(Minneapolis, MN, USA)
Hi, Dr. Neely,
My boyfriend and I are going on a vacation to Mexico for three weeks. Our roommate will not be home during the vacation or I would leave her in his care.
My friend has offered to take my cat into her house for this time period.
I am curious if it would be more stressful to leave the cat at home and have someone come and feed her every day although they would not have the time to come and visit for a while, or if it would be more stressful to her (my cat) to have her live at my friend's house for this time period?
I would leave her litter box, her food bowls, and a pillow that smells like myself at my friends house for her. My friend would have more time to pay attention to her if she were to stay at the friend's house.
On the other hand, my friend has a male cat, and my cat is a female. Both animals have their reproductive units removed and are passive and fairly friendly.
My cat has lived with a male cat before so may not be surprised by the existence of another cat, although she currently is the queen of the house.
I am worried that everything may not go swimmingly as my cat has not been left without myself or my boyfriend for this long of a time.
I plan to take my cat over to my friend's place beforehand so that she knows the place and has a chance to meet my friend's cat before they are forced to be roommates. If this does not work out I will have to leave her alone and to have someone come to feed her daily.
Therefore, I am curious whether you would suggest that I leave the cat with a friend and her cat or whether I should leave the cat at home and ask someone to check on her daily.
I am worried that my cat will get very lonely if there is no one home as she has been very lonely in the past when there has been no one home for a day or two although she has enough food.
I am thinking about leaving my friend the key to my house so that if all does not go well, there is a plan B, where my cat can stay at home instead.
Which do you think is the better option? I really would not like to cause my cat any more stress than is going to come of this situation, but I would really like to enjoy my vacation as well.
Thank you very much for your advice,
Oh, Courtney, you pose a difficult question. None of the solutions are perfect, but that does not mean that you should not have a lovely vacation and that your cat will not be just fine when you return.
Research has shown that cats prefer their homes to their owners. Kind of hurtful to think about, but true. If a cat had to choose between moving to a new house with you or staying in the same house with a new owner, the cat supposedly would select staying in the same house.
Cats are very much creatures of habit. They are easily thrown off by a change in their environment.
The very best solution would be if you could find someone who would live at your home while you are away.
If that is not possible, then the other two options each have their advantages and disadvantages.
If your kitty stays in your home, she will be happy with the surroundings but yes will be a bit lonely and will not have the supervision that you would like.
If she stays with your friend, she will be in a strange place AND will be with a strange new creature! However, she could be supervised better than if she is at home alone. And have some company.
So ...again my first choice would be to find a house sitter who would live in your home while you are away.
My second choice would probably be to try visiting your friend a few times with your cat to see how things go with her other cat and her home.
Last on the list, I guess, would be to leave her alone for that length of time unless the person coming in can spend time petting her and playing with her and hanging out.
Good luck. I hope you can work something out that will be comfortable for you. I know how you feel. I have been in your situation before and it makes any loving pet parent nervous.