Holidays are a delight for us but for our pets staying at home or boarding in kennels this can be one of the most stressful times of the year.
Many pets, and particularly cats, find the inexplicable, extended absence of their owners or the arrival of strange house sitters, traumatic. Creatures of habit, pets and especially cats, don’t like change.
Cat owners commonly report their cat inexplicably urinating on their luggage while they’re packing to go away, or on the house sitter’s belongings. This is a sure sign of stress.
Other common symptoms of stress include withdrawal or hiding away, changes in relationships with other family members and changes in appetite or feeding habits.
Easing stress levels
- Bring out your suitcase a few days before you start packing and throw in toys or a treat to make it a positive association.
- If your pet is going into kennels, bring out their carrier a few days prior to departure and make it comfy with a favourite blanket or throw in a toy or treat so that it becomes a familiar environment that is not frightening.
- Try to introduce your pet sitters to your pets before your departure. Ideally ask them to visit a few times before you leave, to play with the cat or walk the dog and share a few treats. This should help ease separation anxiety.
- Pets feel safest with routine. Write down your pet’s routine, including feeding times, grooming, walking, playtime and any other activities and rehearse this with your pet sitter.
- Leave an unwashed worn item of clothing in a place that your pet regularly frequents. Your scent may be comforting in your absence.
There is a very real chance that your pet may stray while you are away. Your best hope of being reunited with a lost pet is to micro-chipping. This is a simple, painless procedure performed at your vet or by some animal welfare organisations.
Alternatively, ensure that your pet carries a collar with a tag. EberVet Vetshops have a wide range of colourful tags that can be personalised with owners’ details in minutes in-store.
Leave the contact details and address of your vet, a list of your pet’s medical conditions (should they have any) and your pet’s veterinary certificate with the house sitter.
If you are booking your pet into a kennel, most require a vaccination certificate indicating that your pet is up to date with its vaccinations, including kennel cough for dogs.
Please take care of your pets this festive season: a pet is for a life; a holiday is for a couple of weeks.