Summer Travels: Hire a Sitter or Travel With Your Cat - Pros and Cons
Planning to do a little traveling this summer? Us cat owners know that there’s some extra decision-making involved when trying to plan a trip. The big question is: should you take your feline friend with you, or is it best to leave them behind with a sitter?
Of course, part of making that decision depends on the type of trip you’re going on, but even more so, it should depend on what your cat prefers. It’s important to assess your cat’s personality when determining whether or not to pack their suitcase this summer. Every cat has a unique personality and reacts differently to traveling. When considering taking your cat on a trip with you, be sure to consider what will be most comfortable for them.
After assessing your cat’s personality, if you’re still weighing whether or not to hire a sitter or travel with your cat, a pros and cons list might be just what you need to help make that decision. Discover the pros and cons of traveling with your cat and keeping them home with a sitter below.
In-Home Cat Sitting
Allows your cat to stay in the environment they’re most comfortable in:
New can be scary for cats and humans alike. It’s no secret that cats prefer being in familiar places. Familiar environments can help cats feel calm and anxiety-free, especially environments that smell like them—there’s a reason, after all, they like to rub their scent onto every surface.
There are countless articles out there giving tips on how to reduce travel-related anxiety in cats, but the fact of the matter is, cats feel safer in environments they’re used to and may become stressed or anxious when suddenly introduced to an unfamiliar place.
Cats like routine—keeping them at home helps with that:
Keeping your cat in their home domain has the added bonus of allowing them to stay on schedule. Have you ever noticed that each night, at 4 am on the dot, your cat randomly decides to run up and down the halls, terrorizing any noise-making object in their way? Okay, this example may be purely anecdotal, but cats are not as random as they sometimes seem: they actually love keeping to their daily (and nightly) routines. In fact, most cats have routines they follow each day, and actually need to keep their routines consistent in order to stay healthy and happy.
It can help reduce stress for you:
Traveling is often stressful, and taking your fickle feline with you may only add to that. There’s a lot you have to plan for to ensure your cat stays safe and happy while on the go. Having to plan your trip’s schedule around their needs may disrupt your ability to do certain excursions or activities. Not to mention, just trying to get from point A to point B with your cat (who may or may not be enthused about the situation) can cause some tension. Knowing your cat is safe at home with a vetted professional can ease a lot of travel stress.
You’ll miss your cat:
Missing your cat is a given; however, if your cat is an anxious traveler who will flee at any chance, then it’s necessary to do what’s best for their safety and comfort. Missing them is a small price to pay to ensure their well-being. Plus, seeing daily pictures of your sweet fur baby from your cat sitter definitely helps with this.
You’re bringing someone you don’t know into your home:
If you opt for a cat sitter, it’s important to trust the person coming into your home. Because of this, you should always use a secure service that vets their cat sitters. At Meowtel, sitters go through a 6-step vetting process and reservations with them are fully insured to provide cat owners peace of mind. Of course, after finding your sitter, it’s always a good idea to get to know them ahead of time, so remember to book your meet and greet to make sure they’re the purrfect match for you and your cat(s).
Traveling With Your Cat:
Pet travel is much more commonly accepted now:
Most major airlines in the U.S. allow your cats to fly in-cabin with you, making planning a plane trip with your cat easier than before. Keep in mind, you will have to pay a fee upwards of $100 for your cat to fly with you. Likewise, if you’re the rare breed that travels by train in the U.S., Amtrak now allows cats on their trains for a fee, starting at $29.
As for hotels, most hotel chains in the U.S. are now cat-friendly, albeit with a fee and limited room options. Each hotel comes with its own unique set of policies regarding your cat’s visit, so be sure to research that information ahead of time.
You get to spend time with your cat:
This is perhaps the biggest plus; naturally, most people don’t like to be separated from their cats for very long. Having your cat with you, provided they’re up for it, can bring a lot of comfort and fun to your trip. Whether you’re going on a road trip through your state or a flight to see relatives across the country, your cat can help you make cherished memories along the way.
You may end up connecting with new people because of your cat:
Whether in-flight, standing in the hotel lobby, or exploring your destination’s cat-friendly trails, cats make great conversation pieces. Most cat owners love when people dote over their cat (I know I do), and who knows, you may end up making new friends during your travels because of it. What better way to start a friendship than bonding over your cat?
Travel policies and paperwork can be tricky for cat owners:
While many places are pet-friendly now, there’s still an extra amount of effort you have to put in to make sure your cat is welcome wherever you go. Between airline and accommodation policies, there’s a lot you have to figure out when traveling with your cat.
Unfortunately, it can be overwhelming to figure out all the requirements for bringing your cat with you. In fact, most people find airline rules to be overly confusing. Because of this, it’s really important to keep track of all the paperwork you need for your cat, both at the airport and at your hotel. Otherwise, you might risk being turned away upon arrival.
Some places still don’t accommodate cats:
Traveling with your cat may be a lot more common now, but keep in mind that not every transportation service or hotel will accept your cat. More importantly, not everywhere will provide a smooth, happy environment for your cat, even if they claim to be pet friendly.
Traveling can be very stressful for cats:
As we discussed above, cats like to stay in familiar environments. Traveling to new places can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for some cats. In general, cats prefer to be in their own domain, where things are familiar and smell like them. It can be overwhelming for some cats to experience all the new stimuli that comes with traveling, especially when cooped up and vulnerable in their carrier (and good carriers are a must when traveling). That’s why it’s really important to determine ahead of time whether your cat has the type of personality that can manage traveling.
If traveling with your anxious cat is necessary, you can check with your vet to find out whether medication is the right option to smooth the trip for your cat.
There are added health risks when traveling with your cat:
The stress caused by traveling could be detrimental to your cat’s health. The vets from CatHealth.com assert that any stress, especially when prolonged, can cause or contribute to several different medical issues.
Furthermore, just like traveling introduces you to new bacteria, your cat is also at risk of infection. Cats who are very young or old, or who have weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to getting sick when traveling. It’s always a good idea to consult your vet if you need to travel with your cat.
You know your cat the best; if every car ride with them results in a world of hissing, howling, and trying to break free—you might not want to travel with your cat. Alternatively, if your cat loves adventuring on a leash or riding in their carrier, then traveling with them this summer might be something they handle like a pro.
Overall, it’s best to limit the amount of traveling you do with your cat when you can. Constant environmental changes can be stressful for even the chillest of cats and could even result in making them sick. Hiring a trusted cat sitter can help keep stress levels low for both you and your furry friends.
Photo by: Valérie Ungerer on Unsplash