I am a self-identified crazy cat lady, although no, I don’t live alone with my cat. So, for me one of the hardest parts of travel is leaving my pet behind. I’m sure my cat, Sherlock, has severe separation anxiety. Every time I return from a trip, he follows me through the entire house – bathroom included. Despite his anxiety, I miss him like crazy whenever I’m gone and encountering pets abroad delights me. Which is why I chose to spend two weeks with a woman in Perugia who owned five cats.
Now, my first summer in Italy, I stayed with a family that had two cats. They were adorable and friendly and scratched at the plush Persian rugs in every room (read more about that host family here). It was honestly a relief. While Italians might not be as pet crazy as we Americans, you can still find a furry buddy to cuddle up with.
Well, as it turns out, two cats is way different than five cats. Especially when they’re someone else’s cats…
The Crazy Cat Lady
Maria met me at the top of the steep and terrifying stairs leading into her walk-up apartment. Luckily for me, everything in Perugia is steep and terrifying so it wasn’t that daunting. As she stood there in her see-through house dress with one cat in her arms, another winding around her ankles, and a third trying to kill me on the stairs, I realized that I might have made a mistake.
The apartment itself, so gorgeous and centrally located, should have made up for living with a certified cat lady for two weeks. And in many ways, it truly wasn’t that bad. The cats were loud and annoying and unacquainted with the concept of personal space, but I didn’t spend all that much time in the apartment. However, there were a few things that added “lodging with five cats” to my reverse bucket list.
Lodging with 5 Cats: the ins and outs
- The cats were impossibly spoiled. Maria let them do literally whatever they wanted and expected me to do the same.
- Boundaries were non-existent. Just as the cats did whatever they wanted, they went wherever they wanted. Including: my room, my suitcase, and my lap while I was on the toilet because they climbed in through the bathroom window.
- The cat hair was everywhere.
- Maria fed them wet food, which made both the kitchen and the litter box smell.
- Finally, having five cats in a two bedroom apartment is crazy.
So. Pets are awesome, but your own pets are always more awesome than other people’s pets. Of course, I encourage staying with locals when you go abroad (sites like Airbnb and Clickstay are fantastic resources). But maybe consider your tolerance for animals and ask yourself if it extends to five cats. Turns out, mine doesn’t.