best thing you can do when dropping off your pet is to remain calm.
"Don't do the, 'Oh my god, goodbye, I'm going to miss you!' Make it routine—'I'll be back, see you later.' Whatever you normally do when you leave them," DeBlasio advises.
Another thing to remember when your emotions take over is that dogs, by nature, are pack animals who live in the moment, according to DeBlasio; they'll miss you, but they might have fun with their new friends and learn valuable socialization skills in the process.
She also advises against bringing your dog's favorite toys, blankets, or dog beds from home because they may spend a lot of time "resource guarding," which means that instead of getting used to their surroundings or engaging, they will protect their things from other dogs or pets in the home or boarding facility.
After you've parted ways with your dog, it's important to enjoy your trip and your time away; this is something for you, Lopez says, and it's important to remember that.If you rest, relax, and have fun, you'll return as a better pet parent than you were before you left.
"Taking care of yourself is really important, and it also helps to reduce the risk or possibility of resenting the animal if you're thinking, 'I can't ever leave them,'" she adds.
Checking In—Without Feeding Your Anxiety
If you've chosen a facility with photo updates or a webcam, or if you set up a wireless treat-dispensing pet camera, such as a Petcube Bites Wi-Fi Pet Camera & Treat Dispenser in your home where you've left your pet with a pet sitter, it's best to proceed with boundaries, Amabile says.
"Reaching out and checking in on [your pet] is a quick fix for anxiety, but it doesn't actually help you relax," she says, adding that "once you've checked in, it opens up the possibility of checking in two or three more times—and then you've stopped helping yourself."
Lopez suggests devising a strategy that works for both parties, such as checking in once in the morning and once before bed, rather than obsessively.You are allowing yourself to enjoy your vacation while also feeling like the responsible parent you are.
Lewis sends digital updates, including photos, to her clients several times per day via Rover.com's app.
"This gives them peace of mind while also brightening their day with cute pet snapshots," she says. "Some pet parents are more engaged than others, wanting detailed daily updates versus others who only want a quick check in.""I tailor my updates to the specific needs of each pet owner."
According to Abenathy, some pet parents prefer handwritten check-in journals, while others prefer weekly texts or emails, "report card" pet-sitting software that automatically sends updates, and still others want daily videos to see their pets in action.
"I had one client who had me record his cat meowing every day for him while he was gone for three weeks," she laughs, "but we're happy to do those special requests for our clients."
Stultz-Hairston also suggests tailoring each client's communication plan.
"Pet sitters typically leave daily notes at the home, but they can also send daily updates and photos or updates and photos after each visit," she says.Whether a client prefers Facetime or a text or email, the pet sitter can tailor the communication to the pet parent's preferences."
As Lopez points out, it's all about striking a healthy balance and understanding that leaving your pet—and the anxiety that comes with it—is completely normal.
"It's not unhealthy to be separated [from your pet] or to feel anxious," she says.
How can I help my cat overcome separation anxiety while I'm away on vacation?
While You're Away On Vacation The best way to comfort kitty while you're gone is to leave a worn T-shirt or other piece of clothing or bedding with your scent; anything with your scent will remind your cat of you and the deep sense of comfort kitty associates with you, which will help reduce separation anxiety.leave a worn T-shirt or other piece of clothing or bedding that carries your smell. Anything with your scent will remind your cat of you and the deep sense of comfort kitty associates with you, which will help reduce separation anxiety.
When you go on vacation, do your cats feel abandoned?
Vacations are intended to be enjoyable for people, but because of the disruption in routine, they can, regrettably, be stressful for cats and lead to behavioral issues and separation anxiety.they can, unfortunately, be a cause of stress for cats and result in behavior problems and separation anxiety.
Will my cat be okay if I take a weeklong vacation?
Though most cats will get along fine if they have a litter box, fresh food, and water, accidents do happen, and injuries or illnesses can develop quickly and threaten your cat's health if they go unnoticed.So having someone look after your cat while you're away is a good idea.most cats will get along fine if they have a litter box, fresh food and water, accidents can happen. Injuries or illnesses can creep up quickly and may threaten your cat's health if undetected. So, a plan to have someone watch over your cat while you're away is a good idea.
When you go on vacation, do your cats get anxious?
You may believe that your upcoming travel plans will have no effect on your cat, but separation anxiety is quite common in cats. Learn to recognize the signs of cat anxiety and use our tips to help your cat cope while you enjoy a well-deserved vacation.it's actually quite common for cats to get separation anxiety. Learn to recognize the signs of cat anxiety and follow our tips to help your cat cope while you're enjoying a well-deserved vacation.