Above are my two furbabies, Gus and Playbill respectively, sitting in my carry-on suitcase that I took down from one of my closets recently to start packing for Israel.
In case you’ve forgotten, I am heading to Israel on a Birthright trip just two months before I age out of the newly expanded max age for eligibility – 32. I’m excited but also kinda nervous because I haven’t done any group touring in ten years.
But that’s not what this blog is about. It’s about combating the guilt you may feel while you’re off traveling, what you can do to combat that, and how I make sure my furkids are cared for while I’m seeing the world. If you were hoping for a blog about how to travel with your cats, I’m sorry to disappoint, but most – not all but most – HATE leaving the comfort of their warm beds and would claw your eyes out if they had to get on an airplane for any reason other than a cross country move (and some would still not be pleased and insist on walking, thankyouverymuch). There are some cats that are excellent travelers, but mine are not.
Anywho: When I travel, I know I always have to have top-notch care lined up for the furkids. Gus has asthma and gets an inhaler once a day, so leaving them alone with a bowl of hard food is not an option (yes, they totally make inhalers for cats and they’re called Aerocats).
Family: Luckily, my parents live not too far from New York City and my mother always loves to come and catsit (she calls it catsitting her grandkitties because she knows she won’t have human grandkids from me – sorry, mom!) and hang out in New York. So, that’s usually three or four days, which is amazing.
Cat (or dog) Sitters: I have a couple of friends who have side hustles pet sitting so they know my furkids well and they’re very affordably priced (probably because I’m their friend) so they usually will stay for a few days each.
Pro-tip: If you live in a majorly awesome city (like New York City, for example), it’s probably always worth hitting up your Facebook or Instagram community to see if you have any friends who need a vacation to your city and in return for cat (or dog) care, they can stay in your lovely apartment for free, thus saving them hundreds of dollars on accommodations. You’re welcome in advance.
Professional Cat (or dog) Sitters: When I needed to find someone to feed my furkids over Christmas last year, I was pointed in the direction of a network of animal sitters called Riverside Barks (a sister company of Prospect Bark) – named for Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, obviously. They are awesome and also affordably priced. I’ve only had to use them over the holidays but I know I could call them anytime if I needed them. So, if you’re having trouble finding friends or family who can petsit for you, ask your fellow pet-having friends for a recommendation, or Google companies online (though make sure to read the reviews thoroughly!).
Your Neighbors: I really hated asking neighbors in my last apartment to come and feed my cats, but now I live in an apartment (on the opposite side of the building) that’s closer to my neighbors that I like to call The Cat Ladies. We all have cats and we all used to take turns feeding the colony of fertal cats behind our building until the final one passed last year. They know my furkids and my furkids know them and it couldn’t be more convenient. One of my neighbors is literally up the stairs that are directly next to my doorway. If you have neighbors who you know, ask them!
The guilt and stress? I often feel a lot of guilt, and sometimes stress a lot when I’m going away traveling. I love my furkids to pieces but I still want to see the world, and let’s be honest: They probably appreciate the downtime from my constant hugs and kisses. I make sure their favorite food is stocked, as well as Gus’ favorite treats (Playbill doesn’t like treats – I know! I don’t know why not), ensure Gus’ inhaler is functional, and sometimes I buy them a couple of special cans of food and a few little toys.
I don’t know how the passage of time feels for them, but since I know they sleep 16 hours a day, and they’re in their home, being fed, pet, and played with by caregivers they know, I try to not waste so much time feeling guilty. I’ve rescued both of these nuggets and they have a lovely, carefree life, which continues to be lovely and carefree even if I’m gone for a week and a half a couple of times away.
That’s what I think you should remind yourself of whenever you’re feel stressed, too. They’re happy and warm and fed.
And they’re probably sleeping.
So enjoy your travels while you can.