Taking Your Cat Home for the Holidays

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The holidays are the busiest travel time of the year, as many people spend this special season with family or friends. Often, you’re a guest in someone else’s home. What should you do if you want to bring your feline friend home with you for the holidays?

First of all, you must ask your host about the possibility of taking on another boarder during your visit — especially when it’s a furry one — and explain you will take full responsibility for your pet’s care during the stay. Ask even if you’re going to your parents’ house or your brother’s. If they would prefer not to have a cat, respect their decision and hire a pet sitter to look after your kitty. If your cat is welcomed into the home as an additional guest, you should follow certain etiquette rules to ensure a stress-free visit for everyone.

A Room of Her Own
Once you arrive at your destination, should kitty be allowed to roam around this unfamiliar home at her leisure? Probably not. She’s going to be overwhelmed by the newness of her surroundings, and keeping her in just one room will help her feel safer and more secure. You can also more easily cat-proof a single room — no breakables on the shelves, etc. Be especially careful to keep your cat separate if your hosts have pets of their own. Two strange cats should not be just thrown together; that only invites trouble. Introducing cats successfully takes many weeks, so you can’t expect your cat will immediately get along with your hosts’ cat.

If your hosts do not have pets, they may not appreciate cat hair on the sofa or a kitty jumping on the counter to sample leftovers. Your cat may be a little upset about having a whole new house to investigate and, if the host and family are not accustomed to having a cat underfoot, your cat might accidentally escape or be harmed. So, there is nothing wrong with leaving kitty in your sleeping quarters . . . behind closed doors. In fact, she’ll probably be much safer there. Make lots of time to be with kitty then, so she doesn’t feel isolated. If your stay is an extended one, and there are no other cats in the house, you can let kitty explore the rest of the house under your careful supervision — with your host’s approval, of course.

Feline Routine
Cats love their routine, and taking kitty to someone else’s home is certainly going to cause a change in that routine. It’s crucial to keep things as normal as possible once you arrive in your guest accommodations. Bring all of your cat’s own necessities with you, such as her food, water, bowls, scratching post, and even a favorite blanket to sleep on.

Disposable litter boxes are much more convenient than buying a new one or dragging yours along. Bring along the same litter she uses at home, a scoop, and your own plastic bags for waste removal. Note that if your host has a cat, using their scoop for your cat’s box will introduce unfamiliar smells into your cat’s box AND that of your host’s cat — which could cause litter box problems both either felines. Something as insignificant as sharing a scoop could cause a cat to stop using the litter box altogether . . . and that would certainly put a strain on your holiday vacation!

Spending the holidays with your feline at a friend’s or relative’s house is possible as long as you realize it’s your responsibility to keep your cat safe, happy, and out of trouble. Finally, in between the flurry of holiday activities, remember to spend plenty of quality time with kitty because, in these unfamiliar surroundings, she will need your love and support even more. With a little care, everyone — friends, pets, and relatives — can have happy holidays under the same roof.

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