Home alone? What to do with your cat when you go on holiday

July 21, 2021

If you’re worried about leaving your cat when you go on holiday, you’re not alone. Many cat owners in Derbyshire aren’t sure what to do with their cat when they go away.

Leaving your cat completely home alone, like Macaulay Culkin in the movie, should always be avoided. Read our head vet, Emma Poore’s advice on why this is, and how to make sure your cat is well cared for while you head off into the sunset.

Why you shouldn’t leave your cat home all alone

Have you ever thought, will my cat be sad when I go on vacation? Cats are often thought of as aloof and self-reliant when in fact, they’re social creatures that form close bonds with their human family. Your cat won’t understand why they’re suddenly completely alone for days.

When cats get stressed or anxious, their health can suffer, and their behaviour can change. Separation anxiety in cats is often overlooked until it becomes serious. Symptoms can include overgrooming, soiling indoors, and extreme vocalising.

Your cat also relies on you for shelter, food & water, a clean litter tray, being let outdoors (if you don’t have a cat flap) companionship, and heath care.

So, how do you take holidays when you own a cat? Emma has some suggestions below.

What to do with your cat when you go on holiday:

  1. Arrange homecare with a friend, neighbour or professional pet sitter – This is the ideal scenario, so your cat’s routine doesn’t change too much, and they have someone to hang out with. Your sitter could either provide live-in care, or twice-daily visits. It’s a good idea to try and get your cat used to the sitter ahead of your trip.
  2. Choose a house swap holiday – If you have friends or family that live somewhere you fancy going, see if they’ll swap homes with you for their holiday…and look after your cat.
  3. Book your cat into a swanky home-from-home boarding facility – These days, there’s a lot more choice when it comes to boarding your cat. Do an online search for ‘cat boarding near me’ and you’ll likely get a good selection for Derbyshire – maybe even some luxury options!
  4. Take your cat with you – Cat friendly holidays might not be as popular as dog ones, but some holiday accommodations will accept other pets. Some cats love to travel and it’s true that you won’t know until you try it. However, if you have a feeling your cat won’t appreciate such a big change and could wander off, this option may not be right for them, or you. Going outside of the UK will be more of a challenge, so make sure you research this in advance.

Whatever option you choose, Emma recommends adding the details for your cat’s carer, or your cat friendly holiday information to their microchip account online, just in case…

It’s also advisable to write down your cat’s routine and supply any items they need to their carer. This should include food and drink requirements, any mediation or flea & worm treatments they’re due, and our phone number: 01530 270 170

We hope you have a fantastic holiday! Remember, if you or your cat sitter needs help or advice, our contacts and emergency number can be found here.

How to find the right cat sitter in Derbyshire

July 7, 2021

If you’ve booked a summer holiday but haven’t made arrangements for your cat yet, our head nurse, Lara Bettaney, has some advice for you.

Read all about homecare options below and download Lara’s handy checklist to help you remember what you need to do before you depart.

Download our cat holiday checklist

There are some excellent catteries in Derbyshire but not all cats do well away from home. Stay-at-home cat care is an increasingly popular option but it’s important to get the details right for your cat. These are your homecare options:

  • Daily visits can be carried out by a friend, neighbour or professional cat sitter. They’ll need to take care of your cat’s basic needs and ideally spend time with them too. Family members are a great option as your cat will likely be comfortable in their presence.
  • Live-in care is a more focussed version of daily visits. It may be the better option if you have an anxious cat, they’re on medication, or you have several pets. Your pet(s) will have company at various times of the day and their routine can remain relatively unchanged.

You’ll feel better while you’re away if someone trustworthy and knowledgeable is looking after your cat and is checking your home is secure.

Top tip – Lara recommends getting your cat microchipped before you go away (if they’re not already), in case they go missing. Add your cat sitter’s details to your microchip account online so they can talk to animal care professionals on your behalf. Book a microchip appointment.

What your cat needs when you’re on holiday

When looking for a cat sitter, Lara advises that you should check they’re able and willing to take care of the following:

  • Regular visits at least twice daily.
  • Your cat’s food & routine should be the same as if you were at home.
  • An abundant supply of fresh water must always be available.
  • Litter trays should be cleaned twice daily, especially during warm weather.
  • Quality time spent playing or simply being with your cat.
  • Flea & worm products applying or medication administering if required, and a trip to our vet practice if there’s a problem…

Common cat health issues that need a vet’s attention: male cats having issues urinating, deep scratches or animal bites, vomiting & diarrhoea for over 24 hours, heatstroke, breathing difficulties, not eating, swelling on the face or throat, eye injuries, severe or uncontrollable bleeding, poisoning,
severe pain or a suspected fracture, seizure or collapse. You may want to print this for your sitter.

