Pets are not just for Christmas, as the old saying goes. When you take on a cat, you have a responsibility to take care of it beyond its novelty value. But that doesn’t mean you’re waiting around on it hand and foot for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – without a break. You can’t always take a cat on vacation with you (not, at least, until they break ground on that brand new cat-sized resort in Barbados), so you need an option to make sure your pet is getting looked after at the same time as you.
Thankfully, there are literally thousands of catteries all across the country that specialize in pet boarding services that are so luxurious, you’ll wonder if you should be checking in yourself! In this article, we’ll be answering the question: what is a cattery? We will also cover why you should use one, what to look for in them, and how to choose the best cattery.
What is a cattery?
Catteries are often called cat hotels, or sometimes even cat kennels (thanks to the predominance of dog boarding services). Whatever the term, a cattery is a hygienic compound that can be built indoors or outdoors that provides a safe, warm, enclosed environment for individual cats (or cats from the same family who are familiar with each other sharing) to stay.
Catteries are boarding places where cats can expect to be cleaned, fed and be attended to depending on their personalities – one of the benefits of using a cattery other than knowing where your cat is your cat may need attention or to be played with, most cattery staff will be more than happy to oblige!
Why use a cattery?
Catteries, and the best catteries, can be a little dearer. But in using a cattery, you pay for peace of mind. The traditional option for a lot of owners is either to leave the cat with enough food to last the time alone, or to ask a neighbor to check in and make sure that they are okay or to feed them. Both options, while saving you money, present problems.
If your cat is a needy one, being alone in an environment where it would usually find company can cause a lot of stress to them. If you feel your neighbors may be too unreliable, or if you don’t have any or don’t know them, your option to leave the cat alone in the house is not a suitable alternative. A cat without supervision could become trapped, or lost without anyone’s knowledge – not to mention the potential damage a stressed cat can do to a house itself.
Catteries not only provide that oversight, but they are also a place for cats to get companionship and to stay healthy in the event of an emergency. You are paying for a cat lover to dedicate themselves to the physical and mental well-being of your beloved animal. If you would take you child to a daycare centre, you must take your cat to a cattery.
How to choose the best cattery
Catteries are less strictly regulated in the USA than say in the UK or Europe, but there are a few bodies that govern certain elements, such as the guidelines laid out by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) or The International Cat Association (TICA). Even if they are insured and licensed, when you are wondering how to choose the best cattery it is always important to maintain your own level of due diligence. If you are not happy, then you will not be happy leaving your cat there either.
You should always visit a cattery before you leave your cat there. Before you get the specifics of the price and the distance, you should ask yourself – is it light or warm enough here? Is it noisy? Do the owners seem enthusiastic and good natured? Google and Facebook reviews can only tell you so much – traditional catteries tend to be an older-generation owned enterprise, and some of them are not so internet savvy. Still, a quick email response and a good telephone manner can go a long way to showing that they are good mannered enough to be caring (and also present in the daytime hours!).
Beyond those issues, you might also do well to look at the surrounding area, the enclosure and the property it is on. Is it stimulating enough (a nice view, for example)? Also, how many cats will be staying here?
What to look for in a cattery
Catteries should also provide an indoor and outdoor space for your cat, even if that means an indoor pen is divided up. Modern catteries are purpose-built to contain a raised-level platform that gives an enclosed sleeping area, while the space outside is the ‘exercise’ area. This gives cats ample opportunity to choose their own environment, whether they are feeling social or antisocial.
The common (false) image of a cattery is one of cats all hanging around together in a yard, but if you discover a cattery that is constructed like this you should turn around and leave. While it is companionable for cats to be around each other in a cattery, they should never be able to interact with one another beyond seeing one another. This will remove almost any chance they have of upsetting one another, fighting, or – and this is key – sharing germs and potentially incubating diseases.
A good cattery will be warm and hygienic. Traditional wooden constructions are their way out because they are typically neither of those things. Newly built catteries are constructed from UPVC plastic and metal mesh that are easy to clean and fireproof. Either way, they should have a safety corridor which comes between the pen and the outside world should the worst happen and your cat make a run for it.
Whatever happens, you should check when visiting that the cattery is cleaned regularly with proper cleaning materials (regular antibacterial spray can hurt some paws, so cat-specific ones are needed). Are the litter trays emptied? Is there hair all over the place? Food on the floor?
Good catteries will also stress your responsibility to them: to tell them of any medical conditions your cat has, if it needs medicine (if it is epileptic or diabetic for instance) and whether it’s vaccinations and flea treatments are up to date.
Getting ready to use a cattery
Worked out how to choose the best cattery for you? There’s a couple of things you need to do before the big day.
- Make sure you confirm a time of arrival with the cat hotel – they have a long day of cleaning, feeding, pickups and drop-offs and need to be able to attend to their cats individually without surprise visits.
- Make sure you bring a certificate proving vaccinations are up to date (and be suspicious if they don’t ask for one).
- Make sure your cat doesn’t run away before you get it! Cats have a sixth sense about when the dreaded carry case is coming out, so make sure it’s not in a position to bolt if it thinks you’re taking it to the vet.
- Take a favorite toy or blanket. While a good cattery will provide adequate entertainment and stimulation, it’s not uncommon for cats to need some time to settle into their new location (new sights, sounds, smells), and a favoured item that reminds them of home will help them enormously.
- If your cat is on prescription food or a special diet, make sure the cattery knows well in advance. If you are unsure if they can provide it, bring enough for the cat to eat during its stay.
What is a Cattery? Final thoughts
In this article we have answered the question: what is a cattery? When wondering how to choose the best cattery, there are so many more factors beyond cost and location. If you want the best for your cat while you take necessary trips away from home, it’s not worth the risk of leaving it with a neighbor or to fend for itself.
By far the best option is to put it in a cattery, where you can be sure it will get fed, stay healthy, and be attended to. Sure, it’s always a little upsetting to drop your beloved feline off at it’s own hotel for a week, but the peace of mind is worth the heartache, besides – you’ll be reunited soon enough!