When you are a cat lover, one of the most important considerations when you plan a holiday is to ensure that your cat will be well cared for while you are away. Some people never go away simply because they cannot find a place that they trust enough to give their cat the care and attention they need and deserve.
A cat never likes to be removed from its own environment and will always suffer a degree of stress with the upheaval and change of routine. There is, however, a lot that can be done to minimise the stress and anxiety for both cat and owner!
If you find a good cattery and book well in advance, you will be able to enjoy your holiday safe in the knowledge that your cat is being well cared for and means you don’t have to feel guilty at leaving him / her behind!
Standards of catteries vary enormously – there are some extremely good catteries but unfortunately there are also some that provide poor quality of service and accommodation. The best thing is to do your own research and investigate what is on offer locally and decide which cattery can offer the standard of care that your cat deserves.
Make an appointment to go and view the cattery. If any cattery owner refuses to show you around the premises, look elsewhere.
Many cats are not used to dogs, and the sound of barking can cause enormous stress to them. Try to choose a cattery that is not located next to a boarding kennels.
Check to see that the cattery is clean and tidy. If high standards of cleanliness are evident, these high standards are likely to be reflected in the general care and running of the cattery.
Did you receive a warm welcome from the proprietor? Did they seem well informed about cat care and running a cattery? Did you feel confident that they understood your cat’s needs?
All catteries should be licensed by the local authority, so do ask to see the cattery licence if it is not clearly displayed.
The Feline Advisory Bureau is a regulatory body, which inspects catteries and recommends standards on construction, management and day to day care. The FAB recommended list of high quality catteries is not exhaustive however, and there are many catteries which offer exceptional care and hygienic accommodation who are not listed by FAB.
Ask the proprietor about their policy on the care of an animal that becomes sick and about their quarantine arrangements (some catteries have separate isolation pens to keep sick animals away from the other cats who are boarding).
Ask to see the food preparation area and the place where cleaning and litter trays, bedding etc takes place. Ask about the disinfection procedures and about their infection control policy.
The accommodation for each cat should have a separate enclosed and heated sleeping area with access to an outside run.
The pen should be warm and dry, secure, and big enough to accommodate food, water, bedding, scratch posts, toys, litter trays and enough room to run around (take a look around our cattery). There should be an option to provide extra space so that cats from a multi cat household can comfortably board together.
The pen should be heated in winter and well ventilated in summer, with plenty of shade from direct sunlight.
Cats should have a choice of sleeping areas, with a high shelf and somewhere to hide.
Each pen should lead onto a secure outer enclosed safety corridor. This corridor should be securely locked at all times to provide additional security.
Each unit should have either a minimum 60cm gap OR a full height sneeze barrier between each pen to prevent the spread of airborne diseases.
Any cattery with a good view is a bonus as cats are great spectators and love to watch the wildlife world go by!
There should be no strong odours of urine or faeces, nor should there be a strong smell of cleaning products.
Take note of other cats in residence – if they look content, alert and interested then that is a sure sign that all is well. Food bowls that look empty or a significant amount of food eaten also implies that the residents are settled and happy. Fresh water should be available to cats at all times.
A good proprietor will ask a multitude of questions about your cats – name, age, eating likes and dislikes, personality traits, special likes and dislikes. If they ask about breed and whether long or short hair that is a good indication that they understand the need for daily grooming. A good cattery will encourage you to bring in bedding, scratch posts, toys and other things from home that will be familiar to your cat and help him/ her to settle quickly.
A good cattery will insist on seeing an up-to-date vaccination certificate, and information about recent flea and worming treatment. They will ask about medical history and it is important to disclose any problems so that the proprietor is aware of any special requirements your cat may have, for example, older cats may find it difficult to jump onto high shelves.
Not all catteries are prepared to accept animals on regular medication for a stable medical condition. You may need to look around a few catteries before you find somewhere that is prepared to administer tablets, injections or other medication.
Once you have checked out a cattery and found all the above points fulfilled – then you have found a great cattery! It is likely that they will be booked up well in advance particularly in peak holiday seasons, so book a long time in advance as you book your holidays so that you will have peace of mind and have confidence that your cat will be happy and well cared for while you are away. It is often a good idea to try out a cattery for a long weekend initially so that you can see that both you and your cat are pleased with the care and service you have received.