Help reduce anxiety in cats when you're away from home

Kelly Jones

Pete The Vet with his pet terrier Kiko!

Many people worry about how their feline friends will cope when human companions go away on holiday. Cats can be sensitive creatures.

Of course, one big stress is immediately removed when you decide to leave a cat in their own home: cats are strongly bonded to places. If they can use her own food and water bowl, sleep in their own bed, and stroll around their usual haunts, life is likely to be much less stressful generally compared to being placed in a boarding cattery. You'll explain the daily routine to your house sitters, so they will know preferences for feeding, drinking and attention. But is there anything else you can do to make cats feel more relaxed and comfortable in your absence?

Cat's love snuggly places

It's worth casting your eye around your home well in advance of holiday time. Look at your house from a cat's perspective and see if you can make it more "cat friendly". Cats like to have snug hidey holes where they can lurk unseen, such as cupboards, corners and recesses. They also enjoy being up high sometimes, so if you can provide cat resting areas above human eye level, many cats like to sit up there, surveying their domain. Remember to provide easy access, perhaps by a series of steps over furniture.

Create the cosiest sleeping place imaginable. Use a plug-in heated bed to make it as snug as possible, and line it with soft bedding, such as artificial sheepskin (e.g. Vetbed). Add to this by leaving some of your own unwashed clothes such as sweaters and t-shirts so that your has a sense that you are not too far away.

Leave an unwashed item of clothing in their bed so that your cat has a sense that you are not too far away.

Leave out plenty of litter trays, if your cats use them: remember the rule of thumb, which is one litter tray per cat, plus one extra. And provide plenty of food and water bowls: cats don't always enjoy sharing with others, so provide each with their own. Remember to place the food bowl some distance away from the water bowl: cats prefer to drink water away from the food supply.

By the way, a cat fountain, with flowing water, provides a drinking supply that many cats prefer: they can play with the water as well as just sipping it.

Plug-in vaporisers can be used to maximise a sense of calm

Finally, you can use the mysterious world of scents and pheromones to ease feline stress. Plug-in vaporisers can be placed near a cat's favourite bed. The Pet Remedy Valerian-based diffuser or the Feliway pheromone diffuser can both be installed to maximise a sense of calm in your cat's favourite area.

Your absence doesn't need to mean that your cat feels over-stressed: with a little advance planning, you can ensure that they remain almost as contented and relaxed as if you were caring for them yourself. Following the above simple task will help reduce anxiety in cats.

Many thanks to Pete The Vet (Pete Wedderburn), the vet columnist for The Daily Telegraph and frequent guest on Irish TV as an animal expert, for providing this insight. If you'd like to know more about Pete The Vet please visit his website

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