Cats are often stereotyped as “independent” and some people adopt cats because “they can take care of themselves.” This just isn’t true. They depend on us to for food, shelter, medical care and love.
Oftentimes, people will say that they are going on vacation and leaving their cat(s) at home with “plenty of food and water.” The truth is, cat owners have no idea how their cat(s) behave and/or how they feel while they’re away. Many cats have deep attachments to their humans and will become depressed or stressed when the owner’s schedule changes. Whether an owner’s absence is just for a day – or an extended period of time – the cat is sure to notice.
Binge Eating & Stress
One owner who went on vacation for a week proudly exclaimed that she got home “just in time” as her cat had just finished the food that she left out for him. Unfortunately, her cat may have finished the food three days ago. Some cats have been known to binge eat when they’re stressed. So leaving 7 days worth of food may ultimately be consumed in a day or two. And if that happens, the cat will go hungry for days and the owner would never know.
The best solution is to have a pet sitter or trusted person stop by the home at least daily to make sure the cat(s) have plenty of food and fresh water. A petsitter will also ensure that the cats’ litter boxes are clean. Cats that are left to contend with dirty litter boxes may decide to go somewhere else in the house that is cleaner than their litter box (the floor, the plant, your favorite rug, etc).
So how much food should I leave out?
The answer is, cat owners shouldn’t leave their cat alone for an extended period of time (more than a day) unless the owner knows definitively that their cat isn’t going to get stressed and eat all of their food in one day. If leaving multiple cats, it’s all the more reason to have a pet sitter or trusted and reliable person stop by every day to check on the cats.
What about automatic feeders?
If for whatever reason it isn’t possible to have someone stop by daily, definitely invest in automatic feeders and a water fountain. Note that if there are multiple cats in the house, the same issues may arise with one cat eating all of the food and the others not getting their share.
Ultimately, having a pet sitter or trusted person stop over is the best way to ensure that kitty has fresh food and water each day. It also provides peace of mind that should your curious cat get into any trouble or become sick while you’re away, they will have an advocate that can speak for them if they need help.
What do you do when you go on vacation or need to take a trip? Sound off in the comments or on social media.