Road trip update: What should we do with these cats?


This is Pollux, our Bengal cat. We would take him on our road trip if we could, but it’s just not practical.

Pollux isn’t the only cat who owns us. Two other Bengals, Clio and Lia, belong to our family, and we love them all dearly.

We had made arrangements to leave the feline members of our household with a relative, which would have been ideal, but they fell through last week.

Our road trip could take a whole year, and canceling our plans at this late date would be impossible. We have a sitter for the next few weeks, but beyond that, we don’t know what to do. Maybe you can help?

First, a little bit about these tigers: Bengals are highly intelligent and social. These three have been around young kids their entire lives and they thrive on the energy and chaos of our household.

Pollux is my constant companion during the day when everyone else is in school. He perches on my desk, makes few demands, and is an excellent listener. The two girls, Clio and Lia, prefer to sleep in the boys’ room during the day, but will occasionally wander into my work area to make some comment.

I will miss Pollux, Clio and Lio while I’m away. I may miss them more than anyone else in our family.

Even if you’re not a cat person, you probably know what it’s like to be separated from your best animal friends. It’s no fun.

Here are our options:

The kennel. Since the cats would spend most of the day in an enclosed balcony while we’re away, that has some appeal. At least they’d have some supervision and the attention of a vet, should they need it. The down side? Kennels are virtual prisons. Even the roomier “pet motels” only offer larger cages. We’ve used a kennel only during emergencies, and only for a week or less, in the past.

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The pet sitter. Having someone swing by the house once or twice a day is less expensive, but the cats would spend long periods of time alone. I think that’s unfair to them, taking them out of a highly social situation and then locking them in the balcony for weeks — maybe even months — at a time. It is far less expensive than a kennel, but it creates as many problems as it solves.


The house sitter. Again, it’s not a perfect solution. Housesitters live in your home 24/7, and while the cats would be happiest with this arrangement, there might be problems with the people. We’ve had some disastrous housesitters in the past, and are reluctant to go down that road again. But it might be the best thing for the kitties.

Adoption. It breaks my heart to even suggest this, but we could find the cats a new home. Couldn’t we just give them to someone temporarily? Well, let me tell you about the Siamese cat who owned our family when I was growing up. We had to return to the States for a year in 1975, so we found her a good temporary home. When we returned, the family refused to give her up. I know that if we found Pollux, Clio and Lia a new home, it would be for good.

This is one of the last pieces of the puzzle before we leave, and it is also the most difficult. I’m sure we’re not the only family to ever have this problem. But sometimes it feels that way.

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Update (Aug. 22): Looks like this one is going to have a happy ending! Yesterday evening, one of my readers contacted me and asked if she could help. Joyce lives less than a mile away and is a cat person. She stopped by late this afternoon, met our cats, and agreed to take Pollux, Clio and Lia while we were traveling.

As a backup plan, we have found a college student who will be living here while we’re gone. If Joyce’s cats don’t get along with ours, they can always come back.

It’s a perfect solution, and I’m so grateful to Joyce for the help. I’ll have a follow-up story with more details, and which is guaranteed to offend the pets-are-people crowd.

But it will be fun reading. Especially the comments.

Note: Uh-oh, looks like this post has gotten picked up by some extremist, pets-are-people-too discussion group. I’ve had to put this discussion into “moderated” in order to keep flames and four-letter-word tirades to a minimum. Just for the record, folks, these are cats we’re talking about here. Not children.


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • CatTech

    Post an ad with The Caretaker Gazette (www.caretaker.org). Get as many references as possible. They don’t necessarily need to be housesitting references if someone is doing this for the first time, but any type of character reference.

  • Larry

    Chris, I know Houston Tx is far from you but there is a kennel called Cat Nip Inn (catnipinn.com) I have left my cats there for an extended period of time and they love the place. The cats are out of their kernels all day playing with the other cats, having fun and socializing.

    Being a cat person I know what your going through. Over the years I have used house sitters, foster homes, pet sitters and regular kennels, this is by far the best solution.

  • Belinda Contague

    Honestly, taking a road trip like this sounds irresponsible.  When you adopted pets, you took on certain responsibilities.  This is why we have never owned a dog.  We travel (less now that the TSA exists).  You did this already in the past and didn’t learn from the experience and insisted on adopting more pets.  Shame on you. 

  • DAppel

    Big time cat person. >30 yes being owned by various cats possible solution. Several years ago I had 2 cats due within 2 months of each other (18 & 20 yes old) I missed my furry friends bur didn’t want to commit to a new relationship right away. My vet asked me to foster a cat one day & I took him for several weeks until we found a home. Then I fostered another (I eventually adopted one but that’s another story) Going into an arrangement knowing I was a Foster Mom made it easier when seperation time came. And i felt great knowing a cat wasnt stuck in a Kennel for long periods of time Maybe your vet knows someone on her/his client list that loves cats & that would welcome them into their home for the yr You would pay and they could send updates photos and video. Good luck.

  • Your comment made me laugh out loud. Cats are independent and have handled our travel schedule just fine until now. 

    But we’re normally gone one or two weeks at a time. This is different. Our plans to leave the cats with a relative fell through, sadly. We couldn’t imagine our kids growing up without pets — so no, I guess I have no shame.

  • Exitzero

    You forgot to add the most obvious category: Stay Home. These pets are YOUR responsibility, by taking them in you agreed to be responsible for the rest of their lives. You don’t get to toss them away because you would prefer other plans.

  • Yes, good point.

  • Cynthia Kruger

    You made a commitment to these cats for LIFE when you brought them into your household.  You are their family . . . you don’t just park family members in a “warehouse,” which is what a kennel or pet hotel is and you don’t just farm family out to sundry others because you want to go on a trip.  

    If you are that gung ho to take this very long extended trip then as far as I am concerned you should find them a loving home that will (presumably) take care of them for the rest of their lives.

    As I mentioned before . . . I have been traveling for a year and a half now, over 27,000 miles, with two feline companions in my truck/camper combo.  I am doing it this way because I made a commitment to my animals, to them for life.  Two years ago I was working on moving to Hawai’i and had the cats all pre-cleared to enter Hawai’i under the 5-days or less quarantine rules . . . then I realized that my oldest cat would suffer and possibly die due to the rigors of being transported that way.  So I gave up, for the foreseeable future, my move to the island of Hawai’i.  I did it for my cats . . . because I made a lifetime decision when I became their guardians.

    Sorry Chris . .  that’s how I see it.

  • GeorginaParr

    What’s the best option for the cats themselves? That needs to be the deciding factor, IMO.

  • doctork

    Take the cats along. Would you leave an unruly child or older parent with minor dementia at home? If I take short trips, the people who cut my lawn and fit things in the house know them. My cat knows these people. I  pay $10 or so for them to stop by for an hour or so each day.  But be careful. A dear friend who has a cat too tried to give my baby other food than the vet has instructed she eat.  A few other things also didn’t go just right.  My cat cries if put in the car just to go for a short ride, usually to the  Vet.  If I go visit one sister for a few hours (driving = 5 hrs too),
    she’d go along.   Will you give your children away. They are part of family.

  • Beth

    I wouldn’t give up on the temporary home option yet.  Anyone who loves their own pets should be able to give them back at the end of the year – even though they will miss them.  Try and look at it as a feline “exchange student” program!  Best of luck!

  • michelle_eris

    Have you thought about buying or renting a Class A RV and taking the cats with you and the rest of the family?

  • GeorginaParr

    Chris, you said, “Just for the record, folks, these are cats we’re talking about here. Not children.”

