In 2020, the overall pet cat population in the EU was estimated at around 110 million. Simultaneously, EU residents made 125 million business trips, representing 11 % of the total number of tourism trips. Although not everyone owns cats, whilst some households also might have more or less cats, business trips in the EU almost equal the cat population in the EU.
Whilst the childcare rate is almost as high as 91% for children age 3-6 years, at least in Germany, cat care statistics cannot be found. That is interesting, because according to the European Comission, at the start of 2019, there were 68 million children (aged less than 15 years) in the EU-27, compared to 110 million in cat population. It leaves me open with the question; What does happen with the average European cat during the owners’ business travel, similiar to a child?
Speaking from my experience in Germany, options are limited to asking a neighbour to check in or to take care of it, up to dropping off the cat at a pet shelter for a few days. There, cats are often times left in a cannel but yet, fet and not alone. Growing options seem to be online platform, where strange people on the internet offer to host cats, for a small fee or a large fee depending on their experiences as well as their rating. In other instances, cats could be left alone, whereby the perception is that unlike dogs “they are natural loners, so leaving them alone is okay.”
I believe that cats have a psyche with a seemingly cat-concious and are emotional beings that bond closely with their owner and should therefore not be left alone or with strangers. My argument for that is that cats respond closely to words “cues”, whilst their brain structure has similiarities to the human brain. For example the feline brain also has a brain stem, cerebellum with a hypothalamus and cerebrum, which all together and similiar to the human brain are important to process information, regulate and form memory. To me this gives hinsight into that cats can develop a conciousness into what they perceive as “safe and unsafe” and therefore form an identity or “stable sense of self” around their owner(s) uniquely. Perceiving the owner / environment as “safe/unsafe”.
“Ya you are my owner buddy, who feeds me, cares for me. You are safe and give me that safe space to return to. Let me purr of love now out. prrr prr prr. ”
It makes me believe that the owner has a regulating effect on the cat too, similiar to parents on their infants. For example, cats that might be left alone at home, start odoring, scratching or meowing in distress, whereby such behavior tends to decrease or stop with the return of the owner.
It’s time for a business travel, what now?
As pointed out at the beginning, there are millions of business travels and millions of cats, thereby bearing a million of questions what to do with the cat-pet during business travels, taking into account the cats psychic and emotional well-being. I asked myself the same and found myself in the situation, in which I could leave my cat alone for three days, or have my cat allergic friend take care of it (not an option), or have him drop of at the only free cat sitter without rating nearby. I decided to take him with me.
How does business travel with a cat feel like?
It’s been an incredible experience that so far I would do any time again, above the beforementioned. I would take my cat with me again, because it was beautiful not to travel alone and my favorite part was to have my cat around to practice a pitch that I was going to give at a chamber of commerce in Vienna. Before and after we could go on a walk, such as a city park and since I would have travelled alone and possibly felt lonely, I did not feel lonely and my cat did neither. I felt save, knowing it is safe emotionally.
Something that I felt was important was to test the concept of object permanence (meaning my cat knows that I come back in a strange hotel). I did so by closing the hotel door a bit, he started meowing, I waited 5 minutes and came back and extended that time for a few hours. This worked out well; knowing he’s at a strange place and that I come back. Also, this was important to me, so that the next day I’d have enough time for the pitch and the presentation without fearing a super loud meow in the hotel and him being scared.
Are there flaws in business travels with a cat?
I stayed at petfriendly hotel “Hotel Kunsthof” in Vienna and the staff was so kind to also consider my cat as a pet (next to dogs) too so that I could bring it with me for an extra 6 Euro cleaning fee. Looking back, I feel this is important to talk about before, because petfriendly hotels seem to be about dogs mainly. To have hotels accept that in the future, I recommend cat owners to clean up as much as possible such as by using a brush to remove cat hair. I recommend that too for public transportation, so that people with allergies enjoy taking the train and sitting there too.
What wishes do I have for business travels with cats in the future?
I would love if there were more cat friendly hotels that offer catboxes with cat litter, so that I don’t have to carry it in my backpack. I’d also book an extra service for someone certified to play or just sit with my cat inside while I am out, lets say after more then 5 hours. I am sure the last concept would be fantastic for dog owners too.
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Morning research on brain anatomy on clinical websites regarding human and cat anatomy as well as learnings from psycho(analytical) theory regarding “infant development studies, including aspects of object-permanence and emotional regulation in infants and children.”