Darned the cold weather!

 

 

 

 

 

doofs

Ready for Camping

Darned that cold weather. Me and the boys are ready for our next camping trip, but that cold weather has prevented us from actually getting out and doing it. We’re so ready. Hopefully, videos will be coming soon of our adventures in our tent!

Boarding Facilities Outside the U.S.

Longcroft Hotel Autumn Suite

Longcroft Hotel Autumn Suite

I just ran across three cat boarding facilities … I mean Hotels … that look like great vacation spots. There’s the Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel in England, Pet inn ROYAL in Japan, and the Cat Utopia in Australia. They look like lovely places to stay! I’m ready to go. Now where’s my passport?

Welcome!

My blog has been getting views from all around the world. That makes me very excited and happy. So, I’d just like to say Thank You and Welcome to the people in the following countries that have visited this site so far!

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Holiday Travels with Your Cat, Part 4

I'm ready to go!

I’m ready to go!

Here’s the last part of my installment for travelling with cats …. or, in this case, without cats. Sometimes you humans can’t take us cats with you. Sometimes, us cats don’t want to or can’t go. That means leaving us behind. When you can’t take us with you for whatever reason, you have a few options.

First, there’s boarding facilities. You can find all sorts of different kind of boarding facilities from those that use cages, those that don’t use cages, those that house both dogs and cats, and those at Veterinary Hospitals. The good part about using a veterinary hospital is that if we should get sick, they’re more likely to spot it sooner and react quicker. The down side is that Veterinary Hospitals tend to be short on space, short on time, and tend to use cages. What’s wrong with cages, you ask? Just think of what it would be like for you to go to jail for the holidays. Not exactly you’re idea of a merry time!!! However, not all Veterinary Hospitals use cages, and there are more of them trying to make cat boarding as comfortable as possible for us cats. The Purr-fect Hotel at the Highland Veterinary Hospital in Highland, MD is a great example of a hospital that has some great space for boarding cats. I’d be pretty comfy there!

Standard Cat Boarding Cages

Standard Cat Boarding Cages

Additionally, for some interesting, strange, unidentifiable reason, most boarding facilities that use cages tend to have the cages facing each other (Veterinary Hospitals are typically the exception to this rule, but not always). So, what’s wrong with this, you ask? Well, I’m a social guy; I like other kitties. But if there’s a cat on the other side of the room staring me down because he hates other cats, it doesn’t exactly make my stay very comfortable. In fact, it stresses me out big time. And for that cat who doesn’t like other cats, being at a boarding facility that uses cages will be incredibly miserable for him, incredibly stressful, and make him more susceptible to illness (travel, which stresses us out, will always make us more susceptible to illness, but we’re talking about the difference between possibly getting a little cough to coming down with a full-blown cold). So, in your search for boarding facilities, try not to choose one that has cages …  and try not to pick that one that says it houses cats in cages in a cozy laundry room (I kid you not!). You may pay a little bit more for a cageless boarding facility, but generally the difference in cost is minor.

A view of Camp Kitty

A view of Camp Kitty

So what else should you look for? Try to stay away from boarding facilities that house both dogs and cats. There are cat-only boarding facilities out there. But if you can’t find one near you, try to choose a facility where the dog noise is comfortably muffled. Note: if there are dogs housed at the boarding facility, you won’t be able to get away from dog noise. Also ask to go on a tour of the facility. If they won’t let you, don’t board your cat there. And if there is more than a minimal smell of litter or food (similar to what you’d smell at home), don’t use that facility, either (do keep in mind that if they’ve just cleaned, which is typically done during the morning hours, there may be a stronger odor than if they’d cleaned hours ago). Also ask what veterinarian they use (if you’re not boarding at a Veterinary Hospital). If they don’t freely give you that information, go away. Also, if they don’t allow you to bring bedding, toys and food from home, they probably don’t understand how to make a cat as comfortable as possible (would you want to go somewhere that you weren’t allowed to bring your own clothes and had to wear someone else’s?). And do be sure to bring some comforts from home; it makes us feel a lot better! Know that most, if not all, boarding facilities require that your cat is current on vaccines. If your vet has recommended not giving anymore vaccines (which can happen, especially if the cat is older), talk with them about doing so for boarding purposes or if there are any other alternatives.

A really good example of a cat boarding facility is called Evergreen Cat Lodge in Evergreen, CO. You can house up to 3 cats in one suite for no extra charge (a lot of places do charge extra for more than one cat). The rooms look like little homes. And they don’t charge for little add-on services like nail clippings, administering medications, and ATTENTION!!! The only extra service charges, which is optional, that they appear to have are webcams that you can gain access to for $5 per day. And, let’s face it, that’s a really minimal charge for the pleasure of watching your cats nap all day!!! There’s also the Cat Taxi in the off-chance you can’t bring us yourself. The price of the cat taxi is similar to how an actual taxi works (they charge by mile with a $20 minimum charge).

Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Some other good examples of cat boarding facilities are Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams in San Francisco, CA  and Camp Kitty in Scottsdale, GA. Please be aware that I’ve never been to a boarding facility, so I am not advertising for nor vouching for any of these places. I’m calling them good solely from what information I find online. It’s up to you to choose what you’re comfortable with.

However, in most cases, when you have to leave your kitty behind, using a pet sitter is typically the best option. We’ll be at home where we can hide in our usual spots, smell the usual smells, and not have to worry about going anywhere. How do you find a petsitter? First, find one who specializes in cats. It doesn’t have to be a cat-only pet sitter, but s/he should know cats well, appear comfortable around your cats, and have some good knowledge of cat behavior. Some pet sitters are insured, some are not. Which do you choose? Well, pet sitters that are insured are typically insured to cover mishaps, such as damage to the home (whether the sitter is in the home at the time or not) and sudden illnesses of your cats. What does this mean for you? A pet sitter who’s insured is covered during mishaps while an uninsured pet sitter must pay for mishaps out of their own pocket (and aren’t protected in case the client – you – decides to sue for a mishap). It’s up to you whether you choose an insured or uninsured pet sitter. In most cases, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

How do you get recommendations for pet sitters? You can ask your veterinarian, employees of an animal shelter, friends who have cats, or you can do a search online, like through Yelp or Craigslist. Make sure that you’re comfortable with whoever you choose … you are entrusting them with the keys to your home and your cats. Ask questions that are important to you. Maybe you want to know what kind of experience they have with cats, if they’ve ever medicated a cat, if they know how to work with shy cats, what to look for in sick cats, etc.

So, remember that we cats generally prefer to stay at home.

If we can’t stay at home (like we’re old or sick or….), take us to a good boarding facility like this:

Good Cat Boarding

Good Cat Boarding at Evergreen Cat Lodge

Lastly, remember that this is bad:

Bad Cat Boarding

Bad Cat Boarding

And this is even worse:

Not an actual boarding facility photo.

Not an actual boarding facility photo.

Holiday Travels with Your Cat, Part 3

So, part 3 is on hotels everyone. Aren’t you excited? I know I am!

S30A0066Finding pet-friendly hotels isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Because so many people take their pets with them, more hotels are now trying to accommodate them. That doesn’t mean that everywhere you go, you’ll be welcome with your kitty. And not all pet packages are equal. Take, for instance, the hotels that require you to keep your pet in a crate while you’re not in the room. Me? Or any cat? In a crate? No thank you! Us kitties would prefer you steer away from those types of hotels.

Then there are the hotels that offer pet beds for loan, engraved bowls, and gift baskets full of treats and toys. Now that’s the kind of service I’m talking about! Any good feline demands a high level of service! But alas, sometimes that’s not in the budget.

Additionally, some hotels charge a fee for having pets with you. Other hotels don’t. The hotels that charge you sometimes have a low, one-time fee whereas others tack on one small fee per day you’re booked in the hotel room. The largest one-time fee I’ve seen is $75 (but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were higher one-time fees out there somewhere), the smallest $25. Daily fees seem to range between $10 and $25 dollars (although it can cost more).

So how do you go about booking pet-friendly hotels and motels? Well, if you go to the website of your hotel of choice and can’t find a pet policy on their website, call and ask them about it. There are also websites like Pets Welcome , Pet Hotels of America, and Pet Friendly Hotels.

Some of my favorite websites for pet-friendly hotels (most of which appear dog-oriented – boo hiss) are:

  • The Trump Collection Hotels offering an in-room dining menu, water bowl with accompanying bottled water, toys, and a map of the city highlight dog-friendly…. Nevermind about that last part
  • Nine Zero in Boston has a “Tail in One City” package that includes an overnight stay in a deluxe room, designer pet welcome amenity, pet bowls, pet bed placed in the room, pet sitting, pet grooming, pet walking, and pet massage services.
  • Kimpton Hotels also have a pet-friendly policy. They have no size limits and charge no fees for pets in your room. They also offer pet beds, pet dishes, water and snacks in the lobby, personal greetings from the management (nice touch, Kimpton!), and a Director of Pet Relations at some locations (beware all cats: these Directors of Pet Relations are all dogs!!!)
  • And Phineas Swann in Vermont offers deluxe dog spa package. If they offered the same to cats, I’d be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail!

Holiday Travels with Your Cat, Part 2

Here’s part 2 of the travel series. And now that I’m thinking of parts, I’ve been thinking that I need to add a 4th part – pet-friendly hotels. So that’ll actually be tomorrow’s topic, and then the day after that, I’ll tell you about how to make your kitty most comfortable if you really must leave your kitty behind.