    They’re intelligent animals who have become accustomed to a way of life because you chose to give them that way of life. You’re in pretty much complete control of their lives. Now you want to force a major change on them. I know nothing is guaranteed in life; nothing is permanent. But this is a change you’re making by choice, not necessity. 

    And they will be the ones to suffer for it. You say you’ll “miss” them. Have you given any consideration as to how the cats will feel, suddenly thrust into a strange environment populated by strange people? Don’t you think they might “miss” you and your family just a little bit more than you’ll “miss” them? 

    Saying “these are cats we’re talking about here” says volumes about your priorities. By all means, take your trip. But first find the cats a new & loving home, preferably together since separating them would only put even more stress on them. Then, when you get back and decide you want more pets, please buy goldfish.

  • Donna Palen

    I agree with Cynthia Kruger in that you made a commitment to them.  I voted for the house sitter.  I wish I had a better clue to how long you are talking.  You CAN find a temporary home for them, and agree to pay ALL costs involved with them (food, medical should something happen, etc.) and have the foster home SIGN A FOSTER AGREEMENT, so by law the cats are still YOURS.  Housesitters can be a disaster, how are you screening them?

  • Yes, we’re working on that.

  • You make an excellent point. I think we’ll leave the kids here and take the cats. Problem solved.

  • I also have a cat and I always use a friend who has two cats and a dog and loves all animals. In fact, my cat is now considered one of her babies. She is a catsitter, but she also stays a while and interacts with my cat every day I am gone. He loves her. So my vote is for a catsitter and/or a combination pet/housesitter.  I also have a friend who is a pet/house sitter who is wonderful with all animals, gives pet meds and shots, and will travel to and live in your home if you pay his travel. I don’t know his schedule, but if you’d like me to connect you two, let me know. :)

  • Linda

    Shame on Glory! She obviously doesn’t have any compassion for your situation and chooses to belittle you instead. I do understand your predicament and am facing a similar situation in the future, although for only a month. I have 2 orange tabby cats and plan on doing a cross country trip. It’s not possible to take them, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’m hoping to find a foster home for the month. I have left them with a  pet sitter for 3 wks and they did fine, but I really don’t want to do that again. Good luck!

  • Donna Palen

    I just re-read your blog, and saw that it can be for a whole year!  Wow. What are you doing with the kids? (Had to ask.).  If you are traveling via camper or motor home, why can’t the cats come with you? 

  • GeorginaParr

    Thanks, I did make an excellent point. Unfortunately, I think you missed it. :)

  • Clara K. Showalter

    Bengals have some temperament requirements which don’t make them ideal road buddies. :) There’s a couple options to look at. Fostering is one, but that’s a bit tricky. Many rescues will require that you surrender the cats to them. Are these mutt Bengals or Bengals from a breeder? 

  • Kids are coming along (kidding about leaving them). They’re being homeschooled. Ideally, we would take everyone, of course.

    To all my friends who seem to be having some trouble telling the difference between people and animals … I’m trying to do the right thing for everyone — cats and people. 

    Did you want me to make this decision alone, without any feedback from you?

  • michelle_eris

    To reiterate what others have said, you made an obligation to these cats.  Although pets are not people, obligations to them are as sacrosanct as are obligations to people.

    By the way, what are you going to do about your children’s education during the year’s road trip?

  • Raven

    I voted Pet Sitter. Between my GF and I, we wound up with 5 cats. One is a diabetic. We have a professional pet sitter who comes in once a day and gives the shot, feeds them, cleans the box, brings in the mail, etc. Yes, it’s $25/day, but is it worth the peace of mind when we are both traveling.

  • Emmert 18

    Have you talked to the breeder? They may have a temporary foster situation, or a responsible rehoming option. Otherwise I would try the housesitter for a short time, just to see how it works out before a year long commitment.

  • Cynthia Kruger

    With us of course!  :)

    That said . . . I think Michelle made a good point about the Class A RV option.  In my travels I’ve seen many people with Class A’s and smaller with dogs and cats it seems to work out well for many of us.

    While I checked off “find them a new home” in the poll, the foster (with and agreement) arrangement might also work.

    As for cats as people . . . no of course not . . . but they are feeling beings who have become dependent upon you and your family to have all their needs physical and *emotional* met.  Our obligations to them are every bit as important as the ones we have to our kids.

  • Sweepergrl

    I respect what you’re saying. However, not all cats enjoy traveling. In fact, my former cat hated it so much that he would be sick for days from even a 3 hour car ride. The vet said it’s common and actually had me sedate him to ease the stress. Please appreciate how lucky you are that your cats are good travelers. Most of us don’t have that option.

  • Raven

    Afterthought…
    Maybe you could work out a deal with a petsitter for a reduced price. We did when our travel exceeded 30 days. Maybe even offer to mention them in your blog and see if you could work something out that way.

    Traveling with cats…I think cats bond to their environment too much to be happy when traveling. Plus, I maintain that the sound of Cat in Car should be recorded and used in aggressive interrogations…

  • Desertlyzard

    Chris,  I understand your point. to say because you travel you shouldn’t have pets would mean missing out a huge benefit for your family. I also have a cat that “helps’ me throughout the day by sitting on my desk. Bengals are not typical cats and need special love.  have you looked at any of the Bengal Cat broads for ideas of local sitters?  BengalTalk used to be a good board (disclaimer:no ties, and haven’t been out there for awhile).

    If you decide to try and take your cats with you, be sure to have a large pen for them when you are out of the RV for long periods of time to keep them safe from escaping when the family returns and the chaos of getting everyone/everything back inside is going on.

  • Cynthia Kruger

    Chris stated that they are being home-schooled.

  • Larry

    I have had cats for over 40 years including 5 years living full time in a bus conversion, the cats git to the point that if I left the door open they would sit at the top of the stairs and stair at me as if to scold me for not closing the door.
    The upside to traveling with them was they were my kids and I could be with them 24/7 except when I was at work, the downside I had to worry about the heat and cold when I was gone and if I was in a rural area I had to run the generator to control the temp.

    This last time I traveld I left them at the kennel I mentioned earlier and they love the place. It has a backup generator and I was told that if there is a thunder storm at night the caretaker will come down and stay with the cats and comfort them.

  • Matt

    We had a semi-similar situation.  My girlfriend has 2 cats and she had to move out of her apartment and into mine, which didn’t allow cats.  I still had almost a year left on my lease, so I couldn’t allow them to come to my place.  So, she got her parents to take them for a year.  After we moved to a new place that allowed cats, she took the cats back.  It worked out well for everyone. 

    My suggestion, find someone to take the cats for the time you’re away.  Make sure it’s clear it is only for a year, and it isn’t permanent.  Preferably with someone you know and trust (family or friend).  That way the cats are well taken care of and you get them back when you get home.

  • michelle_eris

    I see that now.  It wasn’t there when I wrote my question, though.  The vagaries of messages crossing in the mail…

  • You seem a bit surprised by the responses you’re getting, but I’m not. People tend to be of two minds when it comes to pets: either they are a commodity, or they’re not and that’s just ideological. 
    I am saddened by your predicament. I had a dog for 12 years and during that time turned down opportunities to live in Italy, India and even great opportunities stateside-because I had a dog. When I traveled, she had in home pet sitters who I knew cared for her as I did. She was my family and I would not have abandoned her, she was my commitment and how I treated her spoke as much about me as a person as my credit rating, work history or donation report. When you have a pet, your life changes- there is no hopping on a plane willy nilly or staying out all night. In the back of your mind there’s always the “I have someone waiting at home that is depending on me” and you act accordingly. My dog died this year, and before I adopt another dog, I’m taking 6 months and doing all the travel and staying out late I couldn’t before. 
    You said you couldn’t imagine your kids not experiencing pets. A valid argument: in all cases, pets tend to teach kids about taking care of another being, having compassion and some realistic experiences with death and coping. But you’re kind of washing all those benefits away with this action. 
    What kind of example are you setting for those children by making their pets dispensable? At best, leaving them for a year does not teach them about taking care of a pet, it teaches them that these relationships are disposable and abandonable. Your children understand reason, your pets do not and so up and leaving them suddenly will be quite upsetting for them and your children, as would breaking them up or putting them in a virtual prison like a kennel, as you point out.
    Traveling for a year is an amazing opportunity, to be sure. Just not an opportunity that your cats should pay the price for. In adopting these cats, you made a commitment, not just to these cats, but to your children in showing the right way to honor commitment. 
    If you cannot find a way to comfortably bring these cats with you on the road, then you should either find someone to live in your home for a year who genuinely will love those cats (I suggest a local vet tech, worked well for me) or cancel your trip. If that sounds drastic, then you’re not the person that I’d like to believe you are. 

