Q: I have a 2-year-old cat (De-De) that gets spooked easily. A sudden noise or someone coming in the house and he goes running. When we go on trips I leave him home alone. We have another cat that we put in a pet spa for the time we are gone so De-De is left with no company. I have someone come in once a day to feed him and clean his litter box, but they never see De-De due to his hiding. When we get home De-De meows and meows and goes crazy for a couple of days.
We don’t take him to the spa since he spooks so easily and the kitty section is near the entrance. Would it be better to keep him at home in his comfortable surroundings or take him to the spa?
The one problem is he is devoted to me so much he sleeps right up next to me and when I sit down he is on my lap.
No matter what I do he is not going to be happy but I want to do what is the least damaging to him.
— N. J., Doylestown
A: I think many of us find it stressful to find the best solution for pet care when we go out of town. I commend you for thinking about De-De’s personality and regular home habits as you make your plans. It sounds to me like you are right on the money with having someone come into the house for him.
Cats that are very shy around new people and places can be pretty traumatized by a drastic change such as being taken out of their usual environment and away from their people.
We would see it often at the shelter when cats were left behind — it can take them a long time to readjust and they can make themselves seriously ill with the stress of the change.
De-De will no doubt be missing you, and I’m sure you’ll hear all about it when you get home, but I bet keeping him around all his normal sights and smells would be more comforting to him.
On the other hand, and maybe this is the case for your other kitty, for some pets being alone with no people or other animals to interact with would be more stressful. For some dogs and cats, getting to go to a pet spa or day care is a vacation.
There is no one perfect answer for all pets on the best way to handle going out of town, because just like us, they are individuals with their own preferences.
The best advice I can give is to think about what makes your pet happy and then go with your gut about which option suits him or her the closest.
If you aren’t sure, consider a trial run at a pet spa while you are still in town to see how your pet reacts —just like kids, they will sometimes surprise you. Your “shy guy” at home might transform into a social butterfly in a different environment.
— Meg Geldhof, DVM, PetFix Northeast Ohio, Euclid; mobile spay and neuter clinic
Please send questions about your pet to Kathy Antoniotti at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; or email email@example.com. Please include your full name and address and a daytime phone number where you can be reached. Questions will be forwarded to an expert best suited to address your pet issue. Phoned-in messages will not be taken.