Cat Upset You Went Away? How to Help Your Cat Adjust When You’re on Vacation
Jan 26 2023.
Going on vacation can be a stressful experience for both you and your kitty. Along with making your own travel plans, you’ll also need to book a trustworthy cat sitter to keep your cat happy and healthy while you’re away.
Your cat does miss you when you’re not around, so you’d expect Mr Whiskers to be extra excited when you return from a long trip, right? It can be disappointing to discover that your cat seems upset after you’ve been away on vacation. Actually, this behavior is completely normal! Below, Cat in a Flat dives into why Mr Whiskers seems standoffish and how to help your cat adjust before and after you go on vacation.
Does my cat miss me when I go away?
Our fur friends are creatures of habit and any change—whether it be moving home with your cat, or a simple trip to the vet—can be stressful for your kitty. While felines have the reputation of being solitary and independent creatures, the domestic cat’s long history of interacting with humans means they’re also quite social.
While a feline won’t miss their owner as much as a dog might, your cat can still struggle to adjust whenever you’re away. When you return, your kitty may meow and want to cuddle, or they might be standoffish and ignore you. In both cases, your cat is showing you that they missed you while you were on vacation!
How to help my cat adjust when I’m away
If your fur friend is the type of feline who follows you from the bathroom, to the bedroom, to everywhere in between, they may struggle with suddenly not having their favorite human around. Once you find the perfect cat sitter and stock up on Mr Whiskers’ preferred food, treats, and toys, here are a few other ways to help your kitty adjust before and after you go away on vacation.
How to help my cat adjust BEFORE I go on vacation
Your cat is most likely a very astute observer and picks up easily on your emotions. If you’re stressed, your feline will feel stressed too. Likewise, if you’re calm, Mr Whiskers will keep his cool too.
Preparing for a trip can be a big job. You need to pack, take care of extra chores, and perform multiple other tasks. Even so, in the weeks leading up to your trip you should try to maintain as normal a schedule as possible. Always feed your cat on the same schedule and set aside daily playtime. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to get out your suitcase. Set it out at least a week ahead of time so your cat can investigate it at their leisure.
Note: Are you worried about overall home maintenance while you’re away? Your cat sitter may be able to ease your mind! Many cat sitters are more than willing to perform other services—like watering your plants—while you’re away. Ask before you book to find out what additional tasks your cat sitter can do.
How to help my cat adjust WHILE I’m on vacation
Pet cams aren’t just a great way to check in on Mr Whiskers, they can also help keep your house secure while you’re away. If possible, place a few pet cams in strategic places around your home. This will help you to feel reassured that you can check in on your fur friend whenever you like. However, avoid talking to your kitty through the camera. While it can be comforting to hear your voice, this could also end up confusing your cat and causing them to wander around trying to find you.
Leave a few pieces of clothing or bedding with your scent around the home. One amazing fact about cats is that their sense of smell is 14 times better than that of humans! A piece of clothing with your scent can reassure and comfort your kitty and also help reduce separation anxiety while you’re gone.
Note: Part of a cat sitter’s job is to reassure owners with updates and photos of their kitties. Cat sitters, check with your cat client beforehand to find out if they enjoy daily updates (not all cat parents do!). Owners, it’s completely normal to want daily photos, so don’t be shy about requesting this service.
How to help my cat adjust AFTER I’m back from vacation
Whether traveling home by plane, train, or car, you’ll probably spend those hours imagining a happy reunion with your furry friend. However, don’t feel upset if your kitty doesn’t immediately run up to interact with you. If your cat is acting standoffish, don’t assume he or she hates you. They’re simply readjusting to this ‘new’ situation!
Give your cat space to process this change to their environment. Be affectionate, but avoid picking up your cat to try to comfort them. Give Mr Whiskers freedom to approach, sniff, and explore you—you’re probably carrying all kinds of weird smells and he wants to investigate! Be sure to get back into your regular routine as soon as possible, and spend time re-bonding with cuddles (on your kitty’s terms), treats, and playtime.
Note: After coming back from a trip, check in with your cat sitter to find out how your kitty behaved while you were away. Take note of any unusual behavior—like protest pissing—and keep this in mind for next time. Maybe your cat needs multiple daily visits from his sitter to feel comfortable when you’re on vacation. Or perhaps you need to take your fur friend for a quick vet visit to make sure everything is okay!
A disruption in routine can certainly be stressful for your kitty. Find out more about whether boarding your cat or hiring a cat sitter is the better option for your feline, and tips on how to be a pawsome parent to your furry companion!
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