Nani is our 15-year-old cat. We lost her brother four years ago. She was depressed for two years, but then improved. When the family is all gone at once, I have someone come in every day to check on Nani, change the litter, and feed her.
In December, we were gone for 13 days. Around day nine, she stopped eating and using her litter box. My friend couldn’t find her and thought she had died. Turns out, she was just hiding. Our vet says she was stressed, presumably by being alone. He said it was a good thing we got back when we did. There was also some inappropriate urination discovered later. What can we do to make it easier for her when we are gone the next time? Would pheromones help?
– Barb, Massapequa, New York
It can be difficult for any pet to be left alone for a few weeks, even with a pet sitter stopping by daily. Our pets often get sad when we’re away for any length of time. I once went on a two-week vacation and left my three cats with a pet sitter who stopped by twice daily to visit. While they had each other and about an hour of human companionship daily, my pet sitter noticed they seemed depressed after the first week. Since then, I have never left any of my pets at a kennel or in the home with a pet sitter for longer than a week.
Shorter vacations are not always possible, so I would recommend feline pheromones plugged in throughout the home to reduce her stress. But the real issue here is loneliness, and the only solution for that is companionship. You might consider adopting another cat or better yet, asking someone to house sit for you when you all are gone. Nani will do much better if someone is at home for part of the day.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal