What are some of the tips you’d offer to someone traveling with a pet? In terms of keeping the pet itself comfortable.
One of the biggest things is making sure you have your pet emergency kit. You want to make sure that everything your pets needs to stay comfortable—and just in case of emergency—is with you. You can temper that kit if you’re flying as opposed to driving, but you want to make sure you have the essentials.
You also want to make sure that you’re familiar with the lay of the land of the place you’re going. If you have friends there, ask them about the vets or amenities they use in their day to day. The great thing about animal people is that we’re a tribe, and to be able to get yourself into that tribe no matter where you are, I think that’s helpful as well.
As for hotels: It’s not enough for a hotel to be animal friendly; you want to set up your animal’s space. Just as you crave stability and ritual in your life, they crave it a whole lot more. It’s important for them—no matter where you are—that their ritual stays the same. You have the ability to bring the bowls that they use. If you’re traveling with a cat, when you get there, you want to make sure that you replicate the litter box you have at home the best you can. That is the surefire way of getting your animal comfortable in their new environment.
What about tips for travelers who have to leave their pets behind?
For some reason folks feel like it’s okay to put out a bowl of food and that’s it—your cats are good for three days. Just because cats don’t protest as loudly as dogs do does not mean that they don’t experience that same distress when you remove their day-to-day rituals and people. You want to keep those rituals intact the best you can. It’s not about, “Oh, I have a friend who will stop by and feed them.” Hire a pet sitter, someone who will come over once or twice a day. Or, if your pet is really needy, do an overnight. It’s important to keep that stability. If you don’t do it, you may be saving a buck here or there, but you’re also tempting fate when it comes to behavior problems. There are so many problems that are born from separation anxiety, so why take that chance? You want to make sure that your animals are as happy at home as you are on vacation.
Marion Lovato is the author of Sam, the Superkitty. Her book describes an ordinary cat changing into a superhero to protect his family from things that go bump in the night. Available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle edition. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1604588667