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The best options for your cat if you're going on holiday

So you want to go on holiday, but you don’t know what to do with your cat. Should you take them with you? Should you leave them in a cattery or cat hotel, or with a friend or relative?

Many people confront this question when they go on holiday, but very few make sure that their answer is adequate. This can result in a stressed cat and caregiver and a disastrous holiday. Here’s what could happen in some of these scenarios.

Taking your cat with you to the place where you’re staying could be a good option, because that way they can stay with their family. However, it’s only a good idea if your cat can tolerate it. Some cats enjoy travelling and seeing new places, but not all do. Cats are highly territorial animals, and are more closely connected to spaces than they are to people. Consequently, taking them out of their environment tends to be very traumatic. Being separated from their home territory causes more suffering than being separated from their family.

This is what happens when you take your cat to a cattery or cat hotel, even though it seems like a place where they’ll be in good company. In this scenario, your cat will be surrounded by other cats who are equally stressed and separated from their own environments, and are now competing for the same territory. So it may not be a good idea to resort to this option, as tempting as it may seem (although, of course, some cats will adapt without a problem).

Bringing your cat to a friend or relative’s house can be a good idea as long as they can tolerate the change in environment—you must be sure that your cat can! If they can’t, the person who takes them in will spend the duration of the holiday looking after an animal that’s hiding all the time, marking their territory with urine and faeces or, in some cases, acting aggressively.

It’s best to avoid removing your cat from their territory. Instead, leave them in the house where they live, and ask a trusted friend to visit often enough to care for them (if possible, this person should be someone your cat already knows, to minimise stress). It’s usually sufficient to visit the cat every two or three days to make sure that they have enough food and water and a clean litter box. Your friend should also check that your cat is healthy, keep them company and play with them to keep them entertained. During your absence, it’s important to provide your cat with toys and an enriching environment, and the caregiver should change the toys when he or she goes to visit. If your cat is used to going outside, you must decide if you’ll let them continue to do so or restrict their outdoor access for safety reasons.

In the end, the most important thing is to know your cat and to look out for their comfort and safety. That way you can enjoy your holiday in peace, knowing that your furry friend is okay.