Off Topic: how do you travel & have a cat?

I recently adopted a cat from the Ontario SPCA, a beautiful one year old black domestic shorthair. Her name is Tonic (catatonic). She was a battered cat, but is getting along surprisingly well. As I do with most things in my life, I’m getting a little obsessed with her and caring for her (i.e., I’m being a crazy cat lady). I’m feeding her wet food and raw food, although I’m keeping her dinner as kibble so it’s easier to feed her when I’m travelling (super-crazy-expensive high-end kibble that costs more than my flights!).

Yes... those are Lufthansa First Class PJs ;)
Yes… those are Lufthansa First Class PJs 😉

This is my question: how do you travel and have a cat? As I see it, I have three options:

(1) leave her a bowl of water and kibble and hope things work out;

(2) pay someone to come by daily or every other day for $15/time; or

(3) have a friend come by once-in-awhile (I don’t feel comfortable asking someone to come by too often).

Although I’ve engaged in home-automation for her nightly feeding (the feeder automatically dispenses kibble for dinner), and her litter, I can’t ensure she has fresh water, or that there isn’t a malfunction with the automated tools. Thus, option (1) is out.

For $15, there’s a local service that comes by for 30 minutes to change the litter, food, and water, and will provide some companionship for Tonic. With adequate water and food, I’d feel comfortable with a visit every-other-day. For long trips, I’m thinking this makes the most sense. For a 10 day trip, it’s only costing $75, which really isn’t bad.

For short, weekend trips, I think having a friend pop by once makes the most sense. Obviously it’s free (less the cocktail I’ll owe them), but I wouldn’t ask them to provide companionship or change the litter. I’d just ask them to check on her, change her water and give her food.

I’ll be going on a trip to Vegas during Easter, which will be my first trip while having Tonic. Luckily it’s a short trip, but it will be a good test to see how she manages.

I’m jumping into this pet-ownership thing kind of blind. As a kid I had pets, however, they had a family to care for them, and parents to pay for their needs. Now that I’m liable for paying and caring for Tonic, I’m trying to learn a little more about what others do for their cats when they travel. So, crazy cat ladies, what do you do? Any suggestions or anecdotes?


  1. I leave my 2 cats for up to a week at a time. I have 2 automatic feeders, so the likelihood of a double failure is minuscule. I have an automatic water bowl – a reservoir that keeps the bowl full – lots of options on Amazon.

  2. We had the same dilemma after adopting a cat some years ago, and now we adopted a 2nd one almost two years ago.

    Depending on your cat, you may find she will get bored/needy and stressed if left alone for long periods. Especially if she’s been battered/abandoned, being left alone will cause a lot of negative associations to flare up.

    This may lead to bad behaviors such as scratching/excessive grooming (and returning home to see the cat has licked/scratched some body part raw) or clawed the carpet in frustration.

    I would definitely hire the pet sitter on a daily basis for the first few trips until you can be sure you cat can handle being alone fine.

    If you ask among neighbors or friends, you may find some teenager who would do the job for less (and spend more time with the cat) in lieu of access to the TV/wifi. That’s what we ended up doing.

    Good luck!

  3. Unfortunately travelling and cats are not always compatible. My travel time has increased exponentially since my kitty reached the end of her days. I used a cat sitter for a long time and for the most part I must say it worked well. I did get a nasty surprise with the first company I used – ithey had spent a long time interviewing me about my cat’s needs, making me think they were really concerned about her well being. But I came home from my trip a day early to a hungry cat and filthy litter box. So, make sure to get references from folks who have used the sitter.
    Another option, which I made use of when my cat was older, was a boarding facility in the country. The cat got tons of attention and constant monitoring. Worth it for an extended trip or for a cat who needs special care.

  4. I have a webcam with motion detection that emails me when the cats are eating from the food bowl. With that I’m comfortable with them just having a welfare check every 2 or 3 days.

  5. I have a cat sitter that comes every day to feed, clean the liter box,and add water to the pet fountain – which has a filter in it. The cost is 30$ a day so if you can get that for $15 its a great deal. The cat sitter sends me a photo every day when they come.

  6. I don’t have pets, but I love both cats and dogs and I am very happy to pet-sit for my friends when they travel. I don’t ask for reimbursement, as for me the chance to play with the animals is its own form of payment!

    In fact, next month I’ll be house-sitting as well. They’re going away for 3 weeks and I’ll water their plants, keep the cat and dog company and feed them daily.

  7. We feel really bad leaving our cat alone for more than one night. We pay a catsitter $15-40/1-2 visits daily. They clean the litter box, feed/water him, and spend a bit of time playing/petting him. It’s very expensive but necessary for our piece of mind. We just went away for 5 days and our cat definitely missed us. He’s not generally very affectionate, but when we come back, he’s all purrs and snuggles. So, the service is not as good as us being home and we feel really bad if we are gone more than 2 weeks at a time. If we are, we try to get friends to drop in a couple times in addition to the service.

  8. You could use housesitters. Depending upon how long your trip is, it might be the most economical. They are usually free. It also depends on if you are comfortable having strangers in your house but it would give your pet more companionship and you peace of mind.

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