Question: My indoor cat Haley and I are extremely close. I am going on vacation for 2 weeks and my neighbor will look after her. I’m worried my absence will upset her and I’m very anxious. Can you offer any suggestions?
Answer: We admit we’re largely dog people, but we’ve always admired cats for their independence. We believed that as long as you left out enough food, water and litter boxes, you could tour Europe with no worries. But leave a dog unattended for a few hours longer than usual and he expresses his displeasure in effective though unimaginative ways involving horrific odors and stubborn stains.
Haley turns our cat world upside down. It’s nice you have that relationship. We’re not even that close to our son, who would gladly bid us goodbye for two weeks or longer.
To ease the strain of time apart, leave behind various fabrics reeking of you, suggests Valley cat behaviorist Jane Ehrlich (cattitudebehavior.com). You have license to forgo laundry for a few days (a feeling we know well).
Connect with your inner teen and scatter dirty laundry around the house, particularly in spots your cat likes to linger. By the food dish, along a windowsill, below the birdcage (if you have birds). Your feline will relish in your scent in a way your college roommates never did.
Ehrlich wonders how seriously your neighbor is taking this whole “check on my cat” favor. If it doesn’t go beyond two visits a day, making sure your cat is alive and wondering what that awful smell is, it isn’t enough.
Consider hiring an experienced pet sitter. It’s amazing how much extra effort you get when money is involved. Ask your veterinarian or friends for recommendations because a reliable sitter’s duties include petting, feeding, playing with and cleaning up after your feline.
The sitter will not do laundry, but you may want to allow him or her to bring along some air freshener. Nothing against your personal scent, or course, but Lavender Spring will probably be so much more agreeable.