Cottage season is here and you may be thinking about taking your cat with you to your summer place. You won’t have to pay for a cat-sitter or boarding, and you’ll have the companionship of your fluffy friend. Make sure it doesn’t turn into a cat-astrophe with these few thoughts.
1. Make the car trip up as stress-free as possible.
You don’t want your fluffy friend arriving at your temporary home already stressed out and frazzled. If your cat doesn’t like being in a carrier, or the car, make a few short runs in the weeks before your longer trip to get him or her more accustomed to being in the car.
Try spraying the carrier with Feliway (a synthetic version of a cat hormone that makes cats feel more relaxed). Use a carrier that has lots of holes in the side for good ventilation and cooling. If your car ride will be longer than an hour or two, make sure your cat has water and access to a litter box, even if it means making a stop. Put your cat on a harness and leash BEFORE you open the car. Note that it’s important that your cat be in a harness, not a collar–many cats can easily twist out of a collar when they are excited.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR CAT SHUT IN A PARKED CAR. On even a cool summer day (22ºC), the inside of a parked car can soar over 47ºC–even with the windows cracked! On a hot day it will reach fatal temperatures in just minutes.
2. Allow your cat to become familiar with the cottage.
Once you arrive, shut your cat in a quiet room with some food and water and a litter box while you unpack the car and the kids burn off steam. When things are a little quieter, and doors aren’t opening and closing, let your cat out to explore her surroundings at her own speed. Even if your kitty is familiar with the cottage, he or she will want to cautiously check out any changes and new smells.
3. Don’t let your cat outdoors unsupervised.
Cottage country might seem like the perfect place to let your cat experience the great outdoors away from the perils of traffic, but unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. Cottage country comes with a whole new set of dangers–ones with which your cat will be completely unfamiliar. There are any number of predators and larger animals, including coyotes, rattlesnakes, great horned owls and bears. There is also the possibility of microbial parasites in water that can make your cat sick, as well as fleas and ticks. In addition, your cat’s stress level being out in unfamiliar territory can be extreme. He or she can easily become confused and either get lost or run away. Some cats will try and head for home, even though home may be hundreds of miles away.
In addition to being at risk themselves, your cat poses a real threat to the local populations of small animals and birds. A cat can quickly decimate the low end of your local food chain, and have a notable impact on wild bird populations.
4. Try a protected activity.
If you do want your kitty to enjoy the beauties of cottage country, allow him or her to see it from an enclosed screen porch, or a specially made cat enclosure or cat tent. There are several commercial ones available, or you can build one. Many cats also enjoy a walk on a leash. Again, make sure that the leash is attached to a harness, not a collar. Never leave a cat unsupervised in an enclosure or on a leash.
5. Keep the details up-to-date.
In the event that your cat does escape into unfamiliar territory, your best chance of recovering your pet is to make sure that he or she is wearing a collar and tags that are up-to-date. Consider having an extra tag made for summer that has your mobile phone number, or your cottage address and number.
Now is also a good time to confirm that your microchip details are up-to-date.
It’s always a good idea to keep you vaccines up to date, but even more so if there is a possibility, as there is at a cottage, that your kitty may have unexpected exposure to other animals or parasites.