People often have lots of reasons that hold them back from travel – money, fear of the unknown, hating change, being homebodies but one of the most common issues is something quite simple, they don’t like leaving loved ones behind. And by loved ones I mean pets not children or parents.
It always baffled me how my best friend refused to go away as he had a dog. His dog was very needy but he refused to put it in kennels or travel anywhere more than 30 miles away.
I have cats and they are like my children – indeed my partner calls me ‘Khalesi Mother of Cats’. Growing up my mum had various ways of dealing with pets and holidays. For one cat, he’d be left in the back garden with a pitched tent. The neighbours (who my mum didn’t trust much) would then visit twice a day to feed him in the tent. Catteries or kennels are 80% hideous. I once returned from a holiday to pick up my cat Korky (named after a Dandy comic hero) to find a mess of a cat with a ‘Dangerous Animal’ sign pinned to his cage. Korky looked like he’d been tortured for two weeks and made to live in what prisons would call ‘the hole’ as it was a two by four foot rabbit hutch with no way of exercising.
I always liken kennels and catteries like prisons. Ok I have never been in a prison although I do remember the famous scene in Silence of the Lambs where Jodie Foster walks along a row of cages and men are shouting at her and banging cups on the bars. Well, when taking Chewbacca to a cattery I remember just that. Rows and rows of penned up cats screaming and scratching like mad things. The noise never stopped and it smelled like one huge dirty litter tray. When I picked him up two weeks later he looked like he’d been verbally abused (well he had) for the entire time (especially by the evil Siamese next door).
So what is the solution? Well the first easy solution is to take them with you. I would never recommend taking an animal on a flight unless you can afford to buy it a seat but taking them with you across the UK is pretty easy. So many large hotel chains welcome pets now such as Holiday Inn and Travelodge. Depending on the animal and the journey most travel well or if you are worried ask your vet for something to calm them down.
My favourite approach is finding a really good pet feeder/walker. It is an unfortunate state of affairs that many people with busy lives have pets which is fine providing they get the care and attention the particular breed needs. Independent pet holiday helpers are vetted by the police and will come with plenty of references. I have used a fantastic one recently who visits my cats twice a day, plays with them, brushes them, feeds and cuddles them as well as checking my mail and feeding my plants.
The best part about this set up is that the animals are in their own home with their own things so are calm. They have their own food and the cost is normally much cheaper than boarding. Dogs will be walked and played with too – for me it’s a fab solution.
Be warned as there are some bad pet carers out there – ones that will chuck food in and leave. You need to make sure you find someone genuinely cares for animals. My lady clearly adores her job and even leaves the cats an end of holiday report about their behaviour.
Do the right thing for your pets. If you travel lots then don’t commit to an animal in the first place but if you do want to still have a pet but see the world at times then only do it if you are prepared to give them the right care with a professional or a family member so they never feel neglect and you can continue enjoying exploring.