New and old cat owners are often in the same boat when it comes to what to do with their beloved Ragdoll while they are on vacation. Ragdolls are very social and enjoy human interaction, so it can be hard to think of leaving them on their own. But, will they handle being alone for a weekend by themselves? What about longer trips? Is it really safe to board them in a kennel? These are questions we have been asked a lot by our customers. There is no one right answer, but we thought we would share some of what we have learned in order to help you decide the best solution for your vacation.
First, we have left our Ragdolls home alone while on short weekend trips and they do very well. We usually have someone stop in once or twice to clean the litter and give them food and water and a little love. In our house the Ragdolls have the benefit of other cat company while we are gone. If your Ragdoll is the only animal in your home it might be a little harder on them, but they should be able to make it a few days alone. The best thing to do is watch them and see how they handle it. If they seem really stressed when you leave for a few days you might need to adjust to meet the needs of your cat.
When we go on longer trips we usually have someone come and pet sit for us. In our case, they come and stay in our home while we are gone, but some pet sitters will also have you bring your pet to them. Pet sitters are a great way to ensure that your Ragdoll has daily interaction with a person and that their needs are being met. If you are hoping to find a pet sitter in your area a good place to start is by asking your vet for recommendations. You can also talk to friends or family. Once you find a list of potential pet sitters, we recommend you do a little interviewing before you decide to place your pet in their care. It is helpful to have them over to meet your Ragdoll. You will be able to tell right away if your cat will be comfortable in their care. You might also want to ask them for references. It's always good to know that other customers are happy with their work. Most importantly, if they are bringing your cat into their home you will want to make sure that any other animals in their care are healthy and free from diseases.
We understand that some people might not like the idea of someone else staying in their home or might not have the resources to pay for a pet sitter. So another option is to board your Ragdoll in a kennel. Is this safe? It really just depends on the kennel. A good kennel will have separate areas for each animal and will have strict policies of disinfecting and cleanliness. They will also require that any animal boarded with them is up-to-date on their vaccinations. All these policies will insure that your cat is safe from disease. But what about the diseases that some cats are not vaccinated against FELV, FIV, and FIP (see our article here for more information on these diseases)? There is very little risk that your Ragdoll could catch either FELV or FIV from being boarded in a kennel. Both diseases require intimate contact for the disease to spread, a type of contact that would be impossible in a good kennel. FIP should also be a low risk, if the kennel is good about disinfecting and making sure the cats have no contact (including sneezing or coughing) with other cats. Of course, all of this really depends on the individual kennel, so we recommend that you visit any kennel before deciding to board your Ragdoll. Make sure that they have a clean facility and that the animals are in areas that are clearly separate from other animals. Then ask to review their boarding policies to make sure they require up to date vaccinations. Better yet, find out if they require negative FELV and FIV tests for their boarded cats. The more you know about their policies the better able you will be to decide if you are comfortable trusting your Ragdoll to them while you are gone.
If you aren't satisfied with any of the above options you could do what a lot of our Ragdoll families do. Take your Ragdoll with you on vacation. Most Ragdolls seem to greatly enjoy trips in the car, especially if they are allowed to roam freely and sit on your laps. We hear of a lot of our families taking their kittens with them in their RV while they are camping or taking them to stay at a hotel. We've even heard of families that take their cats with them on plane trips. The benefits to having your Ragdoll with you are obvious. While at first it might seem an unlikely possibility to take your cat on vacation, it seems to work well for a lot of our customers.