Holiday contingency planning is an important consideration for anyone thinking of getting a Maine coon. What you plan to do in terms of cat care whilst you are away from home largely depends on your individual circumstances.
The first thing that is important to note is that Maine coons in general are needier than other cats. They love interaction with humans and will form a strong bond with their chosen person (or persons). Even as adults they will dislike being left alone, even just during the day when you are at work. It is inevitable that during your time with your Maine coon that you might need to spend some time away from them. How you manage this is entirely up to you. Important things to consider are:
- How many cats you have?
- How old are your cats ( Kittens or adult)?
- Indoor or outdoor cat(s)?
- How long you will be away for?
With all of the above taken into account I hope that by the end of this article I can help you answer the question, can I leave my Maine coon home alone when I go on holiday?
How many cats do you have?
Maine coons do not cope well with being left alone. If human contact is not available then the next best thing is their fellow furry pals. If you own multiple cats and they are known to get on well then leaving them at home together should be just fine. They will provide stimulation for each other through play. Just be aware that should they decide to get up to mischief then you’ll have to deal with the devastation when you get home.
If you decide to put your cats into a cattery whilst you are away then there are options for them to board together. Having two cats or even three together is a viable option. If they are not in a room together then some catteries provide single rooms with cat flats allowing them to walk into the adjoining room so that they can spend time with familiar cats. Rooms for four or more cats are trickier so it may be a challenge to find somewhere that will be able to keep them all together. The question then is how you would split them up or if they would be better off just staying at home together.
How old are your coons?
Kittens should not be left alone for more than a few hours at a time. At this stage they are still learning so being left alone for extended periods of time will be confusing. You risk your coon growing up with a fear of abandonment. If you are going away on a trip then a Maine coon kitten should always either have someone stay with them or be put into a cattery.
Indoor or Outdoor Cat(s)
If you are going away for more than one day then this could be an important point to consider. Many Maine coons are kept as indoor cats anyway. Indoor cats will cope a lot better with being left at home than if they are used to going outdoors. Outdoor cats need to be offered the opportunity of going outside every day, or at least every other day. Keeping them cooped up inside will inevitably lead to them getting up to mischief. Letting them out will allow them to stretch their legs and burn some energy that was being pent up whilst they were inside the house.
How long are you going to be away for?
As mentioned previously, you shouldn’t be leaving a Maine coon kitten home alone for more than a few hours. The advice below relates to only adult Maine coons. If you have decided that a cattery is not for you and your coon then consider the following advice for leaving them at home.
Leaving them for 1 night
You would probably be fine leaving your cat(s) for one night without anyone checking in. For example, if you were going away at the weekend, leaving on the Saturday morning and returning on the Sunday evening. You wouldn’t want to be doing this on a regular basis but a one-off every now and then you’ll probably get away with. Just make sure that your coon has a plentiful supply of food and water and a nice clean litter tray. They may sulk a little when you get back but they will soon come running back to you and asking for attention and cuddles. At the end of the day, the decision to leave them completely alone for a night largely depends on the temperament of the individual animal.
Leaving them for 2-3 nights
If you are leaving your cat at home for more than one night then have a friend or relative, ideally someone that the cat knows, come in to visit once a day. Every other day might also be okay if they change up the timings, for example visit on Friday evening and then Sunday morning. Ideally you don’t want to leave the cat(s) completely alone for more than 36 hours at a time. During these visits they should have their food topped up, be given fresh water and have their litter tray tended to. Ideally you want these visits to last an hour or so, that way your coons get a decent amount of human interaction and attention. They’ll want a nice amount of cuddles and playtime before their caregiver leaves them alone again. Also, if you have a coon that goes outside then make sure they are given an opportunity to go out and stretch their legs.
Leaving your Maine coon for 3 or more nights
If you are going on a longer trip away (3+ Nights) then consider having someone come and house-sit whilst you are away. We had a relative who absolutely loved cats but was unable to have one at home. If we went away for a week or more then they would jump at the chance of staying for the week to house and cat-sit. The advantages of this are that you cat will have constant stimulation, be fed regularly and will be stopped if they start misbehaving and destroying the house. You’ll also have someone keeping your home safe and secure and to do other tasks like watering any houseplants you might have.
If you are unable to find someone to come and stay at your house then you really need to consider whether leaving your Maine coon at home is a viable option. Some may be just fine with a week of someone popping in for an hour at a time on a regular basis. Others will find being alone for such long periods of time really distressing and may become depressed while you are away. These feelings will then be reinforced every time you go away, even for short periods of time. If you feel your coon is at risk of this then a cattery is likely to be a better option. You may also consider having your coon stay with a friend or relative. If this is an option then consider how your coon may react to any pets or children that they might have in their home.