If it isn’t someone you know personally and you’re choosing a professional cat sitter, Lara recommends asking them about:

  • References – Are they able to provide details of a few other people they have sat for?
  • Insurance – Professional cat sitters should be insured – ask to check their documents.
  • First Aid – Do they know pet first aid and the signs to look out for if your cat is unwell?

Now that you know what to look for in a cat holiday sitter, all that’s left to do is make sure you and your cat are ready for when you go away. Our cat holiday checklist can help you with this – download now.

3 important summer disease checks for cats in Derbyshire

June 21, 2021

Did you know that most summer cat diseases are preventable? According to our veterinary team at STAR Vets, cat owners in Derbyshire can lower the risk of their feline friend contracting a common cat illness, by carrying out a few simple checks this summer. Follow our checklist below.

Caroline’s three summer checks every cat owner should make:

1. Check your cat’s vaccinations are up to date
The risk from infectious common cat diseases is greater in summer as there are more cats outdoors. Cats are routinely vaccinated against the below diseases to give them optimal protection:

  • Feline Infectious Enteritis
  • Feline Herpes Virus
  • Feline Calicivirus
  • Feline Leukaemia Virus (optional)

The schedule for some vaccines may differ depending on your cat’s age and lifestyle. For example, indoor cats may need less frequent vaccines for certain diseases than outdoor cats, and some vaccines last longer than 12 months. If you’re unsure whether your cat is due a vaccination and you’re registered with STAR Vets, get in touch and our team can help.

Contact us about cat vaccinations

2. Check your cat for obvious signs of illness
Cats can be masters of disguise when it comes to illness and pain. However, there are some common, obvious signs that your cat might be sick: sneezing, coughing, runny eyes & nose, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy.

If your cat is due a vaccination, our vets can give them a nose-to-tail health check at the same time to look for any potential problems. Talk to us about your cat’s vaccinations and health.

3. Check your cat for ticks and other parasites

  • Check your cat for ticks when they come home for the day by running your fingers through their fur and feeling for little hard bumps. You’ll need a special tick removal tool to avoid leaving the tick’s head in, as this increases the risk of disease transmission. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, a debilitating condition that can affect cats, dogs, and humans.
  • While you’re there, it’s worthwhile checking your cat for signs of fleas & roundworms. Always wash your hands after and ask our team what to look out for if you’re unsure.

Our team can talk to you about the best combination of preventative treatments to give your cat optimal protection from parasites and common diseases. They can also tell you about our pet health plan that can save you money on preventative cat care. Just give us a call on 01530 270 170.

COVID cat concerns: separation anxiety & obesity

May 21, 2021

During COVID lockdowns, did you spend way more time than normal at home in Derbyshire with your cat? Did you both eat more and do less? Chances are, weight gain and separation anxiety could now be an issue… for your cat.

You may need to help your cat adjust now that you’re returning to some kind of normality and leaving the house more. Our head nurse Lara Bettaney has some advice on COVID cat concerns.

Get cat advice from our nurses

COVID Cat obesity:

Social distancing from your sofa, cat on lap, sharing snacks… sound familiar? Doing less and eating more leads to weight gain. If your cat is overweight, their quality & length of life can suffer. There’s no need to panic, STAR Vets’ nursing team can help.

Book your cat in for a weight check and body condition score review. Our nurses can advise you on the best foods for overweight cats, and ways to get your cat moving more.

COVID Cat separation anxiety:

You hear about dogs, but can cats get separation anxiety? Yes. Cats are often seen as ‘aloof’, but are in fact very attached to their owners. They’re typically not as vocal or destructive about it as dogs, which is why cat separation anxiety often goes unnoticed until it’s severe. It can be caused by change or a lack of stimuli, and when forming a dysfunctional bond i.e. prolonged time at home with you.

Anxiety in cats usually presents as behaviour issues:

  • your cat cries when you leave, loudly and excessively
  • they’ve started urinating on your clothes or soiling other areas indoors
  • licking and self-grooming has become an obsession
  • your cat has become clingy or takes self-isolation too far
  • changes at mealtimes i.e. eating too fast or not eating
  • vomiting & diarrhoea (common for other health issues, get checked if more than 24 hrs)

If your cat is displaying some of these new behaviours, it’s a good idea to get them checked by our team. Some health issues can also cause behavioural changes. If needed, our team can talk to you about getting support from an experienced pet behaviourist.

4 ways you can help your cat adjust after lockdown:

  1. Cut the snacks, but talk to our team before changing your cat’s main diet.
  2. Add more stimuli to their environment for when you’re not there – cat activity centres and toys can also help with weight loss.
  3. Designate time each day for playing and grooming – great for exercise and bonding.
  4. Ask us about using plugin diffusers that omit natural pet pheromones to soothe your cat.

If you’d like to chat about these topics or anything else, STAR Vets’ friendly nurses are happy to help. Talk to us about your cat.



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