Alternatives to catteries
Not everyone feels comfortable leaving their cat in a small, unfamiliar cattery pen, here are some alternatives
Leaving your cat with outside access
If you have a very independent cat who spends a lot of time outside, and shows little need for human affection, you may think that given plenty of food, it will be perfectly fine on its own for several days, or even a week. The evidence is to the contrary though, and most rescue centres receive their biggest influx of cats over the holiday periods.
Even if your cat does not seem bothered about the humans it shares its home with, there is still a sense of familiarity and the connection with its owners and its food. Without the normal household noises, smells, and mealtimes, your cat will start roaming around for a new source of food and human interaction. By bonding with other humans it finds, either by affection, meowing for food, or general hanging around, your cat can easily give the impression it is homeless. If someone were to check your cat's ID tag and find out you are not home, or if your cat has no obvious identification, then your cat could easily end up in a rescue center.
Short durations at home
If you are only away for a few days then it is perfectly fine to leave your cat at home providing someone can come in and check up, at least once and ideally twice a day. The 'checker' should be someone you know well, preferably family or close friend, and someone who keeps cats or knows cats well. Provide very clear instructions about feeding and any unusual characteristics of your cat. Your cat should not be allowed out whilst you are away as your checker may not be able to get them back in.
Longer durations at home
If you are away for more than a few days, but don't want to put your cat through the stress and unfamiliarity of a boarding cattery, you can hire a pet sitter or even home sitter to care for your cat while you are away. Let your neighbors know the situation so they can keep an eye out and are available should there be any problems.
A pet sitter will give your cat more attention, but must be trustworthy
You can hire an individual or trusted friend to pet-sit for you or you can hire a professional pet sitting company. A pet sitter will visit your home and attend to all your cats basic needs such as feeding, medications, and litter tray cleaning. Most pet sitters also offer some promise of spending time with your cat.
A home sitter will actually stay in your home either during the day or in evenings and even overnight. This means that as well as attending to your pets needs they can also carry out additional tasks such as watering plants, and they can of course spend lots of time with your cat and other pets.
Pet exchange or holiday rehoming
There are several 'pet exchange' organisations who have members willing to house and look after your cat while you are away. Although your cat will still be transported to a new home, it will get more attention and one to one care than a cattery could provide. Pet exchanges work both ways and you should be willing to take care of someone else's pet when they go away in return. In some cases however, there are people who seek out pets to look after because they genuinely have a love of cats but cannot keep one permanently due to other commitments.
Taking your cat with you
Another possibility for your cat is to come on holiday with you, but this very much depends on the details of your holiday. If you are off to another country or a city hotel break, taking your cat is not a sensible option. If however, you are visiting your parents country retreat then taking your cat could be a better idea than a cattery or home visits. Make sure you prepare in advance and follow our article on transporting your cat. Bring your cats favourite things with you, as well as any bedding, food bowls and litter trays. Even if you think your cat is settled it would be wise to keep him/her indoors for at least a week, and for the duration of your stay if the area has unfamiliar buildings and roads.