  • Flyonpa

    I would attempt to Foster them out for a year, or re-home them. Taking 3 cats
    in a RV with 3 (small’ish) kids, you leave yourself wide open for them to escape
    out of the RV at some rest stop, or RV park. How long to you spend looking for
    them? Will they ever be found. If your foster/rehome them, the kids will know
    they are safe. not lost on the side of some interstate.

    Also when you park, you will need to keep the A/C running so you don’t bake
    the cats while you are off for the day. If you are visiting a city then what?
    Most RV’er park the RV outside the city somewhere and take public transit into
    city for few day staying in a hotel for a night or two. Who is going to
    watch/take care of the cats. then

  • michelle_eris

    “What kind of example are you setting for those children by making their pets dispensable?”

    You make a good point that I think needs a bit of amplification:  Depending on the ages of the children, if they see a parent getting rid of a pet, even if it’s by putting them into a foster home, they might think that the same thing could happen to them.

  • You raise some good points. I just asked my 9-year-old son how he feels about leaving the cats here. 

    “I feel bad,” he said. 

    I told him I did, too.

    What should we do with the cats? I asked. 

    (Bear in mind, the last time we were at the vet, we met a guy with two perfectly healthy cats who he was having euthanized. We asked him why. He said it was because he was moving. Both of us were very upset. Our cats are not disposable.)

    Aren said we need to find someone who loves cats, who can be with them in the house. I showed him the poll, which basically agreed with him.

    “Do you think we’re going to leave you alone in the house?”

    “No,” he laughed.

    At his young age, even Aren can tell the difference between a cat and a person. He knows you can’t treat them the same way.

    After our conversation, I’m reassured that we’re setting a good example for our children.

  • Margaret Walton

    Hi Chris, there is a site called Trusted Housesitters.  I haven’t used them, but ‘Married with Luggage’, a travelling couple (http://www.marriedwithluggage.com/), has recommended them.
    http://www.trustedhousesitters.com/

  • Joan Eisenstodt

    OY! A year! I couldn’t do it. We have two cats adopted from a shelter and leaving on a biz trip, knowing my spouse will be back by 6 p.m. daily, or when we both go away (which happens very infrequently .. mainly because I am a neurotic cat mother!) means I am miserable worrying about them.

    That said, we have neighbors who come in a few times a day, more on weekends, who spend time with the “girls.”  The girls are glad to see us when we do get home and are glad, when I’m gone, to see my spouse when he gets home at night.

    You are right – you can’t take them with you – cats who may not have traveled may be miserable on the trip. And as others have said, there are lots of accommodations to taking them.

    As many keep telling me, cats do just fine when they are alone for long periods of time. I vote housesitter. Perhaps a responsible local college student or other student whose parents you know who could also provide back up.

    Good luck. We all want to know the outcome. I share your anguish!

  • Actually, while sure that’s a risk, I wasn’t suggesting that your children will worry they’ll be seen as dispensable. What I was suggesting was that your children see, “you can reap the benefits of a relationship while shirking the responsibility when it becomes inconvenient”. I don’t care where in life you apply that formula, but it tends to be endemic in their generation anyways.

  • Matildakatt

    I think you have only two choices: take the cats on the trip or cancel the trip.  The cats are your children.  You would not place your human children in an orphanage for a year or hire a children sitter and you should not treat the cats any different.  When you decided to have children you accepted some restrictions on your lifestyle.  The same holds true when you let your cats into your life.

  • L2y2

    Chris, one more vote for a home-sitter or a one-year foster situation. To pass up an opportunity like this for your family because of the cats is unimaginable to me and a one-year road trip is not appropriate for cats. You would constantly be worrying about them and leaving them in an RV while you are away is not an option, unless you leave it running to keep the air on. Not! You are doing the right thing by making sure they have a warm, safe environment while you are away. I applaud you for that. Many people would just take them to a shelter and go on with their lives.  Good luck!!

  • Brooklyn

    I have just one dog (though I’d like more) because I travel and this way I can usually find friends to keep her for me.  Last fall, when I was in Germany for four months, I took her with me even though that meant ruling out most short-term housing – at first I paid a very high rent and later I had to climb 80 stairs (including the extra trips to walk the dog). When I can’t find someone to look after her and I can’t take her with me, I cancel the trip – and yes, it has happened. You’re going on a road trip, so presumably you could take them with you in an RV and if it doesn’t work out, cut your trip short or find another option (maybe your trip could include the boarding place in Texas that someone else mentioned). Yes, if you find the cats a temporary home you may not get them back, but that’s a chance you take and if it’s the best thing for the cats, then you should accept it as a lesson and learn from it: your lifestyle may not allow you to have pets and treat them ethically. If you have people who can watch the cats for just part of the year, then maybe that’s how long your trip will have to be.  There are many options, but giving them up for adoption should not be one of them; it’s unfair to the cats and sets a terrible example for the kids.

  • Chelseagirl98

    Frankly, unless it’s illness or something serious that’s causing your relative to back out at the last minute, leaving you high and dry, I would not deal with this person ever again!

    There is another option you haven’t mentioned: You must have some good friends who would be willing to take a cat into their home while you are away. You could give them to two or three people, so one person wouldn’t have to take care of all three of them. I can see the difficulty in traveling with three cats, but maybe you could take one cat with you? (assuming you are not going overseas).

    If giving them to friends won’t work, there are house-sitting Websites that check out the sitters for you, so you know you are getting someone reliable. 
    A kennel for a year–definitely not! And leaving them in the house doesn’t sound like a good solution either. A house-sitter would be much better. 

  • Clara K. Showalter

    For those saying, “cancel the trip”, I don’t believe that’s an option. Chris is a travel writer and this is a business trip. Additionally, if he’s talking about real Bengal/Bengal hybrid cats, sticking them in a RV is not an ideal situation for that particular breed. 

    Being a responsible pet guardian is about balancing the needs of the animal with the realities of the world we live in. Chris’s job has him potentially gone for a year. As part of that job, it’s reasonable and comfortable to bring the human part of the family with him. Being on the road with the 4 legged members of the family may not be reasonable. Not every cat likes being a road warrior. 

    Chris, I see that adoption hasn’t been talked about. I’m sure you’ve got readers who face some similar decisions, so I’ll talk about adoption. If you decide this is the best path, be aware of the potential issues. If you surrender your animals to a shelter, understand that best case the odds are good that your cats may be separated from each other in order to facilitate placement. Worst case, they may be humanely euthanized, even if they are healthy and adoptable. Cats over the age of 5 have a much harder time finding homes. Cats who have behavioral quirks also have challenges being placed. Surrendering cats during the summer months increases the difficulty of finding a new home for kitty. 

