By Vicky Guy
When we think of a cat, independence usually comes to mind. Cats in the wild are excellent hunters and know how to protect themselves from the elements. They can even fend off most prey. Our domesticated furry friends on the other hand have grown to depend on us. They still exhibit their animal instincts inside, pouncing on a toy mouse or wrestling with their other animal friends. We provide them with their food, water, and place to use the bathroom.
Cats have also grown use to our companionship. They like to cuddle or sleep with us. Kneading and purring. Science is still unsure why cats display this behavior. I like to think its to show their love and affection. If you have been around cats long enough, you know each one has their own individual personality. You may also know cats can be pretty finicky or picky.
The cat is independent in the sense that they usually like affection on their own terms. Some cats only like one particular person and some love almost everybody. They sleep a lot and will often go hide away somewhere when they don’t want to be bothered. You can put food and water down and they go to the bathroom in a litter box. You don’t need to take them outside several times a day like a dog.
A big question and often one of controversy, is should you leave a cat home alone for days or even a week by themselves? The answer is not really a definite Yes or No. How long is too long? Most veterinarians agree, never to leave a cat alone for more than 36 hours without someone checking in on them.
In the past I didn't have an issue with checking in on a cat every other day. Really never had any incidents and the cats were always fine. I talked to other pet sitters who absolutely refused to do this. I thought maybe they were overreacting. That was until recently.
I was caring for these two cats. It was a 3 day sit, one visit a day. I would go in the mornings after I cared for my dog clients, so late morning. First day all was good. I came the 2nd day and found the 12 year old cat screaming in pain and she couldn't move her back legs. All with in an hour of finding her, contacting client, and getting to emergency vet, she had to be euthanized. Saddle thrombus was the diagnosis. Only 1 percent of cats that get this survive, I couldn't help but wonder how long she was in that state since the time I left the day before?
This was a one time a day visit but imagine if it were every other day. The cat would have been suffering much longer or I would have found her dead. In 14 years, I have never had to go through an experience like this with a clients pet. Clients were 1000 miles away, so that meant I stayed and held the kitty until her last breath. Absolutely heartbreaking.
I now have changed my policy because of this experience. Its quite possible this may never happen again. Its quite possible most cats would be fine with every other day visits. I personally just no longer feel comfortable doing this. When I go out of town now, I will also have someone check on my kitties everyday.
I think we have come a long way from the term “It’s just a cat!”. Cats for many years now, have become our companions and a big part of the family. Its true, they are generally lower maintenance and more independent than dogs but we need to realize that they still depend on us for most of their needs!