For me, one of the most stressful times about owning pets is leaving for vacation. I don't worry about them being alone as they have each other to keep themselves company, but I worry about health issues especially in the older cats we have. We do not put them in a boarding kennel for a multitude of reasons. First of all, taking 6 cats in carriers all in the same car is laughable! Second, cats are generally unhappy and stressed in any environment outside their normal routine. For those reasons and others, I have always hired a pet sitter to come to the house daily to care for them and keep an eye on the house. Fortunately, my pet sitters are usually good friends so I don't have the extra worry of having a stranger in my house. Despite this luxury, I still have anxiety.
Several years ago I had planned a trip to Florida with my brother. I had asked a friend to check on the cats and thought I had all the details in place. A word of advice, always confirm your dates with your pet sitter! When I arrived home, I was immediately worried when the paper was on the front door step as she always brought in the paper and the mail while I was gone. I got inside and the cats were unusually happy to see me. I went into the room where their food was kept and their bowls were completely empty. I had recently been to a veterinary meeting so there were bags on the floor that had bisquits and food samples all of which had been ripped open and eaten. I kept their food in a metal tin of which they somehow managed to get the lid off. They still had water since I had put an extra bowl of water down before I left. I called my pet sitter and it was obvious we hadn't confirmed as she had other dates in mind. It was a horrible feeling knowing that their welfare was compromised and something much worse could have resulted.
Fortunately, cats are clever creatures and survivors. To this day, cats continue to amaze me with their abilities to survive in this world. There are many cat stories of survival that sometimes are beyond belief. I have seen some of those cats in practice and continue to be stunned at what they can survive. Cats deserve way more credit than people give them. For now, I need to call my pet sitter and confirm dates for my upcoming vacation. Hoping for happy, well fed cats when we return!