I was going to call this piece ‘Cats & Holidays’ but that would suggest I am going on a ‘cat holiday’. I’m not. I wish I were. Apparently there is a ‘cat ranch’ in California where you can stay for 70 dollars a night that has 3000 cats. I can’t seem to persuade Andy to go there though. No, this is a few words about the anxiety I have every year when it comes to holiday time and l have to leave the cats at home…
I’m off on my holidays in a few days and instead of feeling excited, I’m in that constantly worried, fearful, distracted, biting my lip phase of wondering how the cats are going to cope while we are away.
We have 2 cats, Lili (a Burmese) and Buffy, who is a rescued stray. To be fair, they are both rescues really, as Lili was gifted to me when my friend emigrated.
It struck me the other day that you hardly ever hear about this anxiety. This could mean that my cats are the only ones who kick up such a fuss.
This is how it usually pans out. First, months before the planned trip, I start begging, pleading and bribing my grown up children to come home and cat sit for me. This goes quite well at first, and they agree to come and stay, and I imagine that for the whole period, the cats aren’t even going to notice I’m away, as two people very familiar to them will be staying the whole time. Then, over time, that starts to fall apart. Being busy people, my children soon realise that they can’t commit to all those days at all, and may offer one or two cat sitting days but not the fourteen days I was hoping, ( not forgetting this is actually 28 slots – as cats need feeding morning and evening)
I consider a cattery for about a minute and a half … and then dismiss the idea, not just because it will cost more than our own holiday, but also because I cannot imagine my cats taking to a cat filled environment, when they spend most of their lives trying to avoid other cats, (even each other.)
Next, I start on the relatives; my mum for example. Mum is amenable, but her limit is a couple of mornings (she does live an hour away). The net has to be cast wider. I ask local friends if they could manage a visit or two. One wonderful friend offers about 6 slots.
As things are getting complicated, I start the extremely intricate colour co-ordinated cat rota on a spreadsheet, but I’m still about five whole days down. I consider the automatic pet feeder, a contraption we bought last year, but I’m too worried that it will fail to open and I can’t cope with the worry of my poor babies starving whilst they look helplessly at a feeding box that won’t open. Of course they wouldn’t starve in reality. They would probably move in with someone else in the road for the duration, cats are extremely adaptable. It doesn’t stop me worrying though.
Finally, my stepdaughter saves the day by offering to come and stay for a few days – so problem solved, right? No, actually my anxiety is about to REALLY get going. I order in massive amounts of pet food and worry about how all the different cat sitters will know which cat likes which food (aside from the fact that Lili is on completely different food to Buffy, and needs hot water bottle every morning, but that’s ANOTHER story). I start to write complicated lists and instructions.
Meanwhile, Andy brings the suitcases down from the attic and immediately both cats sit on/in them. They stare at me and the message is very clear, “Surely you are not serious? Going away AGAIN? How COULD you?”
A few days before we are due to leave, I visit all the various sitters giving them keys and wine …and thanking them profusely for looking after my cats, and begging them to spend some time with them loving and talking to them, not just feeding them, and don’t forget to give them fresh water every time, and make sure the bowls are clean because Lili won’t eat out of a dirty bowl…
Once I have done all THAT, the limping starts. I say limping, it’s usually limping. Sometimes it could be a nasty bite, or a spell of sickness, but I can absolutely guarantee that a day or so before we leave, there will be a cat ‘catastrophe.’ I have no doubt that this is completely organised and instigated amongst the cats themselves. I’m sure they have a number of moggy meetings in the days before we leave, and discuss catty reasons to try and prevent my going. In any case it usually involves a last minute dash to the vet before we go away.
I then sit on the beach and worry for 2 weeks …. though the cat sitters usually send me some pictures and videos trying to present a picture of happy catdom in my absence.
Andy has suggested getting rid of the cats so we don’t have this issue, but the truth is, I’m afraid I will be getting rid of him quicker than I would part with my furry babies.
And that’s the issue isn’t it, somehow over the ages, cats have trained us very well indeed. Or it is just me ? Happy holidays! 😺