    If you are considering giving up a pet for adoption, talk to your local vet and research options in your area. Understand the pros and cons. 

  • Chelseagirl98

    Oh my god!! I truly hope something bad happens to that man who euthanized his cats. that is just appalling.

  • You love the cats?

    Get a house sitter.  Make sure your liability insurance is paid up, and it might be worth hiring someone to look in on the house while your gone — maybe a management company …

  • Jgodsey

    talk to your local no kill rescue shelter..they have networks of foster homes..you could make a donation to the group in exchange for long term boarding and care.  it would be cheaper and more friendly then a cage at a boarding facility. 

  • michelle_eris

    Thats why I wrote, “depending on the ages of the children”.  Chris’ nine-year-old can tell the difference, but what about a three-year-old child?

  • Ray

    Chris,

    This one is easy.

    Find the finest web-savvy “free range” type kennel in your area. or near the first couple of places you visit. Provide them with your hit numbers and offer them a link on your page and at least two positive columns if they take care of your cats in the way you want for free. Any smart kennel owner would jump at this kind of publicity.

    Betcha this is one column you wish ya didn’t write :-)

  • alex

    This was my thought. You asked last week “what to drive on the road trip” if this had been included I bet more people would have suggested an rv. Withthis info I would suggest one. If you wanted to stay in a hotel you could always park the rv with the cats in it for that time. (And visit them)

    And for the record, I plan vacations around my dog and took my handicapped dog everywhere too.

  • MichelleLV

    I’m thinking a contract is called for in whatever you decide to do or you might be repeating a 1975 incident.  Bengals are not only great cats, they are also expensive.   After a year someone might call abandonment and try not to return them. 

    I just can’t see kenneling being a good idea.   Seems more like a year long prison sentence for the cats.   These are cats, so they will be treated like cats even though they require a lot more activity than the standard house cat. 

    I would think a foster family familiar with the cats needs would be the best option.  

  • Maryannk

    That’s a tough one! I travel 3-4 weeks out of the year and a pet sitter has done just fine for me. But, your situation is obviously different. I know you’re hesitant to hire a house sitter, but I think that would be a great option. Get extensive references, have someone to periodically check on your sitter, put valuables in secure storage, etc. Remember, at the end of the day it’s just stuff. Kitties are more important than your stuff.

    As other readers have made it clear, it would be irresponsible to give up your pets at this point. By hiring a house sitter, you’re giving a human a place to live for a year and a temporary friend for your cats. I used to house sit for a professor in college for the summer and cared for three lovely cats. The arrangement worked out great for all involved. Why not give it another try?

  • CTP

    I am firmly in the “find a pet friendly house sitter” camp for two big reasons. 1. From your descriptions of your cats it sounds like they enjoy interaction with you and your family in a one on one type of situation. They certainly will miss you when you are no longer there, so providing some sort of comforting interaction would be a good thing for them. 2. With the sudden “loss” of their family, having the comfort of their familiar surroundings is a huge benefit for them. These two reasons are why many use Pet Sitters, but since you will be away for a whole year that becomes as you mentioned not practicable and too expensive. The human interaction periods for your socialized cats would be too short with a Pet Sitting service compared to having a live in house sitter.  True, it may be very hard to find a good house sitter, it is still the best choice, and will be worth the trouble. Sounds like there are some good suggestions here on where to find a good house sitter.  Good luck

  • BlondieDC

    Tough spot, Chris.  We have kitties and I was really missing them on night 12 of a 15 night cruise earlier this year.  I think if you could find a house sitter–a renter even, that would be the best.  Lock all your valuables up somewhere, and check in frequently via Skype.  Get tons of references.  Draw up a lease spelling out exactly what your expectations are.  Have the sitter pay utilities.  

    Or, go with the RV and take ’em with ya!

  • Lindaj

    Humans have lives you know and Chris’ job is all about traveling.  Not yo mention the education the children will be getting.  Lighten up!

  • Jen G.

    My vote is foster home or house sitter.  I own a pet sitting company and I believe that would not be a good option because of the length of time that you are gone.  That’s just too long for someone to be coming by for just 30-60 minutes once or twice a day, especially because your cats are so social.

    I think your best bet would be to try and find a home that would be willing to foster your cats for the year that you are gone.  Make sure to draft up a contract that states that the cats will be in their care for about a year, and that it’s a temporary arrangement.  That you will pay for their care – food, vet, etc, plus pay the foster home a sum of $X per month or whatever for their time.  Normally I wouldn’t recommend bringing cats out of their home environment but for a year, that’s enough of an adjustment period IMO to make it worth the transition.

    The other option is to have someone live at your home, but that would be more expensive, plus then you would have someone living at your house.  Perhaps as someone else mentioned you could rent your home out or work out a deal with someone where they are getting free rent + a monetary sum to take care of your house and your cats while you are gone.  I don’t know where you live, but maybe you could find a responsible adult going to school or doing residency, or something like that?

    I would worry about bringing them with you – some cats don’t like change, they might not like being cooped up in an RV, and I would worry about them getting out and escaping and being lost in some strange town.  It’s completely different then traveling with dogs…

    I would be quite annoyed at your relatives, by the way!  Do you have any other relatives, maybe even out of state, that could take them instead?  Maybe you could start your road trip by traveling to them.

  • Lindajordan

    Whoa!!  Definitely hardcore cat lovers commenting!  Basically Chris you should put your life on hold until your cats go to catnip heaven!!  Problem solved! ha  Seriously animal lovers, do you revolve your life around your pets?  That’s pretty sad if you do and miss out on what the world has to offer.  Take them (animals) with you when you can and leave them home when not convenient to travel. 

  • K.

    I think a concern for you is that you are looking at this as a one-year solution, when it is quite possible that you will continue traveling past the one-year point.  You may need to look at foster-to-adoption options with visitation rights.

  • Jennifer

    The adoption option breaks my heart too! My family doesn’t vacation together because of our 4 furballs…someone always stays home. I like it though…it’s peaceful just being with the cats :)

  • I asked the four-year-old and six-year-old. Amazingly, they also understand.

  • Tammy

    Who is presently watching your house? Houses don’t do well sitting with no one in them for a year either. They are often marked by thieves (who do notice that no one is home regularly.) Refrigerators don’t do well being off for a year. All sorts of maintenance issues come up.

    So, I guess I’m voting for finding someone to rent the place and take care of the cats. It is a win/win IF you are careful about finding the right person. They get a fully furnished place at (I assume) a really good price, and you get someone to take care of the place and the animals.

    Also, when you rent, you can hire a rent manager for a very reasonable cost. When we had to move and couldn’t sell our house, we hired a real estate agent in the area who took care of all the rental stuff. He found the people. He managed all the forms. He took in the rent. He arranged for maintenance. He was fully responsible (we were out of state), and he only took a small percentage of the rent each month. And, we’re by no means “rich” people. So, there are managers like this for the average person.

    BTW, last summer, while we were gone for 4 weeks taking our son to college, we had relatives watch our cat (and hamster) and take our dog to live with them temporarily. While we were gone, our dog passed away. Our relatives felt terrible, and I’ve felt terrible ever since as well, because I keep thinking that the dog thought we’d abandoned her. :-(

    So, just realize that no situation is perfect.

    Also, in the past (with the same house situation when we had to move out-of-state), we left our cats with one relative and our dog with another, because we had to move into an apartment.

    When we were finally able to move into a house again, a year had gone by. The dog came right up and moved back in with us. In the meantime, the cats and the other relative had fallen in love with each other, so we left them with her. So, I guess that I’m saying you can foster them out, and it may work out, or you may lose them. But, it can still be a good choice as well. After all, neither the cats or the relative were unhappy, and the dog had a great year with the other relative, and then ended up back with us and happy too.

