So, you’re going away from home for a while, on business or on holiday, and you need to find a cattery for your cat. The good news is that there are plenty of catteries around the country and there will be several within driving distance, wherever you live. But which one should you choose?
Where to start? If one of your friends can make a recommendation, all the better. If not, the internet is as good a place as any to look. The telephone directory is fine, but you can’t judge a cattery by a phone book. Searching online means you can have a quick look at each cattery before deciding which ones to visit in person. In this respect, the internet can save hours of your time. If you don’t already know the cattery you’re thinking of using, we’d always recommend looking before booking.
We’re a little uncertain about the various organisations which claim that only their members have decent catteries. These organisations don’t vet businesses for free. It costs money, and some smaller catteries won’t consider the cost justifiable. Also, a cattery inspected and found to be spotless a year ago could well be differently run today. So, although ‘Member of XYZ’ might sound impressive, don’t discount those who didn’t sign on the dotted line or assume that it is a 100% guarantee of better service or facilities.
Types of Catteries
Some people describe catteries as being either ‘indoor’ or ‘outdoor’. This refers to the type of runs available. Depending on their construction, some catteries have outdoor runs for cats and some only have indoor runs. Most cats prefer having a little outdoor space in which to roam, sleep or observe their neighbours. An outdoor run also helps with ventilation of the cattery and helps reduce the risk of infections and illnesses. Catteries without outdoor runs can seem cosier, but cats are usually outdoor creatures. If your cat spends most of its time asleep on the sofa, an outdoor run won’t be so important, but if he’s a born and bred explorer, an outdoor run is more or less essential.
Things to consider
When choosing a cattery, these are a few things you should consider:
- Each cat should have a separate enclosed sleeping area, with its own individual exercise run. The accommodation should be of a comfortable size and must be warm, dry and secure.
- The accommodation should prevent cats coming into contact with each other, and there should be absolutely no way that other animals can come into contact with them. Making sure that cat accommodation has barriers to prevent direct contact is pointless if the cattery has a common or shared run for cats, so check that your cat will have its own private run. Avoid catteries which don’t have runs, internal or external. Every cat needs space to exercise and move around.
- Your cat should be boarded alone, unless you are boarding more than one cat at the same time. You wouldn’t share a hotel bedroom with strangers, nor should anybody expect your cat to do so!
- The cattery should have adequate ventilation and air gaps between units.
- Cats can get bored easily, so make sure there are toys for them to amuse themselves with and, ideally, a nice view. Is there somewhere they can have a snooze in the sun?
- The design and layout of sleeping areas will vary between catteries. Some are like little houses, which contain the cat’s bed and litter tray, while some have little chalet boxes, raised off the ground, accessible by a ladder or ramp with the litter tray outside. Regardless of the design, the accommodation should be insulated, lined with impervious materials and fully enclosed to facilitate heating.
- Accommodation should be individually heated to cater for individual preferences and needs and, regardless, the cattery should obviously be heated during colder periods.
- Cleanliness. Last in this list but the first thing you’ll notice. How clean is the cattery? Does the smell suggest it doesn’t get cleaned too often? If so, we suggest you leave!
Combined Kennels and Catteries
A large number of cattery owners also operate kennels on the same property. In all honesty we’ve never heard of this being a problem, but if you choose a combined cattery and kennels, make sure that the cattery is far enough away from the kennels that the cats are not disturbed by the sound of barking. The average cat, perhaps a little disorientated in its new lodgings, won’t want to spend its day listening to what appears to be a barking competition.
You’ll find a lot of online advice telling you to check the cattery management, but a lot of it seems to have been written by people who’ve never visited a cattery. On the whole, the general condition of the premises, the condition of anys existing residents and the ‘feeling’ you get from speaking to the owner or employees will largely be your guide. That said, there are certain things a good cattery manager will do:
The cattery owner – or whoever you speak to about a reservation – should ask you for lots of information. For example, they should want to know your cat’s age, sex and breed (if applicable), what its eating habits are, its likes and dislikes or peculiarities. They may ask if your cat is long or short-haired and there may be additional grooming charges if it is long-haired. All catteries should insist and check that your cat is fully vaccinated, with cover for cat flu and FIE, and ask you to show your vaccination certificate. If they don’t, don’t go there!
They will also ask questions about your cat’s medical history, including details of any current medication, and details of your regular vet. You may be asked to sign a consent form in case your cat requires medication during its stay.
All catteries must be licensed by the local authority and should not be offended if you ask to see their certificate. Check it is up to date and matches the facilities they have. The license certificate should be on display.
Similarly, catteries are responsible for the safety of the boarded animals and for their actions whilst they are in their care. Various forms of insurance are mandatory, some are optional. If you don’t see their insurance certificates on display, ask what insurance they have. If certificates are not on public display, you should ask why.