Should I Board My Cat or Leave at Home?

Traveling always requires extra planning and preparation when you have pets in your home. Many cat owners prefer to leave their cats at home when they go on vacation, saving themselves the stress of caring for their pet while also sparing the cat unnecessary stress from traveling and adapting to new environments.

While cat owners can require less hands-on care than dogs or other pets when it comes to leaving them behind, your cat still requires thoughtful planning and consideration of their needs while you’ll be gone. To help you make decisions and plan your cat’s care when you’ll be out of town, we’ve pulled together answers to some common questions cat owners may have as they plan their next vacation.

Young woman and gray domestic cat at boarding facility for cats

Should I Board My Cat or Leave at Home?

In most cases, it’s fine to leave your cat at home if the home is secure and safe. The challenge with keeping your cat at home is finding someone to check on your cat regularly—which is a problem you don’t have when you decide to board your cat.

Although they can be more expensive than asking a friend to check on your cat, boarding facilities for cats are safe, reliable environments staffed by professionals. When you board, you can trust that your cat will be properly watered, fed, and cared for.

What Does it Cost to Board a Cat?

The cost for boarding a cat can vary based on your location and the type of boarding service you want, the national average for cat boarding is around $25 per night, with a broader price range between $15 and $45 per night. As you consider whether to board your cat, you might compare this cost to the cost of hiring a cat sitter or someone to visit your home daily.

By comparison, the amount of reliable care your cat receives at a boarder may make this option a better value for what you’re looking for.

How Long Can I Leave My Cat Alone at Home?

A common question among both cat owners and sitters is, “How often should a cat sitter visit?” Assuming your cat has a good supply of food and water, most vets agree that it’s okay to leave your cat home alone for up to 24 hours at a time. Any longer than that, and you should find someone who is able to come check on your cat regularly.

In addition to getting refills on their food and water, it’s also wise to check on your cat’s well-being to make sure they haven’t become injured or sick and haven’t gone missing from your home.

Do Cats Get Lonely When You Go on Vacation?

Like many other animals, cats are social and enjoy the presence of their owner and/or other cats. When you go on vacation and leave your cat alone, it can increase the risk that they’ll become lonely from the isolation—especially if you’re taking a long trip.

Common signs of cat loneliness include increased sleeping, aggression, destructive behavior, and increased vocalization. You might also discover that your cat is going to the bathroom outside of its litter box. If you notice these behavioral changes, it’s possible your cat is suffering from loneliness, potentially due to a recent vacation you took.

One simple way to prevent loneliness is to find a trusted friend or cat-sitter who will visit your home and give your cat some attention and interaction. Alternatively, a pet boarder may offer regular social interaction that reduces the risk of loneliness. A little social activity can go a long way toward maintaining your cat’s mental health while you’re out of town.

How to Keep Your Cat Happy While You’re Away

A few simple steps can set your cat up for a pleasant, happy experience while you’re on your vacation. In addition to making sure they’re well-supplied with food and water, see if you can find a sitter or someone to check on your cat at least once a day and ideally spend time with your cat to provide interaction that helps them avoid loneliness.

If your cat takes medications, you should also make sure your cat stays up to date with all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. You can also support their health and happiness by keeping them well-stocked with toys, fresh kitty litter, and safe spaces to hide when they’re scared or unsettled. This may be more likely to happen when you’re away from home and having other people visit to tend to your cat.

Where to Leave a Cat While on Vacations

Unless you have someone you trust to visit your cat or stay in your home, your best option is to find a licensed boarder that has space to accommodate your cat. In this environment, you can at least trust that their physical health needs will be met.

The best way to line up care for your cat during vacations is to plan ahead and give yourself time to find options. From sitter availability to kennel space at local boarders, early planning will maximize your options and help you line up the best possible option for your cat.