As a professional pet sitting company owner, I had considered the possibility of opening my home’s second rooms to cats needing boarding, as I don’t believe there are many cat boarding in Mesa facilities. And while I have always felt very strongly that boarding cats at a facility is really NOT the best option for cats, in my mind I thought that providing care for them in a comfy room with someone they knew would be ok. However, I recently had an experience that once again has changed my mind.
One of our in home pet sitting clients’ air conditioning decided to go on the fritz while we were caring for two cats in his home. With the temperature reaching over 90 by late afternoon, we knew we could not ethically leave the cats in the home with no air conditioning, even though the ‘cooler’ evening temps were coming. So we did what (hopefully) any professional service would do, I had the sitter bring the two girls to my home until the AC could properly be fixed.
The second room had a nice tall cat condo in it with 2 cubby holes and two perches as well as some nice scratching posts. The room also, of course, had a litter box and fresh cold water. Additionally, the sitter brought the girls food and their 2 favorite toys. I should also mention I have personally provided pet sitting for this client before so his one cat knew me well. The girls were relieved to be out of the cat carrier and at first were rubbing against me to say hi. But that was very short lived. When they realized they were not at home, they began to sniff around, eyes dilated, bodies tense and tails twitching furiously at all the strange smells. They didn’t even give the cat condo a second glance.
I let the girls sniff around and talked to them comfortingly. I also got them a wet food treat (they normally only eat dry) so that they could be additionally hydrated from the few hours in the warm house. Despite most cats loving wet food, neither kitty touched it. In fact for the better part of the rest of the evening, neither of them ate or drank much. I visited them at least twice more that evening. Both times I went in to visit them, they were tucked in the attached bathroom in a corner, eyes dilated and clearly wondering what the heck was going on. They would always come over to say hi but then would go back into the bathroom.
The next day was much the same. The one cat seemed to relax very slightly, but her sister was in fact becoming more stressed. She would hiss and growl at her sister; something she had never done before as they are very close usually sleeping snuggled up to each other. Her sister started giving her a wide berth, no more consoling snuggles from her sister. 🙁 Despite visiting multiple times throughout the day and trying to engage her in play, she wasn’t having any of it. Later that day she began growling and softly hissing at me. Again something she had never done in her own home. She is normally the most playful, affectionate. sweet cat who enjoys being petted and even to lay snuggled on top of you! I believe had I tried to do that with her here I would have been swatted at. I do not believe she ate the whole time she was there; I even tried to give her a couple treats, too.
My point with all this is that I thought surely in the comfort of someone else’s home, a person they knew, no less, the cats would be fine. NOPE! I believe this applies to taking them to friends or family members that the cat knows well, too. Cats just get stressed anywhere but their own home. This situation has just reaffirmed my belief – if we as pet guardians truly care about the welfare and well being of our pets, then Cats should ALWAYS stay in their home when you go on vacation!
Luckily the AC was fixed by the end of the day and the girls were home by 7:45pm. The first thing they did when they got into the safety of their own home? Eat.
So if you are looking for cat boarding in Mesa, Gilbert, or Chandler, please re-consider.