How Do Cats Feel About Spending Time In The Cattery?

Any cat owner who has gone away for the weekend, taken a holiday or needed to attend a residential business trip has probably, at some point, considered a cattery. Cats are home-loving creatures, though, and time in an unfamiliar environment can stress them out. So how do they really feel about it, and what can you do to help the experience go more smoothly for them?

The main thing your cat feels is a sense of insecurity from being cut adrift from its territory.

Cats are highly territorial creatures. Your cat will have clearly marked out, through scent and frequent patrols, an area that is exclusively theirs–or, perhaps, shared with the other cats in your home. (If this is the case, there is likely a hierarchy of some sort established between them.) This territory will include the entirety of your home for indoor cats, will include your garden if your cat has access to it, and may also cover some adjoining gardens if your neighbours don’t have cats of their own.

This territorial is incredibly important to our feline friends. When your cat fights with your neighbours out in the yard, the fight is almost certainly a border dispute!

Cats hate being outside of their territory. A cattery is neutral ground and belongs to nobody–no one cat is likely to be there for long enough to claim it–but even when they can’t see each other, all cats know that the building is full of other cats. They all want the territory to make them feel safe, but none of them are able to claim it over all the others!

This stresses cats out hugely and is why pet boarding is generally more stressful for cats than it is for dogs. The best thing you can do to minimise this stress is to ensure that you use the same cattery every time, as this will help your cat feel more at home there in the short term; you should also do what you can to arrange someone to feed your cat at home if you’re only away for one or two nights. For longer trips, however, remember that cattery staff are used to this stress and are good at dealing with it–your cat is in safe hands with them, and the stress will have no lasting impact once they’re settled at home again.

You should also bear in mind that your cat has no way of knowing this isn’t a permanent change.

A cat’s mind doesn’t work like a human’s does, and they have no way to comprehend the concept of a ‘vacation’ or a ‘weekend break’. They automatically assume that all changes to their situation are permanent and dislike feeling powerless over them. They don’t know that you’re coming back and that things will soon return to normal, so they react as though you and their territory are both gone for good.

Thankfully, catteries are well appointed to deal with this–but you as a pet owner need to listen to their advice! There are good reasons that the cats in catteries aren’t allowed to free-roam or engage with each other during their stay, so even if you feel that your cat is friendly and adventurous, it’s best not to argue with the cattery’s rules.

Packing a few things from home is a great way to minimise this stress and reassure your cat that not everything is different. A favourite toy, their usual bed, the food you always feed them and a bag of day-old litter to add to their cattery tray are all great ways to give your feline friend a little reassurance that you’ll be back soon.

Is it Better to Board Cats With Medical Conditions With Your Vet?

If your cat has a long-term medical condition or is getting on in years and isn’t as healthy as it used to be, you may be worried about putting it in cat boarding. While you may have no concerns about a boarding facility’s ability to generally look after your pet, you may be worried about how the cattery will cope with your cat’s medications or what would happen if your cat gets sick and needs medical treatment. If your vet’s surgery offers cat boarding, this may give you some extra peace of mind. What are the advantages and disadvantages of boarding your cat with your vet?

The Advantages of Vet Boarding

Some vets will board cats in an animal hospital environment; others have a cattery attached to the practice. If your cat needs regular medical attention and you would prefer it to be monitored and treated by your own vet, this may be a good option for you. While a general cattery will have access to a vet, it may insist on using its own vet rather than the animal doctor you regularly use who knows all about your cat’s medical history.

Plus, if you board your cat with your vet, it will be on the site of the practice and can get help quickly if needed. If your cat falls ill in a cattery, it may need to wait for a vet to be called out or may have to be taken to a practice. In a vet’s surgery environment, your pet may also be cared for by the practice’s nurses who may have more experience of administering medications and identifying medical problems quickly. This may give your pet more immediate access to experienced medical care if it needs it.

The Disadvantages of Vet Boarding

Not all vet practices operate separate catteries. Some will board your cat but will put it in a hospital type of environment. These environments may be more geared towards to looking after very sick cats or those recovering from an operation or treatment. Your cat may not get as much individual space or attention as it would in a cattery and it may get bored if it ends up sitting in a small space with no option to get exercise during its stay.

