Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I would like a little kitty perspective on a situation. My sweet pudders, Sasha, is 15 and a very loving kitty. She recently moved with me to New York City when I got married and now lives part time in an apartment in Manhattan. I have to work in Miami two weeks a month and in NYC two weeks a month. When I am in NYC I work from home so she gets to see me and play with me whenever she wants. When I am in Miami my husband plays with her when he can and gives her lots of petting and love, but he often has to work very long days and travels a few days a week, so she is alone a lot for two weeks a month. We take her to our house in the country (2 acres of land filled with birdies and moths and chipmunks to chase and a big house to run around in) every 2-3 weeks for a couple of days, and she gets to go to Miami with me every 6 months or so and gets to play in her house and yard there. But I really worry about the time she is alone in the apartment in NYC – I am afraid she is bored and will get depressed being alone so much. Can you kitties recommend something my husband and I can do to make her time alone a little more interesting for her? … She has recently been diagnosed with renal insufficiency so we want to keep her as active as possible. Any advice you kitties can offer on how we can keep her entertained and engaged while she is alone would be wonderful and greatly appreciated!
Siouxsie: We strongly recommend that you hire a pet sitter to take care of Sasha while your husband is away. Particularly now that she’s been diagnosed with kidney disease, it’s crucial that she’s not left alone for long periods of time.
Thomas: A good pet sitter will visit with your cat a couple of times a day and spend a good hour with her, playing with her and giving her affection. The pet sitter will also feed her, give her fresh water, check on her health, and clean her litter box.
Dahlia: Pet sitters also keep track of your cat’s health and can generally administer any medications Sasha needs. This is particularly important if she gets to the point in her kidney disease where she needs to have subcutaneous fluids administered.
Siouxsie: In a place like New York, there are lots of pet sitters and pet sitting services to choose from. We suggest that you get recommendations for a sitter from your veterinarian or from friends who have used a sitter’s services before.
Thomas: Pet sitters offer a variety of services that can range widely in price. Many pet sitters are trained in animal first aid — the Red Cross actually offers an animal first-aid course, and you may find it helpful to take that course yourself — and are bonded and insured.
Dahlia: If you have a sitter visit Sasha a couple of times a day while your husband is away, we’re sure your peace of mind will be well worth the money you’ll pay.
Siouxsie: A trusted friend or neighbor could be a good caretaker if Sasha were fully healthy. But because of her illness, you really should hire someone who specializes in working with cats, is able to get her to the vet if she has a health crisis, and can handle giving medications or other specialized services.
Thomas: We have a great neighbor who has taken care of us a couple of times when Mama’s gone away. But Mama says that if one of us was sick, she’d be sure to hire a pet sitter instead of putting the burden of responsibility for a sick cat’s care on her neighbor.
Dahlia: Last year we interviewed a cat sitter, who talked about what cat sitters do, how to find a good cat sitter, and how to help your sitter take the best possible care of your cat. We think this column would help you.
Siouxsie: You could board Sasha at a cattery or at your vet’s office, but we think boarding could be quite stressful for her. Boarding also tends to be quite a bit more expensive than hiring a cat sitter. On the other hand, people who work at boarding facilities and your vet’s office are trained to detect illness and how to give medications or fluids.
Thomas: As long as Sasha doesn’t get any sicker, we think she’ll be all right if your husband works long days as long as he’s home every night. But don’t leave her alone overnight.
Dahlia: We hope this helps, and we hope you find a wonderful cat sitter to play with and take care of your wonderful, special cat.
If Sasha likes other cats, you may consider adopting a second senior cat to keep her company throughout the day. I have three cats and am away fairly frequently and while I do hire a cat sitter, I also know that they have eachother so they won’t get lonely.
A second cat could backfire and requires long term supervision for the cats to get acclimated. Not all cats will make friends no matter how long they live together. Perhapse you have a cat loving friend who would enjoy a part time kitty? Leaving her in a “second home” would be a good option as long as she was the only cat. Cats like routine and familiar places. She might even look forward to her second residence. Outdoor cats have been know to adopt a second family and double dip on the food and petties. Leaving a cat home alone for 2 weeks in NOT a good idea.
Hi! Boy, you all sure have good advice. Such smart kitties!
I’m adding you to my blog list, so I’ll be back for sure! :)
I agree that getting another cat could go horribly wrong. They may get along but there is no guarantee that they will and you could just end up with an even bigger problem.
I think the best suggestion was the one about having her stay part time with another family – then she would have a nice environment and company plus you wouldn’t have the worry of wondering whether your cat sitter was trustworthy. You have quite a dilemma on your hands – hope you find a good solution.
One important thing I didn’t see mentioned here is that cats are intensely territorial and hate location changes. Of course, there are always those few exceptions, but in general a cat would rather stay put then bounce around from one location to another. In order to minimize stress for your cat, who is not only a senior, but has an illness, I would recommend keeping this in mind.