Cat owners will often find themselves needing to travel and the concern arises of where to send their beloved cat/s for this period of time. Whilst some owners may be able to find a trusted house sitter or pet sitter who is able to care for their cats, this is not an option for many.
Numerous establishments are listed as catteries offering boarding for cats but care needs to be taken to ensure the one chosen is appropriate for your cat and suits your needs.
Visiting a Cattery
Choosing a boarding establishment with whom to leave your much loved puss can be a challenging task for many owners. It is essential to book as far in advance as is reasonable to ensure you can book your first choice. The best place to start when searching for a boarding cattery is with trusted family and friends who can provide referrals to catteries they have found provided excellent levels of service and care to their animals. Regardless of where you find out about a boarding establishment it is imperative to personally visit the property to look it over and discuss any concerns or specific requirements of your pet with the proprietors.
A major consideration in choosing a cattery is the level of comfort you feel at the property. All owners should be welcomed to check the appropriateness of the property prior to booking in their pet. Take this opportunity to check the level of cleanliness of the premises, the cleanliness of the animals being boarded at that time, provision of warmth or cooling for weather extremes, and to discuss any of your pet's specific needs such as cat grooming, cat treats and cat food. You should find out about the housing arrangements is housing individual or in shared accommodation, are the cats in a cat cage or an extended run with cat posts and climbing areas, do they have access to enclosed internal and outside areas or can they at a minimum see outside to relieve boredom, type of food fed, and vaccination requirements.
Pet Medications and Vaccinations
All animals being placed into boarding establishments and living in close confinement with other animals should be appropriately vaccinated. The ease of transmission of some feline viruses under these conditions can be increased so the proprietor should be questioned about what level of vaccination is required of animals entering their premises. Although some owners may question the need to have their cat vaccinated in order to enter a boarding cattery, it actually provides a higher level of protection for your cat by ensuring that the risk of disease transmission is lowered during their stay as all other animals have been similarly vaccinated. Different catteries will have different requirements so ask the proprietor at the time of booking to ensure your pet can be adequately protected before arriving to board. Most require vaccination against feline rhinotracheitis virus, calicivirus and panleukopenia. Some catteries, especially those who also breed cats may have higher vaccination requirements. Obviously the higher the requirements the higher the protection afforded to the animals being housed there.
If your cat requires any regular pet medications this should be discussed with the cattery prior to booking. The ability to provide an optimal level of care and monitoring for an animal with ongoing illness or medical conditions is essential for some animals but may not be provided by all establishments.
Temperament and Cat Enclosures
Whilst it is common for all cats from the same household to be housed together, the temperament of each cat should be considered and individual housing should be booked if the cats do not have a harmonious relationship.
Cats being housed in boarding establishments may not have access to the variety of stimulating activities commonly available in their own environments. Choosing an establishment which provides housing which allows the cat to climb, provides stimulating pet toys in the cat enclosure and allows either access to enclosed outside areas or views of outside will help maintain the animal's level of activity and health and help relieve boredom during its stay.
All Important Cat Food
It is important to never change a cat's diet rapidly - rapid changes in a cat's diet can lead to dietary indiscretion. Discussing the pet food on offer at the cattery prior to booking in is highly recommended. Obviously the most ideal situation would be if the boarding establishment provided your cat's normal diet for the duration of its stay. However this is not always possible. In many cases it may be possible for you to provide your cat's regular cat food for the first few days so as to allow the staff to acclimatise your cat to their food. Otherwise providing the diet for the full duration of the stay may be an option. Alternately you may be able to acclimatise the cat slowly to the cattery's food prior to the start of its stay.
Pet Comfort and Health
If your cat is used to regular human-cat interaction, helping it to settle in to its new surroundings is very important. Providing some of your cat's normal toys or bedding for use during its stay may assist. The provision of an old t-shirt worn by the owner and unwashed prior to its stay can provide a familiar smell for your cat whilst you are away. The provision of such items needs to be discussed with the cattery prior to booking as it may not be allowed.
Unfortunately some animals may become unwell or sustain an injury whilst boarding. It is vital to discuss the protocol followed by the cattery in case of this occurring prior to booking. Do they have a visiting vet? Will they use your vet if local? Will they only access veterinary help after discussing it with the owner of the animal or can you give permission for immediate veterinary care up to a given value to stabilise your animal until you can be contacted? What pet medications will the cattery or veterinarian be allowed to administer on your behalf? This is an essential consideration to have organised prior to your holiday in the best interests of your cat and for your personal peace of mind whilst away.
Addressing a few key considerations prior to leaving your cat at a boarding establishment can help ensure a safe and stress free stay for your pet and a less worrying time away for the owner. Happy holidays!