Caring for your pet while away

By Trisha Gurley

OK, I admit it. I’ve never been a fan of summer. Hot weather renders me a sluggish, cranky mess with half-frizzy/half-limp hair. My chalky skin and the sun don’t play nice, so leisurely sunning is not a relaxing option. Had I the option, I’d remain indoors until October.

Thankfully, there are modern inventions like resorts, indoor pools, and beach umbrellas. And sometimes one has to risk discomfort for adventure. Hence, I have no excuse for not going on a vacation this summer. Nevertheless, my cat Milton will be staying home where he’ll have a much better time. As much as I wish I could travel with him, he doesn’t handle car rides well (he expresses his displeasure at both ends), and the companionship of a furry travel partner would not be worth upsetting the little guy.

I personally think pets should be accepted everywhere, as any guest would. But many hotels have a no-pet policy, or you may have a pet like mine who doesn’t enjoy. In this case, you can take steps to make sure your fur baby has an easy time of it on their staycation.

1. If possible, choose a familiar face to pet sit. You’d be frightened if you were home alone and a stranger walked in, even if said stranger was there to help, and pets are no different. Do you have an extended family member, neighbor, or friend that your pet recognizes (and recognizes your pet’s habits and quirks)? If you’re using a professional pet sitter, try to have at least one meeting ahead of time for both of you to get familiar with the other.

2. Just like kids, pets need routine and stability. Make sure your pet sitter knows when your pet is walked and when she is to be fed and how much. If your pet eats dry food, you could pre-measure portions and put each portion in its own container or baggie. This makes it much easier for your sitter! You also may wish to invest in a pet water cooler, which keeps a steady flow of fresh, cool water for days.

3. Make sure your pet has comfortable sleeping arrangements. If your pet sleeps on your bed, you may want to leave the bed a bit undone, or place an unwashed t-shirt or clothing on it (or near a pet bed, if that’s what your pet uses). It can be very comforting for a pet to snuggle up to something familiarly scented.

4. Be on the alert for any signs of anxiety in your pet before your trip. My cat simply rubs his chin on the luggage we drag out, but my childhood dog would see suitcases and get nervous. She knew a suitcase meant we’d be leaving. Be sure to give them a bit of extra attention in the days before you leave. Take time to comfort your pet and assure them you’ll return. As hokey as this might sound, you never know what animals are processing and understanding. If anything, the petting and talking will soothe them.

5. It may sound obvious, but people commonly forget to leave a pet sitter with vital information such as their vet’s name and number. Your sitter needs to know exactly where to take your pet in an emergency. If your pet has a carrier, be sure the sitter knows where it’s located.

6. Many people leave cats home alone with extra food and water for short trips, since a cat doesn’t need to be let out or walked like a dog. You know your cat. Will they be fine on their own for a few days, or will they get agitated or afraid? Are they scared of storms or certain noises? Leaving my Milton alone is not an option since he needs an insulin shot every 12 hours, but even if that weren’t the case, I’d feel better knowing someone is checking in to make sure he’s OK. If your cat is fine with being left alone, it’s still not a bad idea to have a friend or neighbor pop in once or twice.
Have fun on vacation, and don’t forget to bring something back for your furry friend!

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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