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Cat & Kitten

What To Do With Your Pets When You Go On Vacation

Val Cairney May 31, 2024 22

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image of a cat and dog wearing sunglasses and sitting on a beach. Representing what to do with your pets when you go on vacation

Hi everyone and welcome to Val Talks Pets! Are you wondering what to do with your pets when you go on vacation?  Well, I’ve got the answers, so let’s get to it.

When you are preparing for vacation one of the most important things on your to-do list is to make arrangements for your pet.  If you are actually travelling with your pet, check out my episode on travelling with pets to get all the info you will need to have a safe and glitch free vacation.  But, if you are travelling and your pet or pets cannot go with you arrangements need to be made. 

Factors to consider

A few factors will have to be taken into consideration when deciding what to do with your pets when you go on vacation.  Do you have a cat or cats?  A dog? Both?  How old are they?  Do they require specific care?  How well do they do on their own?  Are they okay going to someone else’s home? How long will you be away?  You get the picture.  There is a lot to think about, but you know your pets the best so let’s go through the options. 


Leaving cats at home

cat watching a tv show about fish

Cats are the easiest.  Most cats are perfectly fine left for a few days with someone coming in to check on them.  Leaving out large bowls of water and dry food works well and a friend can come in every other day and clean the box and feed wet food if necessary, change water and top up food.  I will be doing this for a friend next week for two weeks.  Her cat is quite fine on his own.  I go in every other day and do the food and water changes and clean the litter box and then I hang out with him for a while and pet him and play with him and give him treats.  He is very happy to see me when I come in. 

Some tips however when leaving a cat or cats alone is to make sure you have put everything out of reach that your cat can get in to and either destroy or ingest which would be very bad.  I also like to have lights on timers not just for the animals but safety as well, night lights and a radio playing.  You should make sure your cat visitor has your contact info and knows who your vet is, just in case.  

Leave with a family member/friend

Another way to have your cat or cats cared for is to take them to a family member or friend.  This can be tricky as many cats will hide for a few days in unfamiliar surroundings.  They can also find ways to disappear into ducts or walls or basement hidey holes.  This can be a problem because they may get in but can’t get out.  So, if the cats are going to someone’s house, that person will have to cat proof their house.  It’s probably best to contain the cats in one area for a few days until they get used to not being in their own home.  Taking your cat to a caregiver is a great idea if you are going for an extended period of time.  

Boarding Facility

ginger cat sleeping in white cat bed

Another idea for a cat is to go to a cat boarding facility.  You would have to check your area to see what facilities are nearby that board cats.  If this is something you are thinking of doing, you will have to give yourself a bit of time before vacation to check out facilities and talk to the facility owners and managers.  I would never take my cat or dog for that matter without physically going to the facility and checking out for myself.  The facility will inform you what they require for your cat to board with them and that could include vaccinations they may not have had, so you will need time to get to the vet and have your cat vaccinated.  

House Sitter

And last but now least, if you have a friend or family member that would like to come and stay in your home while you are away, your kitty will have company and no disruption to their routine.  You can also hire a house sitter as well.


When it comes to dogs, things are a bit different.  Leaving a dog on its own for long periods of time may not work out depending on the dog.  Dogs need to be let out to go to the bathroom, walked, and have companionship.  For this reason, getting the dog taken care while away needs more forethought.  The options are actually the same as cats but with more detail.

Pet Sitter

Obviously the first option which was to have a person visit every other day is not going to work with a dog.  However, it may work if you have a person or persons come in to let your dog out and feed and walk two or three times a day.  A friend or several friends or family members could do this, taking turns or you could hire a pet sitter.  A pet sitter could become a bit pricey if they are coming to your home three times a day for a week or so.  It is an option however, but your dog would still need to be comfortable being alone for longer periods of time and overnight.  

Pet sitter entering house to be greeted by two dogs

The pet sitter idea can also extend to having a pet sitter come and stay in your home.  This could be a professional, paid pet sitter or again a friend or family member.  This is the least disruptive option for your dog.  If you have a dog and a cat this could be a really good option.  

