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What to Look for When Choosing a Cattery

by Reini Strasser
Cattery Yarrambat

If you’re going on holiday or away for work, as heartbreaking as it may be, it’s generally not practical to take your beloved kitty with you. So, what are the options? Cats are pretty self reliant, so you can leave them a couple days’ food (or invest in an auto feeder) and let them fend for themselves. You could also ask a neighbour or friend to swing by once a day to feed them and check on them. However, both options present potential problems.

A cattery can be a great option. There they will receive care, feeding, grooming and company from professional cat lovers. However, we all know how finicky and fussy cats can be. They like things their own way, don’t like change and can react unpredictably around other cats. That means that catteries can be stressful for some cats.

Before you book your furry friend into your local cattery, it’s worth doing some research to find out if the place is right for your cat. Not all cat kennels are created equal, so it’s worth doing some research to find a place that’s comfortable for your kitty and gives you peace of mind that they’re being looked after. And we have a few tips to help you find the right place.

Start researching early

Good catteries will book out early (seriously, like six months ahead of time, especially around holiday periods). So it’s important to start researching catteries well ahead of your travel time.

Recommendations and Reviews

Where possible, talk to other cat parents for personal cattery recommendations. Ask about their personal experience with catteries they’ve used. Find out how helpful the staff were, what the accommodation and hygiene were like, and of courses how their cat liked it.

Failing any personal recommendations, check out online reviews. People generally have pretty clear-cut positive or negative experiences with catteries, so you should get some pretty honest reviews. However, it’s important to remember that what works for one cat, may not work for another, so factor in your cat’s personality into any considerations.

Visit the cattery

Before making a booking, it can be worth visiting the cattery and asking for a look around. A good cattery will generally take walk-ins to inspect the facilities. If a cattery won’t allow you to see the accommodation areas, that should be a pretty big red flag.

Once you’re at the cattery, take the time to meet the staff, inspect the facilities and get a sense of the level of care provided.

Check the living areas to ensure they are warm, safe and secure. Are the cats housed individually or in groups? Is there adequate shelter and bedding, as well as separate litter areas? What is the feeding routine? Do they have plenty of toys and space to play?

Also, it’s important to note whether the cats have places to hide away from the prying eyes of other cats. Some cats get very stressed in the presence of other cats, so they should not be able to make nose, paw or eye contact.

Talk to the staff

Talking to the staff is a quick and easy way to determine if they are real cat lovers. They should be comfortable talking about cat care and dealing with different cat personalities and preferences. The staff should also ask a lot of questions about your pet, including about diet, health issues, routine and play habits.

You should also find out how many staff there are per animal in the cattery and what hours the cattery is staffed.

Do they only board cats?

Pet Boarding Yarrambat

Some pet boarding establishments are combined catteries and kennels. While the cats and dogs will usually be boarded in separate areas (often separate buildings), the nearby presence, smells and noise of so many dogs can be incredibly stressful for some cats. If your cat is particularly anxious or stressed around dogs, it may be worth immediately crossing combined catteries/kennels off your list.

What are the vaccination requirements?

A good cattery will have mandatory vaccination requirements for every cat. You will need to provide written proof from your vet that your cat is up to date with its vaccinations. The recommended minimum requirement for cats going to catteries is the F3 vaccination. However, your vet may recommend other vaccinations depending on your cat’s health.

It’s important to note that cats should be vaccinated 2-3 weeks before boarding as immunity can take several weeks to develop. Good catteries will also require your cat to be up to date with its worm and flea treatments.

If there aren’t specific requirements around vaccinations, worm and flea treatments, that’s a clear sign to avoid the cattery.

Discuss price

Most catteries will charge a flat per-day rate depending on the size of the accommodation. Good catteries will offer different size accommodation depending on the amount of space your cat likes. The larger the accommodation, the more expensive boarding will be.

On top of the daily rate may be a daily feeding charge if the cattery is providing the food. If you are providing your own food, you shouldn’t be charged for food.

Find out what is and isn’t included in the daily charges and if there are any additional charges for food or medication, grooming, health care or anything else.

Health care

Talk to the staff about their process for emergencies. Find out whether they have onsite vets or vet nurses and what the procedure is if a cat is sick or injured. Find out what vets the cattery works with and in what situations a cat is referred to a vet. It’s also worth finding out how this is billed and what kind of insurance coverage they have.  Look at a few things you can do to protect your pet and protect your home from your pet!

Any cat lover knows how difficult it is to enjoy a trip away if you’re worried about your beloved kitty. Taking the time to find the right cattery will ensure your cat enjoys its time away and you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with quality cat care.

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