Many frequent travelers who want to have pets opt for cats over dogs, thinking that these animals are like dogs without the work. While it’s not impossible to have a cat and be a frequent traveler, there are some unique challenges (apart from considering a dog) that present themselves and that you need to consider.
1. They Can’t Come With You
Every time you travel your cats will be at home waiting for you. You won’t be able to take them with you, even on moderately short road trips. Cats are territorial animals and don’t travel well or adapt to new surroundings as easily as dogs. If you’re a frequent traveler considering a cat you need to expect that whenever you’re not home, someone else will have to be, to take care of your animals.
2. The Cats Will Protest When You Leave
Cats themselves don’t like to travel but they also don’t like it when you travel. I’ve known a number of cats, including some of my own, that have thrown up, pooped, and clawed their frustrations out on a house – even when with a pet sitter living with them. You can reduce these anxiety-driven acts but never completely eliminate them.
3. Consider A Pair
Since I’ve been talking about the difficulties of having a cat you might be wondering why on Earth I’m recommending getting two cats if you’re a frequent traveler. The reason is that you’ll be doing yourself and your cats a favor every time you leave. Cats who live in groups of two or more are much less likely to damage the house or leave poop presents, which are really signs of frustration, boredom, confusion, and loneliness.
4. A Few Days and They’ll Be OK
The one good thing about cats over dogs as pets for travelers is that in most cases they can be left home alone for a few days. (Beware of #2 above.) You will need to get a pet fountain that filters water and a quality auto feeder with timer to dispense food at regular intervals when you’re traveling and an extra litter box or two might help your feline friends last for several days without you. (Single cats 1-2 days, multiple cats 3-4.)
You Have Misconceptions
Most people who don’t have experience with cats are loaded with misconceptions about them. Frequent travelers who aren’t familiar with the amount of work a cat takes can easily be stuck in a situation where they get in over their heads and have to give their cats up. Avoid putting an animal in this situation by taking into account the following misconceptions you may have.
- Cats don’t care if they’re alone – Not true! While many cats want less attention from you and others will follow you on walks around the neighborhood all domesticated cats are social animals.
- Cats don’t need exercise – It’s easy to assume that since they sleep up 13-17 hours a day (dogs sleep around 14) but your cat needs to release energy. People don’t usually notice since cats generally get hyper late at night when we’re sleeping. You’ll need to get a number of cat toys (or another cat) to keep them occupied and behaved while you are away.
- Cats are “easy” – Any kind of pet is work…and lots of it. Be prepared for more travel planning, a tighter simple travel budget, and possibly shorter trips.
In many ways having a dog is easier than a cat for most frequent travelers. Cats generally make better pets for vacationers and short business travelers rather than road trippers and long term travelers. It’s important not to get sucked into the thinking that cats don’t need as much attention or work as dogs and consider the responsibilities, especially if you travel frequently.
Next week I’ll discuss some of the tricks to traveling for cat owners to make your trips easier on you and your feline pets.