I like to say that cats are like children, in that they have a limited understanding of our world and fully depend on us for all their needs. When their routines change — for example, when you go out of town — they sometimes get a little stressed out.
At LoveCats, we’ve seen various forms and resulting behaviors of stress. Some munchkins get hairballs or throw up their food more frequently than usual. Some go on food strike, or the opposite: they eat as much as possible for fear the next food drop may be days away! We’ve seen furballs become less active, or more aggressive with other cats in the house or with us. And of course, there’s the “I’ll get you” attitude: poop or pee outside the box, or get a case of the runs (and yes, I mean diarrhea).
So, what can you do? Well, first be assured that LoveCats looks for these symptoms of stress during our visits. We’re careful to not be flippant; consistent unusual behaviors in your absence could simply be stress-related, or they could be a sign of a health issue. We take note of the actions and if the situation warrants it, we will call your vet to check in and get their thoughts.
And if we think it’s frustration over your taking a vacation without them, we’ll try to provide some distractions: extra water bowls in new places; turn on the radio or tv; move a piece of your clothing to a place they might catnap; open a blind or in warm weather, a window, so they can look outside.
These are all things you can do in advance, too. In addition, if possible while you’re away, don’t close off rooms to your cat. If you need to protect valuables, put them in a closet, or cover scratch-inducing items. Get a bird feeder (some LoveCats clients have ones that attach to windows) or set lights on timers to “surprise” the furball with new motion.
Another great idea is to have a friend, neighbor or family member pop in for a visit here and there (in addition, of course, to having LoveCats visit on a regular basis!). This person doesn’t have to interact with your cat (although it would be really good if they did!). His or her presence while watching tv, reading a book, or playing a game on their smartphone would soothe some of your kitty’s anxiety.
For more information about cat stress, try this article and these suggestions.