Last Christmas a friend gave me a cute little sign that I keep on my desk. It says “Home is Where the Cat is”. Just another way of saying it is the cat that makes a home a home. But did you ever consider just how important home is to a cat?
Shortly after Thelma and Louise joined us, we were so caught up in the excitement of being new kitty parents that it didn’t even occur to us that we would need to think about their care during an upcoming weekend away. Fortunately the couple who rescued them came to our rescue as well, and graciously agreed to look after them that one time.
It was several months until our next trip, and by then we also had Buttons. What to do with three cats? Sure, several hotels now promote themselves as pet friendly so you don’t need to leave Mittens at home, but we were driving several hours and that would be really tricky with three cats. After a little research, we decided to give a local boarding place a try. We had heard good things about it, and with all of the options for play time and one on one care were sure it would be a good fit. So imagine our surprise when we stopped in to pick them up and it was evident that they did not like it at all!
I don’t think the boarding company did anything wrong, but after talking with a few other cat owners, I started to appreciate just how important familiar surroundings are to a cat. In hindsight it makes perfect sense. Cats are pretty territorial by nature, and are most comfortable in the environment they know. Especially indoor cats like ours. And when you factor in just a simple change like the absence of their owner, it is best to keep them where they feel most safe.
That said, cat sitters were a new concept to me. I was unfamiliar with entrusting my home and three babies to a complete stranger with the hope that he or she would be just as thorough in attending to everything as I. There are so many details in how we handle even the simplest of things. Take feeding, for example. We give them wet food twice daily. Divide the portion of one can three ways. But I also like to chop up any big chunks because I can’t understand how a little kitty is supposed to manage those huge bites! And litter boxes. We keep two in the basement and clean them twice daily, with a detailed scrubbing weekly. Would someone be able to match the way we do things detail for detail so the cats would get the same care?
It was a learning process, but we finally did find a good match. It’s interesting, because it was one of the things that led me to start doing it myself. There was something about knowing that if I had a specific need, others may have it, too. I really wanted to create a place where folks could feel completely safe knowing their cat was well cared for and loved. In fact, although he may not say it, I’m sure I drove my husband crazy with all of my ideas on how much better a service could be “if only they would do this” or “if only they would do that.” He used to always say “Relax, Maria. You are never going to find someone who will do things as good as you.” You know what, I think he’s right! ; )