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Going on Holiday?

08 August 2017
Home-stay vs. cattery - what are your options?

Going on holiday should be a time for relaxing and forgetting your worries, but when you have a cat that isn’t going with you, arranging its care in your absence can be a stressful time. If you’ve never left your cat before, knowing what the best option is can be tricky, with no way of predicting how he or she will cope.

When planning your cat’s care, the less upheaval the better. This isn’t always achievable but forward planning will ensure your cat manages, even enjoys, your short break from home. Many people prefer to leave their cats at home and have a cat-sitter come in daily to feed them. A friend, family member or professional can do this, providing you trust them with your furry friend.

A cattery is another option for those who can’t rely on or afford someone to come in every day to care for their cat. Catteries suit many owners and many cats, although some can find them a bit upsetting at first. Whatever you choose to do, as long as you plan well in advance, you needn’t worry about your cat receiving the right care.


Cat-sitting:

Cats are territorial creatures that would probably opt for staying at home while you’re away, if given the choice. Cat-sitting involves someone stopping by to feed and comfort your cat, either on a permanent stay-in basis or at regular intervals. For your cat, this means keeping its environment, all its creature comforts and enjoying the same routines as when you’re there.
Cats that don’t like change and are unaccustomed to travelling and meeting new people will probably fare much better with this arrangement. Cats that like coming and going as they please, are not demanding of attention and adjust to new faces quite quickly, are the ideal candidates for a pet-sitter, whether it’s a professional one or a trusted friend or neighbour.   

If your household is usually busy and loud then going to emptiness and quiet can make a cat feel anxious and confused. Arrange with your petsitter to visit at certain times (according to your cat’s established routine) to keep feeding and play times the same. Leaving a radio on in the morning and turning it off at night helps fill the sound void. Schedule visits every 24 hours as a minimum (the more visits, the better) so that any medical issues with your cat can be noticed early.

Ask the sitter not to move your cat’s toys, scratching posts and beds around too much, or introduce any strong odours that your cat won't recognise. In short, encourage a stress-free environment by keeping the house as untouched as possible

Boarding/cattery:

Sometimes there is no alternative to placing a cat in boarding when you're out of town. Not everyone has friends and relatives that would be willing to take a cat in, even for just a short period of time. The standard of catteries varies enormously these days, so do your homework before deciding where to place your cat. Don't be tempted to choose the cheapest option, as price often indicates the level of care provided.

Good catteries will allow you to pay them a visit before your cat is boarded there. You will be able to check out the facilities, amount of space, condition and staff to decide whether it's the right place for your pet.

You should also get the chance to ask questions and discuss anything that might be bothering you. If your cat is on medication or would prefer to be boarded with other cats from your household - it is worth finding out what your options are.

When it comes to finding the right cattery, choose somewhere you get a good feeling about. Is it clean and light, with sufficient ventilation? Is the temperature right? Do the staff seem knowledgeable? Is there enough space for your cat to move comfortably? Do the other cats in the facility look happy and well cared for?

You also need to find out what the requirements for vaccinations and worm/flea treatments are before you drop your cat off, as some catteries will refuse to take in animals without seeing up-to-date vaccination certificates. They will also refuse to take cats that are critically ill or appear to be.

It is important to make the environment as comfortable and homely as possible for your cat, to keep the upheaval to a minimum. Scratching posts, toys and bedding, along with other items and playthings that are associated with home, should be brought along and placed in your cat's allotted space. These will help create the feeling of a home from home and make the transition much easier.

Likewise, find out what the cattery is going to feed your cat. You may consider bringing along your regular food so that your cat doesn't have to adjust to a new diet too. The stress of a feed change added to new environments, faces and routines can trigger stomach upsets, so providing your cat's usual diet is definitely worthwhile.