  • VA Nancy

    I voted for house sitter.  One thing you might want to double check is your homeowner’s insurance policy.  When we had to temporarily relocate for a year, we learned our homeowner’s policy could be voided if the house was uninhabited for longer than 6 weeks.  
    Since I am a traveller, I get pet sitters – my independent cat prefers to stay in his own home.

  • Raven

    I seriously hope you found a new vet after that. Any vet that practices “elective” euthanasia should lose their license! There are plenty of other options for folks who can’t keep their pets!

  • Jennifer

    I think the house sitter sounds like the best idea for all involved. You
    still have time to look for a reputable one. Maybe have a trusted
    neighbor/friend check in on the sitter and kitties once in a while to
    make sure all is well. Like VA Nancy said, I do think cats are happier
    when they get to stay at home.

  • Anng83

    Cats are sensitive to their environment. Putting them in constant flux could be considered cruel.  If you are traveling in an RV, and that RV becomes their home, as is the case with one poster, that is different. They would adjust to that. But to load them in a car, and drag them from place to place for a year with no solid anchor or routine, is not in the best interest of the cats.

    Cats and human children are not the same.  Felines and humans have different cognitive reasoning abilities. I agree once we accept a pet into our home we have a responsibility for its welfare, but to treat them the same as humans is not recognizing the strengths and limitations of each breed.  (and yes, people do hire children sitters for a year… its called boarding school)

  • Liberalthinker27

    Chris,

    I would like to let you know that I fully understand your points about kids versus pets. We have three wonderful dogs who I love (as do my husband and kids) and four kids. When we have to be away due to hospital treatment for my husband or just for vacation we have this struggle as well. I usually have someone housesit and watch the dogs as well although I have friends or family members who know my animals do it. When my husband needs treatment we HAVE to go when we go on vacation yes it is a choice, but we have limited time when my husband is healthy and we use those opportunities to create memories for our kids.
    BTW, we also had two cats. My husband has severe lung damage due to the military which the cat hair was bothering and our youngest developed allergies to cats, so we had rehome them. You should have heard what people said about this! Including we made a choice to have the cats for life. Believe me, I loved the cats (I am a cat person) and would have kept them BUT I also made a choice to have children and a husband for life and when it came down to it, my human companions and responsibilities were more important. We actually lost a friend over this.
    I am sure whatever decision you make will be what is best for your family, your whole family. Although I will throw in the suggestion of finding someone who knows the animals and will be willing to return them after your trip. A close friend, family member, or someone willing to sign a legally binding agreement.

  • michelle_eris

    Good for them; that means you’ve raised them well.  I wonder whether my autistic 8-year-old grandson would understand.  I think I’ll have my daughter ask him.

  • Jebaker

    One thing you did not mention is the age of the cats.  If they are young, they need a lot of attention.  If they are older and spend a lot of time playing with each other, your options are better. 

    it’d way too long a time for a catsitter.  You can look for a homesitter, but you have to be very sure that this is a responsible person.This would be the ideal situation, of course.  Do you have any relatives who can take a shift and oversee/coordinate any of this while you are away?
    I think leaving them to be fostered is also risky.  Bengals are active and need to be entertained.  True cat lovers are going to bond over that time and those that aren’t true shouldn’t be taking care of them.  I think that taking them to a kennel is really not acceptable for cats over that period of time.  I would suggest asking the breeder if they can get some temporary homes or perhaps asking a reputable animal shelter.  Our local one here is PAWS and I am sure they would be able to at lease field your question.If that doesn’t work, I have to be frank.  They will adjust to another home and will be happy. They are adorable and I would consider taking one if they are not too bonded with each other to join my two.I understand how heartbroken you must be.  I gave up moving to Europe because at the time I could not bring my cat.  

  • Joyce

    I love cats.  I live close to you and would love to “board” your cats at my house along with my 2 cats.  I just sent you an e-mail.  Joyce

  • I know some folks in Orlando who might be willing to take care of your cats on a long-term basis.  I’ll put out some feelers.

  • Badbadbear

    Your animals LOVE you. You are their family. I’m kind of thinking you don’t deserve their love. You say “These are cats we’re talking about, not children”.To true animal lovers, their pets become their furry or feathered “children”.  If you can blithely consider giving away your pets you shouldn’t have got them in the first place. How ’bout your cats find YOU a new home? Better yet, how ’bout they stick YOU in a kennel for a year. 

  • Deb

    I love my Siamese and could never part with them. Are you sure you can’t take them with you? Cats can be great travelers once they get used to it! If I didn’t already have 2 rescue Siamese, I would take them! I have had Siamese for 57 years now. We got our first one when I was 1 yr old. :-)

  • AKT

    Weighing all pros and cons, if I were in your shoes, I would go for the house sitter(s). Try to find a cat-savvy young couple or family who could live in your home for free or almost free in exchange for caring for the cats. Tell them about the kennel in case of their own emergencies. Bring a few neighbors in the loop, should there be a need. Tell the sitters they have to email you once a day for a month and then twice a week after that telling you the cats are fine. Lock up all of your private/personal stuff in one room, give the rest of the space to the sitters and you are good to go. And if some small stuff doesn’t go as expected, those are marks of life.

  • Dave_D70

    What about breaking up the “year on the road” into approximately three-month segments – then come back home to unwind some before heading out on the next leg? Sure it’d be fun to spend a long time on the road, but after a while, being able to crawl into your own bed for a few nights in a row begins to look very good. Just an idea.

  • Nina149

    Each year I leave my 2 cats and have a cat sitter come in each day to feed and give them attention.   I leave for 1 to  3 months.     I know they get lonely but my cat sitter does sit with them for a while and they are still in their familiar surroundings and they have each other.
      I don’t think it is a perfect situation but at least they are not given away to someone strange they don’t know.  That in itself is extremely traumatizing.  I have taken one with me before and the other was extremely lonely so that did not work for us. Traveling with one is fine but three would be too much.  

  • Rae

    Chris, we have kitties as well. The past few years, we’ve opened our home to grad students who needed a place to live for the semester, and in return they kitty-sit for us as needed. It’s worked out well for us and the kitties, and we’ve had some high-maintenance ones (cats, not students!) over the years. 

    Have a great trip!!! 

  • AKT

    Trust me, he doesn’t mean it. :) He is just being thorough and listing all possibilities. 

  • AKT

    Ouch! The above reply got posted here in error and was intended for another post by Jennifer which said the adoption idea breaks her heart. Would have broken mine too, if I took it seriously. The above comment simply meant that anyone who is going through all this trouble is, IMHO, not seriously considering getting rid of the cats. For the record, I too vote for house-sitter. 

  • Dori

    What a tough decision to have to make. Short trips or even 2 or 3 weeks can be much easier for the kenneling or 2 visits a day cat sitter option. One year pretty much means a house sitter or a “foster family” set up. Have you considered looking into giving free rent to a person that does elder care. When my mother was ill in the last years of her life we had several caregivers from 2 different agencies and these people were fantastic and many do live in. Many caregivers (usually women) do not have permanent homes and might like a break from full time 24hour care giving but cannot afford a separate home on the wages they earn. Our last caregiver stayed on as a tenant in my mothers home as she liked having her own place for a while. Having an inexpensive place to live allowed her to work day jobs and actually have a day or two off once in a while. These people work hard and usually are kind, caring quiet types. If I was in your situation That is exactly the kind of person I would want to care for my kitty and my home.

  • You’re right! I’m going to go live in a kennel for a year to punish myself for this post.

  • Cat Lover

    You are a smart-assed hypocrite!!!