The advantages and disadvantages of leaving your Maine coon at home
Cats like their own space. They are most comfortable in surrounding they recognise. They have their own toys and cosy places they are used to. Coons who are used to staying indoors may not like being made to leave the house and stay somewhere else. Also, all cats including Maine coons sleep a lot so the amount of time they are awake and feeling lonely will be less than if a human was being left alone.
The disadvantage of leaving your coon at home when you are away is that they could get bored. Maine coons are very intelligent cats and therefore need a lot of stimulation. They love to have human contact. Leaving them alone for long periods of time risks them getting bored and this may result in them acting out. You may come home to find that the house is a bit of a mess! If you have multiple cats at home then they are more likely to keep each other well stimulated through play and so this may be less of an issue.
As mentioned previously the Maine coon breed love attention and are very needy. The impact of leaving them home alone is much greater than with other breeds of cat. Each cat will react differently but a lot of coons will feel anxious and depressed if left home alone for long periods of time.
You could trial leaving them alone for progressively longer periods of time to see how they get on with it. If you’ve planned a long trip then in the months leading up to it see how they cope with being left for one night, then two nights. If that’s gone badly then you’ll know that leaving them at home for a week just with people popping in is not going to be a viable option.
The advantages and disadvantages of taking them to cattery
Putting your coon(s) into a cattery during the time you are away will ensure that they get regular stimulation. They will be fed on a regular basis and have regular play time, grooming and cuddles by people who are experience in looking after cats.
The cost of a cattery can vary greatly. In the UK a good cattery can cost £5-15 per day but this will be or much more if you want your pet to live in luxury for the week. If you have more than one cat and want them to board together then the price increases significantly.
Your cat may not cope well with being away from their home. Staying in an unfamiliar place can be quite stressful for an animal. There are strange people, strange noises, strange smells and other animals around.
We are in a fortunate position where the breeder of our Kittens is not a fan of putting pedigree cats into a cattery. As a result they are allowing owners to bring the cats to them when they go on holiday and they will look after them while you are away. That way the cats get good care in a familiar place with a Maine coon expert. Have a chat with your breeder and see if they offer anything similar.
Automatic cat feeders
Automatic cat feeders have become quite popular these days. You could consider investing in an automatic cat feeder to ensure that your cat has a plentiful supply of food throughout the time that you are away. Just leaving them with a pile of food and hoping that they will know to ration it themselves is not going to work. Your cat doesn’t know you are going away or for how long therefore they won’t know to pace themselves with the food presented in front of them.
Automatic cat feeders come in two varieties, electronic and gravity. I’ll briefly explain the difference between the two.
Electronic cat feeders work on a timer and dispense a set amount of food to your cat. Some of them also have cameras so that you can keep an eye on your pet from your phone. Many also have a feature where you can make a voice recording which plays to your cat to tell them that it is meal time. Microchip recognition is also avoidable to ensure that your cat is getting a fair share of the food. Obviously with the more fancy features the feeder has, the more expensive they are. For a better idea of what is available visit this link to see some examples on Amazon.
Gravity pet feeders are much more simplistic. They can be described as a supply tower of dried pet food which is attached to a bowl. As your cat eats through the bowl of food, more will drop down from the supply tower to re-fill the bowl. A substantial amount can be kept in the supply tower so it is not likely that your coon will gorge themselves in the first 24 hours and then be left with nothing to eat. Click this link to see a good, inexpensive example of this.
Make sure your house is safe
It’s a good idea to do a quick audit of your house before you leave just to identify any potential hazards. Clear away anything your cat might be able to tangle themselves up in. Block off any areas they could get trapped in. Decide which rooms you want them to have access to. Obviously the more rooms they can go in, the more interesting the house will be fore them whilst you are away. Conversely that’s more places for them to potentially mess up or possibly come to harm in. Lock the cat flat so that other, foreign cats can’t get inside and terrorise your cats.
Pre-holiday grooming session
Make sure that you give your coon a good grooming session prior to you leaving for your trip. This will reduce the amount of fur on the carpet that you have to come home to. It will also reduce the risk of your coon’s fur becoming matted during the time you are away. If the claws are sharp then make sure you clip them as bored kitties will inevitably act out by scratching up the furniture.
So there are quite a lot of things to consider when you are a coon owner who is about to go on holiday. Rest assured that you are the best person to decide what is best for your cat. You know their personality and their quirks. At the end of the day you will know the best thing to do for your family, cats included. Don’t go worrying about what others have to say on the matter and make sure that you pamper your coon on your return!