Sleep-Away Camp For Kitty? The Pros and Cons of Boarding Your Cat
Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking for a quality spot to board your cat.
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Whether you’re planning on hitting the road, hopping a flight, or taking a train to your next destination, it may not always be possible to bring your pet with you — no matter how much you may want to show off their new airline-approved carrier. That being said, there’s no reason you should feel like you aren’t leaving your cat in the best possible hands, which is where this exhaustive list of dos and don’ts of cat boarding comes in.
Anyone who has a cat with separation anxiety (or has separation anxiety themselves) understands the importance of finding a boarding facility that meets all of your cats needs. Otherwise, you may find yourself FaceTiming staff members when you should be enjoying your well-earned vacation. But how can you find a boarding facility that’s a good fit for you and your cat? Below, the important questions to ask, essentials to pack in their overnight bag, and tips for finding the right match in a cat-boarding facility, or cattery.
Should you board your cat or leave them alone?
It takes cats a long time to adjust to unfamiliar places, so it may not be feasible to bring your cat on every long weekend trip you embark on, unless you can commit to spending a chunk of your time off helping them get acclimated. That being said, leaving them alone for long periods of time isn’t the best choice, either.
Cats are social creatures and need to engage with humans or other pets on a daily basis. While some cats are fine left on their own for a maximum of 24 to 48 hours, others may not be as tolerant and might find being left alone stressful. This could cause them to engage in destructive behaviors, such as scratching furniture, eating plants, avoiding the litter box, or self-injury. It’s easier to leave cats alone during this period if they have a sibling to keep them company, but never for an extended period of time.
If you’re planning to ask a friend or family member to drop in and feed your cat during your week-long vacation, be proactive and stock up on calming products, such as pheromone diffusers and thundershirts. Your cat may find the change in their routine and consistency of social interactions stressful, so these comforts can help ease their anxieties.
For trips longer than a week, consider looking into long-term cat-boarding facilities, including those available at your local veterinary hospital. This can be especially useful for senior cats and those who require special medication.
Finding a Trusted Cat Boarding Facility
The internet is inundated with information about cat-boarding services, which can make it difficult to sift through the viable options. Aside from typing “cat boarding near me” into Google, here are a few ways to jumpstart your search.
If you’re traveling during a busy time like the holidays, be sure to look into boarding facilities well in advance because they’re likely to book up. And knowing you couldn’t secure your first choice for your child? Not a good feeling.
Ask about their vaccination policies in advance. They may require proof that your cat has certain vaccinations such as the vaccine for rabies, which is required by law in some states, and you’ll need some lead time to get the supporting paperwork from your vet.
Consider your vet
If you have a senior cat, consider boarding them at your vet hospital. That way, they’ll already have your cat’s medical records and are familiar with their unique needs. Plus, they’ll be able to give your cat any extra care they may require, such as daily shots or other medicine.
Another pro of boarding your cat at the vet is that you have the option to add on services during their stay, including dental cleanings and grooming. (Let’s face it: No one wants to trim their cat’s nails or give them a bath at home.)
Tour the facilities
Ask to see where your cat will be staying. During your tour, make sure there’s enough room in the cattery for your cat to sleep, play, eat, hide, and walk around. This is especially important if you’re planning for an extended stay.
Another thing to look for is that cats and dogs are kept in separate areas. Your cat may already find the scents of a new place overwhelming and stressful, which can be heightened by the smells and sounds of other animals.
Look for signs of a safe and clean facility with a friendly, supportive, and professional staff. They should be open to answering any questions you may have and give clear answers when it comes to the amount of playtime and daily contact your cat will be receiving in your absence.
Ask for references
If you aren’t sold right away, ask to be put in touch with other cat parents who have used their boarding facilities in the past. That way, you can learn about their experiences and see if it seems like the right fit for you. You can always check out their Google or Yelp reviews, but beware that online reviews tend to represent two extremes, so don’t let them scare you off right away.
Establish the cost
Asking about the cat-boarding costs in advance is key. Use the pricing information to compare the facilities. One that’s more expensive might offer more time for physical contact with your cat, while a more affordable option may only provide a few minutes of playtime per day.
Pack their overnight bag
Before dropping them off for their stay, gather familiar objects to send them off with, such as their bed and toys as well as their regular food, treats, and litter. Bonus points if you leave your favorite T-shirt behind so they can take comfort in your scent while you’re away.
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Avery is a writer and producer. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. When she’s not at her computer, you can find her reading, practicing her Greek on Duolingo, and delving into the Sex and the City discourse. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their cat, Chicken, who rules with an iron fist.