Today’s topic will be about airlines, buses, trains and cars.

PassportGroupWRFirst, though, let me start off by saying that if you’re traveling somewhere that requires a passport of you, it’s a good idea to get a passport for your kitty, too. Pet passports are more common in the EU than here in the states. That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to get one. So how do you get one? The process is as long and tedious as getting your own passport, so make sure you get one for your cat well in advance of your travels. The first part is checking in with the embassy of whatever country you’re going to so that you know what that country expects of your cat. Then you’ll want to visit with your veterinarian and have them help you and your kitty to meet all the requirements for travel (and it’s never a bad idea to have a vet check out the health of your kitty before you leave no matter how you travel or where you go, even if you’re not taking your kitty with you). You then have to send a completed health certificate to the USDA Veterinary Services center in your state to get that certificate endorsed. And don’t forget to take your kitty in for those passport photos!

pets-on-a-plane-1No matter which airline you choose to fly on, check with them on their pet policies before you buy your tickets. Some airlines are not so pet friendly while others are. And make sure you choose an airline that allows you to bring your cat inside the cabin with you … we really aren’t fond of being stowed in the baggage area under the plane; it makes us super nervous and scared and lonely. We’d much rather be with you!

So far, I haven’t heard of an airline that has no fee for bringing your pet onboard with you. The fees are usually much cheaper than a full fare ticket, though. The fees typically range from $75 to $125 each way. And some airlines charge per carrier rather than per pet. So if you have to kitties that can comfortably fit in an airline approved carrier, by all means, keep them together. Pairs travel better together and tend to be a bit less stressed (as long as they get along – if their relationship is somewhat strained, travel together might make that worse – when in doubt, go for a car ride with them both in the same carrier, with a spare in the car so you can separate the kitties if things get bad, but make sure to separate the kitties with all of your car doors and windows closed).

collapsSome things to bring along when you travel are puppy pee pads so that you can easily change (and throw away) any messes that are made (did I mention my sister Penny gets the poop literally scared out of her when she travels?). Also, there are collapsible pet dishes you can bring along with you for water and food during rest stops. We may not feel comfortable enough to eat or drink, but offering and encouraging us to do so is not a bad idea. Check in with a vet if we don’t eat, drink or go potty in any 24 hour time period (sometimes we get super stressed and forget to do these things which can be bad for our health). And make sure you bring bottled water (it’s easy to pour small amounts into the collapsible bowl from these).

Some airlines that accept cats onboard: Air Canada, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Horizon Air, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country, United Airlines, US Airways, and Virgin America. Rumor has it that Virgin America is pretty awesome when it comes to us pets, but I’ve never flown (except for down the street in my stroller), so I can’t vouch for them (or any other airline).

So, next is trains. If you’re planning on taking your cat with you on that Amtrak trip across the U.S., don’t. Why? Because Amtrak only allows service animals. Sheesh, what’s a cat to do? I’ve always wanted to see the countryside by train!

How about Greyhound? Nope, sorry. No cats allowed on Greyhound either. Just service dogs.

I think us cats need to picket Amtrak and Greyhound – they’re petist (get it – petist – like sexist or racist or agist?)!

cat_driverHow about that car ride? You betcha. Let’s go!!! But only if the drive is within a 2 hour span. Oh, wait, I guess that’s just me. If you’re planning on going anywhere by car with your cat, I would make sure to keep your cat in the carrier at all times, have a harness and leash that are on your cat, and bring the same supplies you’d bring on an airline with the addition of a small litter box (some grocery stores and pet stores sell small disposable ones that fit perfectly on the back seat floorboard).

Just remember that with all this traveling, you need to give us a break. We’ll be at our worst and let you know all about it, too. Keep loving us anyway; we’ll eventually return to normal.

Holiday Travels with Your Cat, Part 1

2012-11-13_09-42-30_HDRAs an early Christmas gift, a good friend of mine bought a tent for me and the boys (Max and Salem) … ok, maybe she bought it for the girls, too, but we didn’t invite them on our first camping trip (and they have to bring some pretty good bribes if they want to come on the next trip, like some cat grass or nip). Today, my good friend wanted details about that first camping trip, but I wanted to wait on giving said details because that was just a trial run. The boys and I are planning to go again, but next time we’re bringing supplies. I’m supposed to bring the 12-pack of milk, Max is supposed to bring the tuna we’re going to bar-b-que, and Salem’s going to bring the Greenies we’re going to roast over the fire (like you humans do marshmallows). That’s the camping trip I’m going to post about. And I plan on taking lots of pictures.

