Tuesday, March 15, 2011

traveling without the crew

One of the worst parts about adoption companion animals is having to leave them if you go on a trip. Sometimes you can travel with a dog or cat in tow, but for us, we go by airplane often and it's safer not to bring them.

I worry a lot, but less when I have a capable person in charge. I am so lucky to have found some great people who love animals and I can be actually enjoy my trip. A few not-so-good things have happened while we were on trips and it really helps having the right person to help.

Since I'm about to leave all three of my critters and Chris is coming with me, I thought I would write up a little bit about how we cope with departing our loved ones.

Dog care
We found an amazing place that takes dogs kennel-free. They have rooms to stay in and a large open field to play in. This was very important to us because Sienna does NOT do well in kennels. In the past we had friends care for her but because of her likelyhood of being desctructive, and two trips where things went wrong, we feel better paying someone to care for her. She has special needs.

Now she is really used to where she goes and loves it. When we get there, she barely looks back to say goodbye!
Sienna at her home away from home

This trip will be Ellie's first time there. She doesnt' have the same issues with space as Sienna, and she might not mind a kennel because she loves to be in tight closed spaces at home (under the bed, desk, etc). But she needs her activity and will love the field. We hope since Sienna is there, she will adjust well.

When Zuki was not able to walk well, the vet took him for a medical boarding while Chris was away and I was unable to carry him. He had a lot of special needs and this was the best place for him. I trusted the other caretaker, but with other dogs there Zuki was at risk of being trampled a bit and it was just too much to for one person to do.

Before each trip, we fill out a card with any information that's changed and how much they get fed and any medications. We pack their food and Sienna's jacket. They already have the information on our vet and medical files.

Cat care
For cats, it's usually best for someone to come to the house, although for cats with medical needs, the vet may be able to do a boarding. There are also kennel-type places for cats for those who think that would work better for their cat. Try to find one that gives the cats time to stretch their legs outside of a pen if you choose that option.

We have always tried to find someone who can watch our cat who is local or a neighbor. It is ideal to have a neighbor who also had a cat (or two) and then we can swap cat care with them. Since we live in a pet-friendly triplex, we have been able to find someone to do this here and there.

When leaving the cat (or cats in the past), we always make sure to check to see if the house is safe. In the summer, we have to think about keeping the house cool enough but also secure so they can't escape. Secure plastic bags and cords cats could chew.

We also leave directions, even if we have gone over it with them. The directions include:
  • Food amounts and how often and what to feed
  • Water bowl location 
  • Litter box instructions
  • Cats favorite toys or ways to interact with them
  • Numbers for the vet, emergency numbers, and our numbers
It is a good idea for the cat sitter to come over briefly to see the cat and to see where things are kept. One time a cat sitter could not find the food and had to get more. These things happen! It's a good idea to have extra food around in case you get delayed on your trip. (Which also has happened.)

I don't suggest just an automatic feeder for anything longer than two days. Something could go wrong with it or your cat could be hurt. The water bowl could dip, etc. Someone needs to come by, even if briefly to see that all is ok.

My worry for this trip is that it's Foucault's first time all alone since now his cat sister Heather died. He doesn't care for other people as much as us, so he usually hides from cat sitters. I hope he gets a little braver and comes out a bit to play.

Hope this information was helpful. Do you have anything to add? Information on other critters that might have different needs, like mice or birds?


Vegan Flower said...

I love the pictures! <3 Emma often does the exact same pose that Sienna is doing. So cute!

We've never left Emma & Rowan anywhere, but have left the kitties quite a few times. One of my brothers in-law will house sit for us and care for the cats while we're away, which is nice. I also have a friend that will stop by if I want her to, just to spend some time with them. Even though they usually know everything already, we still have them over before we leave just to go over things with them. I also leave a list for them, just like yours.

I hope you have a great trip!

Two Pitties in the City said...

This is the hardest thing for us, and it's especially expensive to board 2 dogs in Chicago. We've tried a couple of options, sometimes even separating the dogs, but I have to say we do worry alot. Yours sound well taken care of.

Kate said...

When our kitty Sid was little and needed to sleep close to us, we had his cat sitter stay over at our place. It was a win for her as she could get away from her roommates and get some personal space and a win for Sid who had someone to snuggle with at 3am:)

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking said...

Thank you for an insightful and useful post. The web is a better place with you writing!

Pet sitting Mckinney