Will my cats be OK while I'm gone?

Hi Pet moms and dads :slight_smile:

This will be my first time leaving my 2 young cats (1 yo and 3 yo) with a pet sitter, and it will be my first time leaving them for soooo long. I think I found a great sitter, but aside from that, I am worried about how my cats will process my absence. I’ll be gone for an entire MONTH! How will they know that I have not abandoned them? Will they still remember me, or will their resentment (or fear) block all memory of me. 2 years ago my older cat’s sister died and he missed her so much–he went into a deep depression. I am terrified that he will think that we also disappeared like his sister. So I am afraid that he won’t be able to understand why someone else is taking care of him. My younger cat will be fine lol. It’s the older one who is giving me so much worry. Do any of you have any advice about what I can do to reassure him (them) that we are coming back…to make them know we have not abandoned them? Have any of you experienced these feelings? What was it like when you returned? Please share your story. <3

Lastly, were any of you worried that your cat-sitter wasn’t going to care for them the way we do? Do you have any suggestions on what I could ask to help reassure me.

Thank you so much for your time and help!

Klara

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I can possibly give you some reassurance - as a long time cat owner, fosterer (almost 40 cats now) and a sitter.

  1. Cats are more attached to places than to people. Dog are the opposite. Your cats will notice that you are gone, but will quickly adapt assuming that the sitters take good care of them. once they realize that the new humans are providing the food, they should accept them!

  2. My cats have been fairly indifferent when I return from trips (up to 3 weeks), because I had great sitters stay in the house. Before THS, when I just had a paid petsitter come by once a day, they were very needy when I returned from traveling. I’m happy that they didn’t miss me with a sitter staying here.

  3. In the unlikely event that the cats are anxious in your absence, they will recover quickly when you return. Once of my cats overgroomed the first time I was gone for 3 weeks, even with friends staying in my house. He had small bald patches on his neck and legs, but the hair grew back and he was fine. Now that he is more accustomed to sitters, he doesn’t do that.

  4. Most sitters here are amazing. If you have done your research and are satisfied that your sitter is a cat-lover, you can relax. You can let the sitter know that you are nervous and that you will want frequent updates initially. I’m sure s/he will understand.

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What a relief. Thank you so much for that, Lassie!

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It can happen that a cat ignores the owner for a bit after they return, that is the worst case scenario that we have heard of. But if you are feeling anxious, you can also go on shorter “trial” trips beforehand. After having done 50+ sits with cats we can say, that we have never seen a cat become depressed or even seem unhappy / anxious during one of our sits. PS: It might help to be transparent about your feelings and let the sitters know what might help to ease your anxiety (we usually send pictures /updates at least 2 times a day, but standards seem to vary a lot).

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We had cats for many years, and traveled often. They were a bit clingy when we returned, but nothing more than that. We have truly enjoyed petsitting cats, since becoming members of THS. In addition to daily updates and photos, have you considered asking your sitter to video chat with you, and try (we know they have a mind of their own) to include your cats in the chat. They can hear your voice, and you can see they are well taken care of, and feeling secure with the sitter. As sitters, it’s always our goal to provide peace of mind for the owners, and a video chat should be an easy fix to allow you to enjoy your time away, knowing the cats are being well loved.

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Be sure to ask your sitters to send you regular pics and updates to reassure you that your cats are fine - in your case I would say daily. Remember that cat sitters are also cat lovers and the vast majority will give your pets the same care,love and affection that they get when you are home.
Enjoy your holiday with the knowledge that your pets are in very safe hands :heart:

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Since we have sitters staying at our house we have the feeling that our cats don’t even notice we were gone. My husband always calls them traitors when we get pictures of them cuddling with the sitters. Don’t worry.

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All very good answers and advice here. Some cats too can be a bit wary of the sitter for afew days, just because they are different & used to you.
Also something we used to do was to leave bits of our clothing around for the cats to smell us & sleep on. Bit of reassurance for them.

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Will definitely do this! Thanks so much! Did you find that this worked? It’s been on my mind to do it but wasn’t sure how effective it actually was. I’m also planning on getting feliway, a cat pheromone diffuser that calms cats and releases them on any anxiety. I know cats are attached to their homes more than their people, but our cats, especially our older one LOVESSSS us more than his home lol. We usually bring them when we go abroad but this time we can’t…. Hence why I’m being a nervous Nilly lol.

Thanks for your help!

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Thank you!!

