Plant Shutdown Survival Guide - PETS AND HOUSE

Part 5 in a series.

Now we're going to plan for caring for your critters and prepping your lawn / home elevation while you're at the plant for long hours.  

You've met these characters before: Tony and Squeakers

I have three cats.  The fuzz is pretty self-sufficient - as long as there's food, water, and clean litter.   I just brace myself for the feline reaming out that I will inevitably take every night.

  1. INVENTORY FOOD / LITTER / TREATS.  Add to shopping list as needed.
  2. EXTRA LITTER BOX. Because you have no idea when you'll be home, and potentially be a zombie when you get home.  Cleaning the litter box is one of those things likely to slip your mind.  Be prepared with an extra box at the ready.  Try the Cats' Pride Kat Kit - it's a disposable litter box that comes prefilled with non-scooping type litter.
  3. EXTRA WATER / FOOD BOWLS.  I don't know about your cats, but my cats stress out when I'm working long hours.  So they eat and drink more.  Have an extra water bowl and filled food bowl ready for them.


Don't let this happen to you!  Photo credit: Pinterest
My family doesn't have dogs at the present, but many of my coworkers do:

  1. KENNEL / PUPPY HOTEL.  If you do not have family in the area or your dog is very attached to you, consider boarding it for the duration. 
  2. ARRANGE FOR A PET SITTER or DOG WALKER.  Or, if your shutdown is going to be in excess of a week or two, then arrange for a pet sitter or dog walker to pop in on a regular basis.  Especially important if your dog takes regular medication.
  3. INVENTORY FOOD / TREATS.  Add to shopping list as needed.  Maybe plan to make a few frozen peanut butter filled Kongs for your big and/or active doggies.
  4. EXTRA WATER / FOOD BOWLS.  Reference comment about my cats.

Nope, not my house.  Photo credit: Rob Rice Homes


If you have a house, I hope you don't have an HOA.  If you do, I hope your HOA is kind.  (Unlikely, right?)  To keep the lawn police off your case, you have to plan ahead.

  1. ARRANGE FOR LAWN MOWING.  This could involve retaining the neighbor's kid for a fee or signing a short term contract with a lawn maintenance company.  Whatever it takes to get this task out of the way for the time you will be unavailable.
  2. GET YOUR LAWN CHORES DONE the weekend before.  Mow one last time, edge the frontage, trim bushes, pull weeds. Deadhead flowers.  MULCH.  Mulch saves your hide in weed prevention.  A good heavy mulch can keep weeds out of the garden for weeks!
  3. SPRINKLERS ON TIMERS (summer only). Did you know you can put your spigot on a timer?  Check these out.  Install a timer on your hose spigot and automate your lawn watering.  Just make sure to turn it off if there is threat of rain (then you have the local water authority on your case, and you have bigger problems than the HOA).


From the street, your home should look like you're still there (just like planning for a real vacation).  If you live alone, make sure that you set timers for lights. 

  1. ARRANGE FOR TRASH DAY.  Ask the neighbors to kindly move your trash can / recycling bin out of sight after pickup.   
  2. WINTER WEATHER.  Have the snow shovel and ice melter at the ready. 
  3. DÉCOR.  Get your seasonal décor out, but keep it down to a dull roar.  No need to go full Griswold when you're not there to enjoy it.


  1. When we are gone for long days, we always put out extra water bowls for the cat. She tends to put toys in her water when she is lonely, so this way, hopefully one of them stays toy-free.

    My response to lawncare - have a husband who isn't on a crazy schedule and takes care of this, haha!

    It feels odd not to be working crazy hours for our outage this time...not that I'm complaining. Our management doesn't want to pay any overtime unless its absolutely necessary, so they are having us work normal hours. I go home at the end of the week feeling so FREE!!

    1. Squeaker liked to drown his toys as well, but he kinda grew out of that habit. I would find three, four, five of my hair ties stolen from my vanity and circling the bottom of the kitty bowl.

      My husband is allergic to seasonal grass pollens, so we split the lawncare, depending on the season. Right now, I've got it all, because he's got weeds, grass, mold, and dead leaves allergies. Best to keep him inside with the kids.

      YOU. LUCKY. BOOGER. You get to work a normal day for once! Enjoy it! Get a head start on Christmas shopping / crafting! I so wish I was in your shoes right now! (I also wish I owned your shoes, but that's another story.)


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