  • Crissy

    Many of you seem very critical and act as though these are children and not cats.  I’m not saying that cats aren’t important or have feelings but also the circumstances have changed. 

    First, Chris got the cats long before they decided to take this trip and I think we can all agree that life changes and we can’t plan for all situations or stop life incase something changes.

    Second, he had a plan for the cats to stay with a family member who likely knows the cats but that fell through and he’s already started traveling. 

    Instead of lecturing Chris why don’t you come up with solutions?

  • KaraJones

    Chris, My brother volunteers with a dog rescue group that gets homeless dogs adopted.  They go to shelters that normally “put down” the dogs and they save their lives by getting them from the shelter and instead, keeping them in foster homes during the week.  All the volunteers get together at a pet supply store on the weekend, bring all the foster dogs there and have adoptions.  Many get new adoptive homes and many go back to their foster families till the next weekend. 

    The reason I mention this (your cats are not homeless) is so that you do realize that there are actually people who enjoy being foster cat or dog parents.  So you may find wider options available if you call a local cat rescue group and ask them to refer you to people who might like to foster your cats.  (You should be able to find a rescue group online or call a local shelter to recommend one.)  People who do this are animal lovers and would be nice to your cats – plus your cats would have people and other animals around all day to keep them company and interact. 

    I think a pet sitter is also a reasonable option, but you have to have someone who likes to spend a lot of time physically interacting with the cats – not just feeding them, changing the litter and leaving.  Your cats sound like they like having social interaction.  Although being in their own home would be nice, if they were there without much interaction all day long for a year, I think they’d be very unhappy – and it would be very unfair to them.  My preferred choice would be for them to be in someone else’s home thriving with socialization. 

    And if you can’t find a suitable foster home, you really should consider finding a new loving permanent home for them – but if the cats are all buddies, I would only give them away together as a family to someone who can care for and love all of them. 

  • LarryB

    I’d go for either the catsitter or the housesitter option. Cats do reasonably well as long as they’re basic needs are met. If you have friends in the area, maybe you can arrange for one of them to come over and play with them every few days or so.

    An advantage to the housesitter option is that someone will actually be in the house, making it less attractive to thieves or even fake housesitters/renters/squatters. (Yes, this has happened.)

  • Grant

    Dear Joyce,

            I love YOU! When Chris first posted this, I expected he’d get dozens of offers to take care of his kitties… NOT. What is wrong with people? They’d rather lash out or pontificate instead of help. Note to Chris… I volunteer, too! I’m a retired 61-year-old man who shares his heart and home with 11 gloriously beautiful, healthy cats. They’re all strictly indoor kitties, too. Say the word if I can help.

            Grant & the (^;^)~’s. 

  • Fedor Pikus

    Chris, you should find a foster home. Look for people who foster cats often (local shelters have lists, these people often foster cats for shelters before a permanent home is found). Many people want to have cats but can’t make a long-term commitment at a given moment. I’d love if someone offered me cats for a year or two: I changed jobs and live separately from my family for a while, and kids refuse to part with either of our two cats. I can’t take a new cat permanently (he may not get along with our cats after the family is reunited) but I still want the company of cats. Look for someone with similar circumstances in your area, ought to be people whose life is in some long-term temporary state and they can’t take cats for life.

  • I would sure like to own one of these cute Bengal kittens. They seem to cost an arm and leg over here in Malaysia. Anyway, hope you choose the best for it.

  • Dizziej

    Chris, I am so sorry there are so many idiodic people out there!  I have 2 cats and a dog.  I love them dearly and none of them have ever been in a kennel. 

    However, I understand and feel for your situation!  I had the same thing happen to me in January.  My dog/house sitter backed out 2 weeks before we left for Mexico.  I was livid (and consequently my friendship with this person has suffered).  If I lived in Florida, I would take your kitties for you and give them back to you when you returned, however, I’m in Alberta, and don’t know how well they would survive a Canadian winter. 

    I like the ideas from the reasonable posters who have suggested an RV or fostering with a foster group.  I sincerely hope you are able to find a solution for Pollux and Clio and Lia that allows you to return to them in a year.  Plus, whatever you do, make sure you and the kids call them weekly, they like to hear the sound of our voices.

  • Andrea Elkins

    Chris said that the man was there to have the cats euth’d – he didn’t say that the vet. agreed to do it.  (I hope he didn’t!)

  • ACProductions

    I know the family care solution you originally had found did not work out.  But how about “extended” family?  Do you have an older person in your extended family, perhaps an honorary aunty or grammy, or someone from church or club, who might be willing (and honored) to care for your three smallest “kids” for the majority of the time you and your family are traveling?  They would thrive with the concentrated love and attention, and your caregiver would also receive a blessing of being able to help not only your babies, but their family, as well…  Good luck.  I know this is a wrenching situation for you!

  • Thanks, Joyce. I’m looking forward to seeing you this afternoon.

  • Andrea Elkins

    Aw, c’mon Chris, don’t stoop to their level…

  • kcmc

    This is very tricky. I have volunteered at animal shelters for years…so…I have seen lots of people give up pets for stupid reasons. But clearly, Chris is not one of those people. This post is proof that he’s trying to do the best for the cats.

    That said, I see both sides.

    On one hand: Pets aren’t children. But they ARE a responsibility — a big one that lasts more than a decade. They are totally dependent on their humans, and we made them that way. Therefore, I don’t have pets. I love to travel and want the option of taking long trips — and I know that having pets would entail sacrificing opportunities. I do understand wanting your kids to have pets growing up. We always had pets while I was growing up, and it made me a better person. But family trips were limited to three weeks “because of the doggies.” That taught me, as a child, an important lesson: If I wanted to be a globe-trotter, pets might not be a good idea.

    On the other hand: Woulda-coulda-shoulda is helping nobody here. Chris’s family has the cats. And clearly this is agonizing for them all. And this trip is part of Chris’s job –not just a family vacay. AND they made arrangements which, sadly, seem to have fallen through last-minute. I disagree with those who are suggesting working with a local no-kill shelter and the shelter’s foster network. Shelters are overwhelmed dealing with pets in life-or-death situations. Let’s just say that helping a family find fosters for some cats so they can go on a road trip would NOT be their priority.

    I think the house sitter route would be best. I’ve heard of graduate students doing this. They have a free place to live and a quiet place to do their work. And since they’re usually poor, they’re not exactly going to be jetting off on their own vacations. Another possibility might be using a home staging service. These companies supply vetted, expert house sitters to live in homes that are on the market for months at a time to make them look lived in. If it’s affordable (which it might not be), maybe you could pay one of their home stagers to stay at your place.

    Good luck!

  • Andrea Elkins

    Fosters are generally short-term options for cats who need a permanent home and would otherwise die or be put to death.  Most foster families have room for only 1-3 pets at a time.  If we take in an “owned” cat (or three!) for a year, that likely means we won’t be able to foster 8-12 other cats during the course of that year, possibly condemning them to death.

    Owned cats should be looked after in kennels, by petsitters, etc.  Owners have resources; pets with no homes have only shelters and fosters as a last resort. 

  • Andrea Elkins

    Housesitter is coming out the “people’s choice” by a 2:1 margin. Frankly, I’m surprised that, knowing as many people as you do, friends/family/acquaintances haven’t jumped out to assist.  I hope you find a solution that works fro everyone and keeps your extended family intact.

  • Flipper

    No four letter words, I promise.  However, yes, we are talking about cats, not children.  Cats are better than children.  You can get cats fixed, and they don’t reproduce and contribute to the overpopulation problem.  There are what… six or seven BILLION, yes, BILLION with a B, folx….. people in this world.  Children are no longer a good idea.