Thank you! The video call doesn’t confuse them—like “wait I hear their voices, where are they? How come they aren’t letting me?” As a pet sitter, have you ever noticed cats being sad and not eating? Maybe im projecting human feelings, but I know that when my husband and kids leave and I stay behind, my older cat sinks into depression. He stays on his bed for days and only comes down to eat. Or he’ll just wait by the door. That’s why im so nervous about what he’ll “think” and feel when the entire family leaves. We have all left them for a few days at a time. With our neighbor feeding them and apparently that went well. But leaving for a month, I’m afraid I’ll cause them or at least the big one psychological damage :frowning:

Thanks for your help!

I’ve only noticed the cats take a day to approach me, but some come right away. I’ve not seen any that stopped eating. I don’t think a video chat would be confusing, or even a recording of your voice saying something that’s comforting to the cat, that can be played whenever to sitter feels the cat is withdrawn. I agree that leaving behind a blanket, or piece of clothing you’ve worn, maybe a soft cozy sweater, is also a good idea. Animals are creatures of habit—as long as your sitters keep to the same feeding schedule, your cat should accept their presence at some point. Perhaps google pet psychology and find solutions for a cat with depression caused by separation. There may be further solutions.

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Hi Kiki, yes we slways used to leave an odd item of our clothing, and we’ve noticed some HOs do this too. Yes the cats do tend to sleep on them, especially in the first few days.
The feliway diffuser is a really good idea too. We used for some cats, if they were abit depressed or anxious.
Im also all for video calls. I think they recognise your voice, a couple of our cats we’d leave a radio on a timer.

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Cats are very resilient and as someone said they’re fine when their surroundings don’t change. On our first trips (from 2 weeks to a month) we used a pet sitting service that came an hour a day. We had 3 than 2 cats at the time. We had cameras in the house and watched their routine through the videos they triggered when passing in front of a camera. They behaved basically the same as when we were home. They were very welcoming when we came back and wanted lots of attention for a few days and then they went back to their routine. On our last 2 trips (6 weeks and 2 weeks) we were worried as we have just one cat left (16 y/o) and we have been with her 24/7 since the start of the pandemic as we work from home. But we’ve had wonderful sitters for those 2 trips and after a few days staying in her closet safe space (coming out mostly at night) she started spending time with the sitters in the living room and before long lying next to them on the couch. When we came back from the 6 weeks trip she didn’t react to our arrival and when my wife took her in her arms (which she usually enjoys) she wanted to get back down. She needed a few days before she came back to sleep with us but got back to her routine. Our next trip will be 9 weeks but she will again enjoy the company of the same sitters which should help as she was immediately comfortable with them on our second trip.

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Another great way to release anxiety is cat/dog tv and the soothing music that comes with it. You´ll find hours and hours of cat tv on youtube. They love it. It keeps them not only relaxed but also stimulated.

Inviting the sitter a day or two prior to your departure can also do the magic, especially when the pet has separation anxiety

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Hi Klara, I fully understand your concerns :hugs:

I haven’t tried Feliway yet but thinking of maybe giving it a go for my young cat when we go away for 17 days (we’ve never left him for longer than 4 days for now, and he’s very attached to us). Video calls sound like a good idea too and I’ll definitely want to do that! Although when I am away and I call my partner who stayed home with the cat, the cat does not seem interested in the phone :sweat_smile:

When we went away, we left him some clothes we’d worn on his cat tree, and when we came back they were full of his hair so I think it helped him a bit, I can second that advice :slightly_smiling_face:

We’ve only been away for short periods of time for now but every time we came back, our cat was particularly affectionate and needy. Then after a few days he went back to his routine.

Best of luck to you! :slightly_smiling_face:

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I think after looking after over 20 cats now your cats will be fine. Some cats can be a little shy or nervous with new people but it’s amazing what a little patience, food, play and then petting does!
Also remember people are here because we are animal lovers. Your pets are super important to sitters.

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Music to my ears​:relaxed: Thank you!!:heartbeat:

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Thank you so much for that reassurance! :heartbeat:

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The first time we ever went away we had someone come in twice a day, and it’s fair to say our cat didn’t really enjoy the experience because he likes having people around to ‚talk‘ to. After that we started using live-in sitters and it’s been great. He’s a bit shy until he realises they’re opening the cans, from then on he‘s best friends with them. And he does turn his tail on us and sulk when we get back, but that only lasts a few minutes.
We always plug in a Feliway diffuser a few days before we go away too. It does seem to make a difference.
They‘ll be fine, don’t worry, enjoy your holiday!

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