Considerations when employing a sitter

Other preparations I think should take place is to take the dog to the pet sitters for a visit before being left.  This way the dog will not be completely in unfamiliar territory.  I say, take a look around outside to make sure that the backyard is secure if they have one, so the dog can go out in the yard and not get out under the fence.  It’s always a good idea to bring all of the dog’s familiar things.  Blanket, bed, toys, bowls and of course their leashes and harness or collar. 

And one of the biggest things I run into all the time is someone coming in looking to get food for the dog they are looking after, having no idea what it is because the pet parents didn’t leave enough food or treats for the dog.  Make sure you have left the sitter more than enough food and treats or at the very least, leave them the info of what food your pet eats and where to get it. This applies to the cat as well.  

And it is a good idea to remember that your dog could easily be upset for a few days and not want to eat or have a bout of the scoots.  Let the sitter know that this is a possibility and it isn’t anything to really worry about unless it persists.  In this case your emergency contact info should be very clearly given and who your vet is, their phone number and their address. 

Stay with a friend or family member

The next option is to take your dog to a friends or a family member’s home.  Some people have family or friends that know their pet quite well and this works out just fine.  If it is the first time, you will have to prepare the sitter and the dog.  First, I suggest getting a temporary I.D. tag with the pet sitter’s phone number.  Remember, you are away.  If the dog gets out, this can be very helpful as the finder of the dog can directly phone the sitter.   

image of two women and two digs at a boarding kennel

Boarding Kennel

Now, if any of these options are not going to work, then a boarding kennel will have to be looked into.  And I mean looked into.  A visit to the kennel is a must.  You have to see the facility where your dog will be housed and feel comfortable about their care. sets out the following 15 tips to look out for. Please visit for further information on each tip.

  • Ask for licenses and certifications.
  • Ask about their insurance policy.
  • They need to have access to a local vet 24/7.
  • Check what their vaccination policy is.
  • Modern and spacious kennels.
  • The boarding facilities are clean with no bad smell.
  • There are outdoor and indoor play area for dogs.
  • Your dog gets daily walks and exercise.
  • Look for a visible online reputation and online reviews.
  • Ask for their policy on identifying and treating kennel stress.
  • They should make you fill out a doggy fact file.
  • The staff are friendly and welcoming.
  • Your dog reacts well to the staff.
  • Staff are fully trained, qualified, and experienced.  
  • You can book in one-night stay to test.

These are fantastic tips from and I think knowing these will really allow you to feel comfortable finding the right boarding facility for your dog.  

Small animals and birds

woman holding a parrot

For dogs and cats these are pretty much your options.  As for small animals and birds, the options are somewhat similar.  Someone can come in every day to feed and change water and bedding.  Just make sure it is someone who is experienced with small animals.  Or you could take your bunny or guinea pig to a friend if again they don’t mind.  Birds too need looking after so it is important that you go through all the care and feeding with a minder to make sure your bird doesn’t fly the coup as they say.  


I think leaving our pets is always stressful because we are worried everything is going okay.  The only way to deal with that is to have the type of pet sitting you feel that is best for you and for your pet.  Complete information to the sitter whether in home or at their home is imperative.  Preparation is key.  Remember the food because I can’t tell you how many times at this time of year do I have sitters coming in with no clue what the dog or cat eats and they are out of food.  As for kennels, the tips from doggysaurus are fantastic which as you can see require research because as I say, knowing is caring. Happy vacation!

All images are obtained from Canva with a subscription, unless otherwise noted.

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Val Cairney

Hi everyone, and welcome to Val Talk’s Pets, the forum for pet parents and enthusiasts alike. So, I have been working in the pet industry now for almost 10 years and, on a daily basis, I handle a lot of issues and questions arising from pet parents. I am not a veterinarian but I do have certifications in Canine, Feline, Small Animal, Fish and Herptile and Avian Health and Nutrition from the University of California, Davis Extension, the Vet College.

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