The word “VACATION” has many implications. For us humans, it means fun, excitement, visiting with relatives and friends, seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new food, experiencing new cultures, etc. But to our cats? It means being boarded or staying at home with pet sitters. They might be worried or scared. We humans worry that our cats will be well taken care of, that they will eat, that they won’t hurt themselves or get sick, that they won’t get depressed or that some unforeseen disaster, like an earthquake or fire would happen in our absence.
However, I am very fortunate. I only had to board my cats, Charlie and Tigger, (they have both crossed over the bridge) once. In 2008, we were ordered to evacuate our home because a fire was raging nearby. I couldn’t get to my vet due to the fire. My friend, Laurel, was kind enough to make arrangements for Charlie and Tigger to be boarded at her vet. That was an unusual situation. Needless to say, it was very stressful for the cats and for me, their human. After three days, we were all able to return to a slightly sooty home. But we still had a home.
Cats do much better in their own home, in their own environment. I am very lucky. I have pet sitters that I trust in my home and to care for the Cat Authors. Some I pay and others I take out to lunch or dinner. Erika is a vet tech at Animal Specialty Group in Los Angeles. She is dependable, kind and knows how to medicate a cat if that is needed. My other friends have or have had cats of their own. They love cats and I know they will take care of my cats while I am away.
I type up detailed instructions for the pet sitters re the Cat Authors’ idiosyncrasies, feeding times, amount of food, special diets, medication, supplements, information re their veterinarian and how to reach me if there is a problem, concern or question. I get their carriers out of the cupboard in case the Cat Authors have to be removed from the house. I must admit that I particularly appreciate the messages that the pet sitters leave on my Voice Mail telling me that all is well. When my Charlie was so ill, I even signed paperwork giving authorization/permission to euthanize him if he got so ill that he was suffering. Fortunately, they didn't have to make that decision.
I found an educational, national, non-profit organization on the Internet called “National Association of Professional Pet Sitters” (NAPPS). According to their web: “Not all pet sitters are created equal, nor are they all professional. “ NAPPS provides pet sitters with education and resources, national networking among members, an Annual Conference, tools and a certification program. The NAPPS certified logo signifies NAPPS member companies that have successfully completed the NAPPS certification examination.
NAAPS also helps pet parents locate pet sitters via their Pet Sitter Locator tab. They provide tips on everything from hiring a pet sitter to pet health and safety. They have a 20 page downloadable document entitled “EMERGENCY PLANNING GUIDE FOR PET OWNERS.“ It covers just about any emergency imaginable from earthquakes, floods, fires, winter storms, tsunamis and hurricanes to volcanoes. I downloaded it and filed it for future reference.
Information for this article was obtained from the National Association of Pet Sitters website and my own experiences with the cats who have lived with me and taught me about life, including (and maybe especially) the Cat Authors.