Vacationing and Cat Separation Anxiety

Woman kissing an orange cat

Vacations are intended to be enjoyable for people, but because of the disruption in routine, they may, regrettably, be stressful for cats and lead to behavioral issues and separation anxiety. Cat behavior issues might happen when the owner is away, while the cat is being moved, or after the owner gets home. Most cats do better when they stay in their own home with a pet sitter rather than traveling, staying in hotels, or being housed in kennels. Of course, this isn't always feasible, but happily there are some things you can do to decrease your cat's stress and the possibility of behavioral issues while you're away.

Changes in Your Cat’s Environment

Cats love regularity and thrive on it to the point where any change may perhaps make them anxious. Many things change for cats when their owners go on vacation, including the absence of their owners, altered food schedules, less attention, new persons, and perhaps new habitats if they are boarded.

Your cat may need five days to two weeks, or even more, to become used to and accept a new schedule. Just think about how long it takes some cats to acclimate to a new home or to accept into their homes. These two scenarios show how potentially rigid cats may be. Your cat experiences stress when a stranger, such a pet sitter, deviates from the norm. When you return from vacation after your cat has had time to get adjusted to the new routine with the pet sitter. Your cat can't refresh its cheek-rub marks while you've been away, so you no longer smell recognizable to them. Because of this, some cats hide, get defensive, or engage in undesirable behaviors.

Urinating Outside the Box

When there is a change in the family, improper elimination, notably urinating outside the litter box, is one of the most prevalent behavior issues that cats exhibit. Cats may display aggressive behavior or show signs of dread when among unfamiliar people, such as pet sitters or boarding facilities. In an effort to communicate their feelings of stress or fear, kittens may urinate outside of their as a result of these emotions. Cats enjoy the fragrance of their own bodies, therefore by spreading their scent onto objects that smell like their owners, the urine marking also serves to relax them. It is frustrating for individuals to deal with and clean up urine since it is difficult to get it out of things like furniture, carpets, and mattresses.

Excessive Scratching in Cats

Cats who are agitated or anxious may begin scratching objects more in addition to peeing inappropriately. In order to preserve the health of their claws and to mark their territory, animals naturally scratch. But in times of stress for your cat, this habit could worsen and become a problem.

https://www.thesprucepets.com/thmb/Ub5nuS24AsTMZyVVeBdEFcTFRpo=/4368x2912/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/tabby-cat-scratching-a-chair-157334657-5c17365346e0fb0001cae0fc.jpg

Hiding Behavior in Cats

Cats are typically terrified of new things, and if they are, they will hide. Your cat may hide from the pet sitter, while being boarded, or even when you go home since it is afraid of the circumstance.

Attacking Behavior in Cats

A cat that is anxious or terrified may react violently or defensively. Extreme tension in cats that are in unfamiliar circumstances or environments can sometimes be observed in their behavior. Indicators of fear and tension in cats include swatting, hissing, lunging, and biting.

https://www.thesprucepets.com/thmb/vFatEuQl35LMCDyxoTFXaU5RzaQ=/3582x2388/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/aggressive-kitten-855025366-5c1736eec9e77c0001223ac7.jpg

Vacation and Decreasing Stress in Cats

There are several things cat owners can in preparation for a vacation that will make the time easier on their cat:

  • If your cat is staying home while you go on vacation, ask the pet sitter to meet them as many times as possible, well in advance of your absence. The pet sitter should offer your cat their favorite treats or play with them and their favorite . This will help your cat associate the pet sitter with something positive and pleasant. If your cat wants to run off, let them. Do not confine them to force a meet and greet.
  • Bring out your suitcase at least a week in advance so that your cat gets used to it. Toss in treats or toys, so it's a positive association for the cat whenever they see your luggage. This also goes for your cat carrier if you need to transport your cat.
  • Write down your daily routine and ask the pet sitter to follow it. Meals, playtime, grooming, lap-sitting interactions, and other important benchmarks should be followed as closely as possible in order to minimize stress for your cat. If you know the routine will change while you are gone, implement some of these changes several days before your departure, so the cat has already begun the transition without the further stress of your absence.
  • Leave behind a scented item, such as a t-shirt that you’ve worn but not washed, for your cat. Leaving this in the cat's bed can help your cat feel comforted. Some cats also appreciate your recorded voice/message to be played while you're gone but others become upset, so test this before you leave to see how they respond.
  • Before you depart, have each member of the family that your cat loves choose a pair of socks from their wardrobe. Rub the socks all over the cat and seal each pair in a separate plastic baggy. When you return from vacation, slip on the cat-scented socks so that you once again carry the cat's signature identification that "you are family."
  • If you will be boarding your cat, be sure to bring some of their favorite toys or treats and items that smell like you along with them to the facility. Try to have the facility adhere to your normal feeding schedule and play times if they offer them. Tell the staff about what your cat likes to do or where they like to be pet and if you have to transport your cat, be sure to do so in a carrier covered with a towel. Keep them calm in the car by playing soft music and stabilizing the carrier with a seat belt or on the floor of the vehicle. You can also put some treats or favorite food in the carrier.
  • Medications, nutritional supplements, and pheromones are also considerations for cats with stress and anxiety. Many of these items should be started before leaving for vacation and can be very helpful.
https://www.thesprucepets.com/thmb/WP9-fFHhHMDMsNUxRp3fsqoJnPs=/4972x3515/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/please-don-t-go--136936600-5c17379946e0fb0001cb234d.jpg

CITATION

"Amat M, Camps T, Manteca X. Stress in Owned Cats: Behavioural Changes and Welfare Implications. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 18,8,577-86, 2016, doi:10.1177/1098612X15590867", "de Souza Machado, Daiana, Oliveira, Paula Mazza Barbosa, Machado, Juliana Clemente, Ceballos, Maria Camila, Sant'Anna, Aline Cristina. Identification of Separation-Related Problems in Domestic Cats: A Questionnaire Survey. PLOS One, 15,4,e0230999, 2020, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230999" ;

LEAVE A COMMENT