  • Lori

    When my husband and I relocated overseas for an undisclosed amount of time (turned out to be for 18 months) we offered our trustworthy housesitters a rent free house in exchange for taking care of our two cats, the garden, and making sure the house didn’t flood, burn down, or otherwise die. A young couple just starting out would jump at the chance to save their pennies for a down payment for their first home a year down the road.

  • Wow! I just read through the majority of these responses and I have to say that if you take this trip and the cats aren’t properly maintained in a manner in which this group of people agrees with, you may lose a considerable chunk of your reader-ship. Sad to say, but some people are quite agressive in their ideals.
    Whatever you do, you’re going to need to be careful on how you report the final outcome to your readers…

  • Tapestry413

    Do you have any single coworkers that could take on living at your place? I used to do this for a friend for short periods. It was great for me and for the pets. The hardest part was for me to get used to sleeping with the golden retriever. He didn’t understand when it was time to sleep.

  • ButMadNNW

    I did something similar when I moved from Minnesota back to California. I didn’t want to subject my two cats to three days in the car, so I left them with my Minnesota roommates while I went ahead and got settled in. I then flew back two months later to attend an event and pick up my furboys.
     
    So during those two months, they were in a familiar environment with familiar people that I knew would take good care of them. This isn’t possible for everyone, but it worked pretty much ideally for us.
     
    Chris, glad to hear you found a solution!

  • jennj99738

    Yikes, it seems that people comment on posts that they don’t even finish reading.  Joyce, you’re an angel for helping Chris out.  Chris, I’m sorry you got bombarded by animal extremists who call themselves guardians instead of owners, who would rather beat the heck out you instead of offering legitimate solutions. 

    To all of you who believe this way:  There are no perfect people out there, only those of us who do the best we can.  If every pet owner had to be perfect, there would be even more animals killed in shelters around the country every day.  Us imperfect owners love our pets as family, too, but understand that we have responsibilities and commitments to our human families and friends also that sometimes can’t involve our wonderful companion animals.

  • jennj99738

    What exactly was hypocritical about Chris’ response to that post?

  • AKRaven

    Thank you Joyce!  If Pollux’s expression in the photo above is any indication it looks like you are in for a very interesting year.  He seems to have quite the personality.  As for the comments of many others – Chris IS being a responsible, loving pet parent and clearly has been thinking about the options with the cat’s interests in mind. That is the best thing any parent can do – make decisions based on what is best for the child (human or furry).  Having taken my pets (including cats) with me on long distance trips across the country several times I can tell you they vastly prefer staying at home. It’s also safer as you don’t have to worry what will happen if they get outside (even on leashes accidents can scare them out of the leash/harness) in a strange environment.  In one situation, I had an owl actually try to pick up one of my cats while we were out for a bit of a stroll in a campground.  Now when I travel I have a pet-sitter come in to feed/medicate my cats and friends stop by regularly to give attention and loving. My dog goes to day care during the day where she is also able to be boarded. She loves it there so, for her, it’s just an extension of play time. For my furry kids this is the best for all of us and I can travel knowing they are safe, comfortable, and enjoying life.  It sounds like Chris and his human family are now doing the same thanks to Joyce.  Is this the right choice for everyone?  No. But then there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to caring for humans either. 

  • sa

    I’m glad you have found a solution, and the kitties will be well taken care of.

    But I’d take cats over kids any day.  Seriously.

  • If you lived closer to the Gulf Coast, we would keep them for you.  We do a lot of back and forth petsitting with a few trusted friends and family.  It has worked well for many years, we all travel easier knowing our pets are cared for by people who love them. 

    How fantastic that you found a reader who could help out.  Joyce sounds like an angel.

    On a related (albeit slightly morbid) note . . . make sure you always have clear directions in your will for the care and re-homing of any pets you may have.  We have ended up with more than one critter over the years whose owner passed with no backup home for the animal.  Otherwise they end up at the shelter.

  • margalit francus

    So glad you found a solution!
    Looking forward to reading updates about your trip.

  • OMG! This is almost as controversial as the “Peanut Rule”!

    None of our cats has ever been enamored of road trips.  A reliable, live-in, house and cat-sitter has been the best option for us when away for a month or so.  The second best option has been a great boarding facility (which since July is an even a shorter “road trip” from our house) where the cats get to mingle (it’s no one cat’s “home turf”, so they all get along great).

    Whatever option you choose, have a great trip and don’t forget to blog about it!

  • KaraJones

    Wow! Thought I’d check in and see what was new on this thread.  I’m so happy to read that you not only found someone wonderful to take care of your cats but that she lives so close by!  And you got a house-sitter, too, who can share the love!  When it rains, it pours.  Having a blog paid off! Have a great trip, Chris!

  • I agree. I love my readers! I’m very grateful for all the suggestions and the offers of help. 

  • Chris,
    I’m on the side that views you as a responsible cat parent.  If I was going on the road for a year, I might find other homes for David Litterman (funny but no TV show) and Greta. As it is, I have a cat sitter come once a day when I’m traveling, and I now have a Dropcam that is positioned with a view of my bed where they typically sleep. I’d suggest you get some sort of cat cam so you can check on your kitties while you’re away.  I reviewed the Dropcam for Chicago Tribune Gearbox.  It’s amazing how much comfort I get from checking on my kitties when I’m away. I even opted for the $8.95 monthly subscription so I can see recorded events.  Please plan a stop in Los Angeles so I can show off some of Santa Monica.

  • Jim Zakany

    “Toss them away” wasn’t one of the options.

  • Dave_D70

    I can still remember the cat that lived with us and how he behaved on the 8 1/2 hour trips up to the cabin – you could tell that he was clearly uncomfortable (his meowing came out like “MA-OH!!!”) and when his paws came in contact with any of our legs in the backseat, they were clearly warm to the touch… eventually we just decided to leave the cat home, have someone look in on him, and make sure he had food and water. (he has long since moved on to the big field of catnip in the sky)

  • Grant

    David…… ‘Litterman’?  Really?!  God, I love cat people. Thanks for the smile, Terry.  :-)

  • MominAmarillo

    I am an avid dog fan…and understand the posters’ (somewhat…but some of them..wowee you guys need a life) comments about not “tossing them out.”  I’m fairly sure that Chris isn’t going to dump these animals on of the side of the road…right?  I mean he’s not scouting dump locations, he’s asking for OPINIONS.  My choice would be a housesitter/pet sitter…for two reasons.. #1, it blows for your kids to have to give up their pets for an extended vacation, and #2, a housesitter can ensure that your water lines don’t break and flood your house, you don’t get robbed, etc.  So…there’s my OPINION…but at the end of the day it’s YOUR choice…you mean old cat tosser ! :-)

  • Cheryl

    I think having someone in your home to watch both the cats and your home is the best solution.  Of course you need to trust that person.  Having a friend take the cats would be my second option as it will probably be real hard to give them back and your cats might not want to be back.  They could potentially shred the furniture and pee on rugs, shoes and other household things. 

  • Woozster

    As an event coordinator I deal with “service animals” all the time. Sometimes I question whether they are necessary at a public event held in an auditorium.  This has gone too far and anyone can buy a coat denoting a service animal on the internet.  People get really really defensive when they are questioned.

  • et

    I agree with Linda, shame on GLory.  No one loves their pets more than me and I think you are be a responsible pet parent in find them the best alternative when you’re not their.  I drive all the way from Miss Coast to Wisconsin yearly for my dogs vacation.  lighten up people.   

