What happened when we took our cats on a beach vacation

Natalie B Compton

THE WASHINGTON POST – My wife and I are crazy cat people. Our phones are overflowing with pictures of our two felines, Jasper and Jezebel. We’ve spent thousands of dollars on their veterinary care. We even take them for walks. But we never considered bringing them on vacation – until this summer.

It wasn’t our initial plan. My family, including my six-year-old twin daughters, had decided to visit my brother in the Pacific Northwest, and, as usual, we were going to drop the cats off at my in-laws’ in Delaware. They’re the only people we trust to care for two fourteen-year-old felines who require a lot of attention – and almost as much medication. But they were unavailable, and we had already blocked out the week.

After nixing a staycation in Baltimore, we ultimately decided to head to the beach, a not-too-long drive that we figured Jasper and Jezebel could handle. The girls were especially excited, gleefully envisioning walking the cats on the sand, which they referred to as the world’s largest litter box.

Now we just had to find a vacation home that would take them.

Thirty-eight percent of owners bring their pets on vacation, a recent survey by PetFirst Insurance found.

Jasper makes a 1,000-piece puzzle even more difficult on the porch of the vacation home in Dewey Beach, Delaware. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

But the vast majority of these are dog owners 85 per cent vs just 21 per cent of people who travel with a cat, according to a survey by PetRelocation, a service that helps families travel with their pets.

Many websites advise against vacationing with your feline, and those that do recommend sedatives. All of this might explain why we immediately ran into trouble when searching for a place to stay.

After multiple rejections, a Vrbo owner said yes, and asked only for an additional USD30 per day pet fee. Finally, it was happening. We were taking our cats to the beach.

When we arrived at the vacation house – a small cottage with floral furnishings and a screened porch about a block from the beach – we immediately unloaded the kitties. Jasper, typically the more adventurous one, dove under the master bed and stayed there for a few hours. Jezebel made herself right at home, sauntering from room to room and peeping, as if to announce she had just discovered a cool new space. She finally settled on a twin bed in the other bedroom, rolled over and asked to have her belly rubbed. She seemed happier than she had been in months. I think she likes vacation, my wife said.

We were pleasantly surprised by how quickly our cats adjusted to vacation and how much they seemed to enjoy it. They certainly made the house feel more like a home. Our girls loved having them there as well. After all, who wants to vacation if you can’t bring the whole family

If I’ve inspired you to take the leap with your own cats, here are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure their flea medication and vaccinations are up to date (we packed Jasper’s and Jezebel’s rabies tags just to be safe). Bring along some items with their scent on it – cat beds, for example. If you’re worried about the furniture, trim your cats’ claws and take a scratching post. And don’t change things up too much pack the same food and litter you use at home. Finally, in case of an escape, make sure your kitty is microchipped and wears a collar.