Cat hotels and Catteries

If there are no other alternatives, a professional cattery (or cat hotel) can look after your cat while you are on holiday

Cat looking out from a cattery pen

The term 'cattery' applies to both boarding catteries, where cats are re-housed for short durations, and breeding catteries, where cats are bred. Although these articles are just for boarding catteries, it is worth being aware that there is a difference. Catteries vary a great deal in quality and size - some are run as large businesses, others are run by cat-lovers who have other jobs and make little money from the cattery.

Choosing a cattery

By looking in the local telephone directory or an online search you can quickly get a list of all the catteries in your area, working out which one suits you best will require a little more work. Having a look at their websites will provide some useful information and images, as well as what services they offer. If you have any friends who keep cats, ask them about their cattery experiences, and your vet may also provide some good local choices. Once you've narrowed down your choices you can book a visit. Be aware that catteries are busy places, may not always have someone available, and run on tight schedules. Any good cattery will let you come and have a good look around the pens and see the current resident cats, but don't be surprised if you can only visit at set times.

What to look for in a cattery

When checking a cattery there are some basic requirements to check for but it is also important to get a feel for the place, the owners, and the way cats are looked after. Catteries are not luxury homes, but look for little touches such as different foods being fed, checklists on pens, condition of the cats, even things like radios being left on to provide background noise, which many cats will find soothing.

  • Catteries should be, and may legally have to be, licenced by a local or national authority. Look up the governing body for your country and check that any catteries you consider are registered and licenced.
  • Catteries should have some kind of insurance in case your cat needs any unexpected veterinary treatment.
  • Whilst there is usually a certain 'catty' smell, or clinical smell (from disinfectant) to a cattery there should not be any strong smells of urine, waste, or musty aromas.
  • The pens should be clean, dry, and airy and should contain areas where the cat can hide, sleep, play, and go outside. Check the condition of any litter trays.
  • Pens do not need to be large but should cover several square meters of floor space. Be wary of any cattery where pens are stacked on top of each other.
  • Outdoor areas should be on a solid floor like concrete, but not on grassed areas, which are impossible to disinfect and will harbour bacteria from cat waste.
  • Cats should have access to food and water at all times
  • If the cattery also boards dogs they should be kept well away in a separate area
  • Cat looking out from behind bars
    Pens should be clean, but not bare. leave behind some home comforts

    Your responsibilities

    Most catteries will only take your cat if it is fully vaccinated and up to date with a record card, this is important to prevent the transfer of diseases like cat flu or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) Before your cat is taken in you will need to provide details of your cats special needs, such as any medications, and any special diet foods. Catteries will provide food for its cats but if your cat is a fussy eater or requires some kind of special diet you should expect to provide your cattery with enough food for the duration of your cats stay. When you arrive with your cat it is a good idea to bring along your cat's bed and any of its favourite toys or scratching posts, which can be put in the pen.

    Book your cat in early

    Once you find a good cattery, it is likely to be in demand so make sure you book well in advance of any holidays. Busy times like christmas may need booking as much as six months in advance. Once you drop of your cat and have left for your holiday's don't worry about him/her, your cat should be in the hands of people who probably know more about cats than you and have dealt with most situations - if anything is wrong your cattery will let you know.

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