Your cat may be a home-loving creature who's agreeable to being left alone, but as a responsible cat owner, you'd want your cat to be looked after whilst you're away.
If you're not keen on having someone come into your house, your best alternative is to bring your cat to a boarding cattery. But with so many cat boarding facilities to choose from, how do you choose the right one for your cat?
To help you make the right choice, we answer 6 of the most frequently asked questions about cattery.
1. Is it stressful for a cat to be boarded?
Yes, it may be stressful for a cat to be in a new environment. Unfamiliar faces and changes in routine can cause stress in cat and may trigger a "fight or flight" response that may be misconstrued as a behavioural problem.
Catteries and cat boarding facilities must be able to take measures to reduce stress and make their feline guests feel at ease in their temporary home. By making the cattery a low-stress environment, it will be much easier and quicker for cats to warm-up to the new place and the people.
2. How much does a cattery cost?
Prices vary greatly across boarding facilities. The daily rate can be anywhere from £10 to £30 per cat depending on the type of accommodation and cat amenities the cattery offers.
Basic rates typically include meals, grooming, bedding, scratch posts, play session, and constant checks, among other things. Extra services can be accommodated for an additional fee.
3. What age can a cat go to a cattery?
There usually is no age restriction for cats. As long as the cats are old enough to be vaccinated, then it should be fine sending them to a cattery.
Some catteries even encourage bringing kittens because they adapt quickly and get used to being away from home. Regardless of age, cats being brought to the cattery should be healthy.
4. What makes a good cattery?
Entrusting your feline friend to a reputable cattery will give you peace of mind. To choose a suitable cattery for your cat, here are some things to look out for when visiting the facility:
- Know their vaccination regulations. Double-check if they are following the protocols as it is crucial to minimise the risk of spreading diseases.
- The cattery should board cats separately. Your feline companion must not be roommates with other cats. The only exception will be if you have two or more cats from the same household. This is to prevent catfights and the risk of acquiring diseases from other felines.
Assess the cleanliness of the cattery. Ask them how often they clean and sanitise the enclosure and surrounding areas. If the place is unclean, this can cause health problems for your furry friend.
- Check if the enclosure is well-ventilated. There should be a safe heating and cooling mechanism within the in-door section. This will keep your cat warm in winter and cool in summer.
- The staff should be monitoring the cats every day. Responsible catteries usually use a 'pee and poo' chart. It is where they keep records of what your cat is eating and what they observed in the litter tray. If any health issues crop up, they can easily track what might have caused it.
They will also require you to sign an authorisation form to allow them to send your cat to the vet in case of health problems.
- Cats are master escape artists. The enclosures must be secure and properly maintained. There must be no gaps or holes where cats can squeeze through.
- If you have a disabled cat, look for a cattery where her sleeping area is accessible through a ramp. You can choose accommodation at ground level so it would be easier for your cat to move around and get the cat care they require.
- Most catteries will administer medications if it is required. However, they may not be agreeable to certain requests such as insulin injections for diabetic felines. If you have a cat with this condition, you should pick a cattery that can administer medication properly.
5. What vaccines does my cat need before going into a cattery?
In line with the Animal Boarding Establishments Act (1963) and Defra's guidance notes for conditions for providing boarding for cats, all reasonable precautions must be taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among cats and people in the cattery.
Cats that are to be boarded in catteries should receive vaccines against Feline calicivirus (FCV), Feline herpesvirus (FHV), and Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). Seek for a booster vaccine for FCV and FHV within 12 months. Give a booster vaccine at least 1 to 2 months before entry into the boarding cattery to ensure maximum protection.
Cats that are vaccinated for the first time need two injections, which are usually 3 weeks apart. The cattery will not allow entry for your cat until after the last injection is viable conforming to the manufacturer's instructions. It often happens less than 4 weeks or at least 7 to 10 days. If you are unsure, ask the vet when the vaccine will be considered viable.
6. How do I prepare my cat for boarding?
Proper preparation will ensure that your cat is safe and secure in the cattery even in case of an emergency. Below are a few things you need to do before you check her in:
- Avoid making sudden dietary changes before her boarding day. Sudden changes in her feeding can cause digestive upset. Consider bringing your own cat's food that is enough for the duration of her stay.
Ask the staff only to feed the food you provided and avoid giving her other cat food or treats.
- Bring a copy of your cat's vet records. It should include any medications, diagnosed conditions, and problems. Make sure to include any behavioural quirks such as dislike for having her chin rubbed or tendency to shy away from other cats.
Provide the cattery with her tag and microchip numbers.
- Most catteries will require your cat to be spayed or neutered. Ask your chosen cattery if they have a rule relating to it. If your cat needs to be desexed, take note that it will take around 10 to 14 days for her incisions to heal.
- Pack her favourite toy, blanket, or clothing. The scent on these items will remind her of home and put her at ease in case she feels anxious or stressed.
- Provide your contact information as well as the vet's phone number so that the cattery can quickly reach you or the vet in case of emergency.