AS people across Dorset head off for their summer holidays, a chief vet is advising cat owners on things they need to consider when leaving their pet at home.

Recent research by MedicAnimal has shown three-fifths (60%) of owners admitted feeling sad when leaving their pet at home when they go on holiday, with many concerned it can lead to issues such as anxiety and separation-related behavioural problems.

While the nature of dog ownership means it is likely owners would need to take their dog to a kennel, it is possible, with the correct plans in place that cats can be left at home alone.

Andrew Bucher, chief veterinary officer at MedicAnimal, said: “While cats are often seen as independent animals that can be left to fend for themselves, this is usually far from the truth. Cats are highly sociable and need lots of attention and support like any pet.

“If you’re going on holiday and are likely to be leaving your cat behind, it’s really important that you take their needs into consideration and ensure that whatever provision you make - whether it is a friend, neighbour or cattery – is sufficient to meet their everyday health and social needs.”

Andrew added the best option for those leaving their cats at home is to have a pet sitter or a trusted neighbour or friend visit daily to feed, water and socialise with their cat.

The frequency should match the usual feeding times and the visitor should monitor the cat’s litter for anything irregular.

“If the carer only pops in and out they may not have enough time to really observe how your cat is doing physically and emotionally,” he explained.

Andrew also recommends that pet owners do not underestimate their cat’s needs as “too many people view cats as low maintenance and do not hesitate to leave them on their own for sometimes up to four or five days.”

He said: “Cats are sociable animals and unexpectedly having an empty house can be quite confusing and cause anxiety.”

He added the next best choice was a boarding cattery.

“There are good ones, great ones and truly terrible ones. Make sure you visit beforehand and imagine it from your cat’s viewpoint.

“How does it smell? Are there loud noises? Do they provide hidey holes and places to climb up and view downwards? Is there enough room in the cage? I.e. enough to have a decent space between the litter tray and the food?

“Finally, does the cattery socialise and play with the cats and what type of environmental enrichment do they provide?

“Importantly, do they have access to an emergency veterinarian? Is it managed at night? What do they do to help anxious or stressed cats?”