by Barbara George
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Holidays or business trips away from home can be exciting for us; our cats do not necessarily feel the same way. Other reasons for using a cattery include major renovations or moving house. Depending on circumstances and the length of time away, finding a good boarding cattery can be the right option.
While cost is a factor, ideally it should not be the determining item. Here are some points to consider; each person, cat and circumstance will rate these differently.
The best way of finding a good cattery is by asking friends, colleagues, vets, groomers, breeders or behaviourists; then there is always the internet for additional information, photos, references, and contact details.
Accessibility to the cattery, owner and staff. If possible, arrange to see the cattery before making a booking. Meet the staff, see the enclosures and the current boarding cats. Note the general atmosphere, noise level and smell of the cattery. Are the enclosures clean and the cats comfortable? An overpowering disinfectant smell can be very off-putting to cats. If there are dogs on the property are they kept away from the cats?
How knowledgeable and observant are the staff? Would they take the necessary measures to ensure your cat was settled and content? Would they recognise the beginning of an illness, or notice a cat that wasn’t eating or using the litter tray?
What is the policy on vaccinations and vet care, if needed? Does your cat comply with the vaccinations policy? Will your vet be consulted, or the vet used by the cattery? What about emergencies? Would safe transport be provided to take your cat to the vet, if needed? Would this transport be an additional expense?
Security or safety must be in place, both in the receiving area and the cattery itself. Double door entrances and safe passages are good options.
Enclosure size and location, especially in relation to other cats. Some cats enjoy the company of others while timid cats prefer to be alone. Is there space for the food to be away from the litter tray?
Now many cats can be accommodated? Too many cats for the number of staff may mean your cat does not receive the attention and care you would like.
Comfort for your cats. Does the enclosure have spaces that your cat would enjoy? Can he reach them easily? Is it warm enough with sufficient fresh air?
Apart from comfort, what stimulation is provided to prevent boredom and undesirable behaviour?
Could you take favourite items such as blankets and toys to help your cat settle in? A worn item of clothing such as a t-shirt or socks can be a comfort too.
Will you be informed of any incidents or the state of your cat while she boarding? If you are not contactable is there someone who can be available if needed?
What food will your cat be given – the usual or a specific food used by the cattery? If he requires a special diet will this be adhered to?
Will medication be administered as required? How careful are the staff in dealing with medication and administering pills?
Can special requests be executed, such as daily grooming, playing games, or special cuddle sessions with elderly or timid cats? What about cats with special needs who may not be able to access the standard items in the enclosure? Will there be an additional cost for extra services?
What are the opening hours? Would you be able to collect your cat when you return on Sunday, or do you have to wait for the next day?
Book your cat in as early as possible as good catteries are often booked a year in advance over popular holidays. A good idea is to start when the cats are young to let them become accustomed to the cattery.