  • Patrick

    Sounds like wonderful pets.  I feel your pain.  With one almost feral cat, a rescue pom and two kerry blue terriers, I feel your dilemma and pain.  The kerries are conformation so do leave for weekends.  I try to travel with them  and turn them over to handlers.  I cannot stay for ring time since she is so attached she will spend her time looking for me even if it is by voice.  The boy is “who me?” kind of dog.  Yes we are all attached (except the cat who associates me with the dogs).  Yes I am their alpha and am responsible much like a parent of children but they are not human.  i have finally convinced my wife they will do fine without us for a week or so and will be more humble when reunited.  It so bad that if I am going to be away for a month and she is not traveling she has had me take the kerries back to the breeder so she is not responsible for two very expensive animals.  Perhaps the breeder might like them for a few weeks.

    As for the flamers….  Sounds like PETA or ASPCA adherents.  They loose sight of the fact the animals are not human and do not think like we do.  Animals think mostly in the moment.  SO your are there or not there.  This is not abuse.  We do not abuse the animals so flamers stay home with your opinions about animal and keep your fingers off of keyboards. 

    Have a wonderful year.  Your bengals will also with Joyce.

  • R J

    You crazy cat people are why people think cat people are crazy.  

  • Accuracyplease

    Cats rule.  No matter who takes them.  They’ll miss you and ignore you for a while upon your return…then forgive you.  ;)

  • Accuracyplease

    Military people are also frequently away for a year at a clip.  Their families wait.  Hire a pet setter.  But call in so they can hear your voice sometimes.  (I’m serious.  And a cat and dog person.)  :)

  • Kathiecoull

    Hi Chris, I’m with the pet sitter crowd. We’re back in the USA now after 14 years in Mexico. And that’s the point of this email. There was always a  supply of house sitters available in our community! Some people literally didn’t have ‘homes’ but lived pemanently in the houses they were house/pet sitting. (And sometimes those houses were virtual palaces, hundreds of square feet, pools, maids, gardeners, etc.) Some of the sitters would live a year or more, rent free, and getting paid, in the houses.
    Sometimes, expecially around the holidays, the community would run out of house/pet sitters and everyone would sit around and bite their nails, hoping something would turn up. Usually it did.
    Ours was a community built and running on gossip, so we all knew about everybody: the good, the bad and the ugly. 90% of the time it was good, and problems were reported immediately, via the gossip trail. We always had good house/pet sitters. Nothing was ever stolen or broken.
    We didn’t have a college near us, but a college kid looking for money is always a good idea, but check his/her references carefully. Call the Mom or Dad. Check with profs, and his/her friends.
    And your cat in the photo is absolutely gorgeous!
    It sounds as if you’ve lucked out with your two responders. Keep us updated.

  • Kathiecoull

    Dear Glory Mooncalled, Get real, Woman. This is what Chris does for A LIVING!

  • Kathiecoull

    Exit Zero: Ditto my response to Glory Mooncalled.

  • Kathiecoull

    Dear Chris, Boy, am I mouthy today! No, cats and dogs and whatever other critters you’ve got are definitly not disposable. You and your wife are excellent parents; you’ve raised a good tribe. Congratulations.
    That was one of our main problems in returning to the US. What would we do with the critters?
    Finally, after the movers had come, packed up what we wanted and took it away, had the ultimate garage sale and gotten rid of what we weren’t bringing with us, it was the day to go.
    We have a Chrysler mini van, with seating for seven, so its interior is fairly large. The first leg of the trip was bringing 3 of the dogs out of Mexico to Georgia. We got here in 3 days. My husband rested one night, and returned to Mexico to bring the cats. He rested one night with friends in Mexico and started the drive back with the cats. He left very early in the morning and arrived back at our house with the last dog and the cats. He got here about 7 PM Christmas Day.
    It was extremely successful, a happy ending to what could have been a disaster.
    And yes, the guy who had his cats euthanized: I hope he can live with himself. We had a crazy lady in our community who had all her critters euthanized because she had to ‘move back to Canada.’
    A plague on all their houses. Feh!
     

  • Rachel Connors

    Actually the cats are his cats and his children are his children.

  • Andrew

    And setup a webcam so you can watch them from wherever you are.

  • Lee Bice

    I like that you care so much about your pets. We have a pet sitter who has taken care of our cats when we are away, even overnight for several years. She is attentive, fun, and they look forward to her visits twice a day.
    We live in on the gulf coast in Florida. Our second choice would be a kennel at our vets, because there might be a need to evacuate the area where I live, and our vet is on high ground. Our pet sitter would evacuate the cats if needed.

  • toniv

    It’s funny; if you’d posted about how you were sending the kids to boarding school for a year — a good little place with loving folks, plenty of food and water and a place to run and play — you’d have gotten far fewer and less angry responses, I think. 

  • toniv

    No, sorry, Chris’ obligations to his cats are not as important as are the ones to his kids. I’m not ever going to agree with that. Ever. 

  • toniv

    Nope, obligations to his cats are not as sacred as obligations to people, especially children. They’re just not. That’s why we don’t have courts with court-appointed advocates for pets to sue irresponsible owners, nor should we!

  • toniv

    And how is the goldfish any different, given your value system? It’s not.

  • toniv

    No, the cats are not his children. They are not even “like” his children. He did not give birth to nor marry the cats. They are his pets, yes, and he owes them responsible ownership, stewardship if you will. But he does not owe them so much that he can saboutage professional and personal opportunities for himself and his family in service to your idea of what constitutes “responsible” ownership. Do not compare pets to children. 

  • toniv

    I feel for you losing friends over having to “rehome” your cats. I can’t imagine why anyone would question this. What were you supposed to do…get rid of the husband? Give him medicine (if there was any) that he wouldn’t otherwise need and which might have harmful interactions with his illness or other medicines and long-term effects you can’t know? My GOSH! And it’s not like you had them killed or dropped them off on the side of the road. I can tell you this: If I’d had a pet when I brought my son home from the hospital, and that pet had even looked CROSS-EYED at my baby, the pet would be GONE! If lucky, “rehomed.” But GONE! There’s a boundary, people. This woman’s husband’s health was hers. 

  • toniv

    No, lots of “true” animal lovers understand the pet/people boundary. Frankly, no human deserves the love of an animal. Pets and people, pets and KIDS, are just not the SAME, nor is our love for them “the same.” To compare pets to kids is very, very offensive. Very.

  • Dujnsu

    I had the exact same problem. I have 3 cats and we were planning on a RTW hoping my mother would take care of them. She did not agree and we have nobody else to ask. My cats are too important to me to consider any of the options given above. So, in the end, we convinced my mother to take care of one of them. The other two are coming with us, but instead of a rtw, we are moving to another country were we will learn about a new culture, volunteer, have new experiences anyway and so we chose to “go deep instead of wide”. I think this way we have reached a compromise, my cats will be happy, and so will the two of us. We are very exited about our trip!

  • Severnwatcher

    God, what would this guy do if he found out I have taken trips without my children?

    Actually, he probably wouldn’t be as offended, LOL

  • I have 4 kitties and have had as many as 9 for short periods of time because I do cat rescue. I had 3 after David Died from heart failure but then I gave my black rescue away and adopted another. Then I found a very tiny baby kitty. Too bad you’re not closer to me – I am in NYC. I find craigslist helpful for my adoptions after you seed  through the crazies. I’d love a short vacation in Texas but not  a year.
    Hey how is the 99 % doing there?

  • Jmevans99

    He isn’t “tossing them away” as you so crudely put it.  He IS being responsible by finding the best solution for them.  These are cats….not human children.  Cats don’t “need” certain people like children do.  He has found an ideal solution….except for the lady who so kindly is taking them for him.  She’s going to miss them when they are gone.  Also, the cats will have each other since they are all going to the same place.

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