But my friend’s inquiry about that first camping trip got me thinking … the Holidays are coming up and lots of you humans go travelling during this time. Sometimes you bring us, your cats (or pets), sometimes you don’t. So I thought I’d post a 3-part series about travelling with, or without, your pets from a cat’s point of view. Today’s topic will be on cat-carriers, the next part will be on airlines (and other types of travel, like cars, trains and buses, but mostly on airlines), and the 3rd part will be on leaving your pets behind while you travel.

So, today, to start, I just want to talk about carriers. Carriers range from horrible to the one that works the best for you and your kitty (not all cats travel the same, so not all cats will be comfortable in the same type of carrier). To find the one that works best for your kitty, it’s a good idea to buy the one you like well ahead of time, then take your kitty on short trial runs in the car with their new carrier. You know your kitty best and will be able to determine if that particular carrier is sturdy enough for longer trips. If it’s not, return it and get a different carrier (hint: put some sort of protection, like a puppy pee pad, on the bottom of the carrier so that if your kitty has an accident, it won’t absorb into whatever material the carrier is made out of; puppy pee pads can also come in handy for us kitties while we’re in our carriers because some of us get scared poopless when we travel, like my sister, Penny – also, check with the store you buy the carrier from ahead of time to see what their return policy is).

IMG195Horrible cat carriers are the cardboard ones, like the ones they give you at an animal shelter or rescue for temporary use to get your new kitty home. Just because we like to play and sleep in cardboard boxes doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for us to travel in one. I mean, heck, the couch is no match for us, why do you silly humans expect a cardboard box to withstand our destructive efforts of getting out of the darned things and killing everyone involved in making us travel in the first place? Now, on that note, I must say that some cats actually do like to travel (most of us don’t). For instance, I love going on short car rides (after an hour, 2 hours max, I’ve had enough). Car rides, to me, mean long stroller rides at the end of it or returning home from a stroller ride to go zipping around the house like a mad man. I’ve gone on fun outings often enough that I don’t associate my carrier with travelling any great distance or the vet. In any case, forget the cardboard carriers. Just don’t use them!

airlineapprovedmeshcarrierOther kinds of carrier have mesh windows (like the ones pictured). Some might think us kitties could easily break out of these. That might be true for some kitties in some mesh carriers. However, the mesh is generally tough enough that we can’t get out of them. Some of these types of carriers can be airline-approved. And while they have semi-rigid shells, they tend to be somewhat flexible to squish under an airline seat (and you bet that this squishing will probably make most of us a bit nervous). You can find these type of carriers at places like Pet Food Express, Wal-Mart, on Amazon.com, wayfair.com or wag.com.

Then there are the rigid, plastic types of carriers, some of which are also airline-approved. While the carriers with mesh windows typically come with some sort of soft bedding inside, these hard, plastic carriers don’t. So, to make them more comfortable for us, you’ll want to put some secure bedding on the bottom (which helps us feel more secure because we’re not sliding around as much – we can actually gain some traction around corners or over bumps, which makes travel a bit less stressful). These types of carriers are pretty safe to take us traveling in, although if we’re determined enough, we can break out of these, as well. Yes indeed, it has happened before. You know those little latches on the door? A smart cat can figure out how to work those! Don’t put anything past a highly motived, determined cat. These types of carriers you can find almost anywhere. Sometimes you can even find them at your local shelters – they occasionally sell them when they have too many (granted, that doesn’t happen a lot, but sometimes they get more of them donated than they know what to do with). And shelters typically sell them for less than you can find them at any store. Other places you can go are Pet Food Express, Target, Wal-Mart, or online.

sleepypod-outsidersRecently, I saw a video for a type of carrier called the Sleepypod. I’ve never tried one out before, but it’s an ingenious idea. It’s basically a really comfy bed you can turn into a carrier. And, in case you weren’t aware, the more we use our carrier as a bed or sleeping spot, the more we play around it, the more fun it is for us, the more likely we are to be less stressed out on trips. So, for any carrier you get or have, leave it out somewhere for your kitty to sleep in. We don’t normally associat one of our favorite sleeping spots or play spots with a trip to the vet or moving or travelling for the Holidays, so when you go somewhere with us in our bed, we’ll be more comfortable overall (that still doesn’t mean we won’t freak out).So if you decide to get something like a Sleepypod, be sure to leave it out as a bed for us to sleep in with the top of it right next to it or nearby. That way, we won’t associate the top coming out of storage with a trip in the car.

Here’s a video of the Sleepypod. I am in no way advertising for them or suggesting that this is the carrier for you, and I do apologize for the cheesy advertising aspect of the video, but I thought you might like to see how it works.

Until tomorrow when we talk about airlines. Yikes!

(P.S. There’s a cooler and, to me, more informative video about the Sleepypod here).