Bear in mind that boarding your cat with your vet doesn’t always mean that your cat can automatically see a vet immediately if it has problems. Before choosing between a vet or a cattery, you also need to check how often the vet is available to deal with any emergency issues. While a practice may staff a boarding or hospital facility 24/7, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a vet is on site all day, every day, and there may be times when your pet may need to wait for treatment until your vet can get to it.  

For more information, contact companies like Welcome Boarding Kennels & Cattery. 

Live Alone? Follow These 3 Steps to Socialise Your Cat Before They Enter a Cattery

Cats that do the best staying in a cattery are usually those that have been well socialised. This is the process of acclimating a cat to other humans. A well-socialised kitty is likely to be affectionate with the majority of people, or will at least refrain from running away whenever someone new enters your home. A poorly-socialised cat is often timid and distrustful, and they will often become extremely scared, and possibly aggressive, in a cattery.

Your cat’s socialisation will depend on many factors, particularly how it was raised as a kitten. Additionally, certain breeds, such as the Russian Blue, tend to be wary of strangers. However, even a well-socialised cat can struggle if they live with only one person, and that will make entering a cattery that much harder. If this applies to your cat, take these steps to make sure that your cat is well socialised.

1. Slowly Introduce Other People

Cats generally choose one person to be their special human, even if they’re living with a large family. However, there’s a difference between having a favourite and only tolerating one person. In some cases, a cat will even refuse food from someone new. This is why it’s important to introduce them to strangers.

Make sure you have people over regularly, but don’t force interactions. If your cat hides initially, just wait. They will usually come back when they know the situation is safe. Let your guests know to keep their voices quiet and calm, and make sure they don’t try to handle your cat before it knows them.

2. Let Other People Feed Them

It’s no secret that cats tend to bond with people who feed them, so having strangers give your cat food is a good way to let them know that other humans are trustworthy. However, as stated above, some cats will refuse, even when they come to accept the presence of other people.

If this is the case, try starting slow by having your guests offer small treats instead of the main meal of the day. You might also consider saving special meals, like some sliced chicken, for newcomers to feed to your cat.

3. Leave Them with Other People

By the time your cat is regularly meeting with other people and accepting food from them without seeming concerned or anxious, they are already well on the way towards proper socialisation. The final test is to put up with other people when you aren’t there.

Once your cat gets acclimatised, pick out a certain visitor you know they are comfortable with, then ask them to spend the night when you are away for a day. The cat will not have you, but they will feel safe in their own territory. If they take this change well, try having that person take your cat for a night in their own home. The cat will be in a new environment, but will also be with a person that they know and trust.

By the end of this process, your cat should be adjusted to being with other people and away from their homes. Entering a cattery isn’t going to be quite the same, but they’ll be far more mentally prepared for the task.

Boarding Your Cat? Here is What You Should Know

If you have a cat, there may come a time when you need to board it due to you leaving on a business trip or going on an extended vacation. Before you choose this option over having someone care for the cat in your own home, you should consider the following facts about cat boarding facilities.

Some Boarding Facilities Offer Large Play Areas

When you bring your cat to a boarding facility, you don’t want it to be constricted to a single kennel where all it has is a bed, food and water bowl, and a toy or two. It should have more space for getting exercise and playing with the other cats. Look for a boarding facility that has play areas just for the cats. This should be a large room where the cats are free to roam around, playing on their own with toys, or with the other cats. There should be scratching posts and various things to hide under or jump on top of. This can make a big difference in how enjoyable the boarding facility is for your cat during its stay.

They Should Have Strict Policies About Vaccinations

Another thing to know about boarding facilities is that in terms of their requirements, they might not be created equal. You want a facility that is very strict about what cats they will accept. They should preferably not accept those that have not been caught up on all their vaccinations. You don’t want a cat to have an illness or disease that your cat might get and vice versa. You also don’t want any animals in the facility that have not had their rabies shot. Ask the facility what their guidelines are for vaccinations and whether or not they verify that the cat is definitely caught up on them.

Look Into the Facility’s Safety and Security Procedures

The safety and security of your cat is another thing that should be important to the facility, just as it is to you. If there is a play area for cats, make sure it is not the same area where dogs are, so there are no fights. Make sure it is not possible for a cat to be able to escape, such as with personnel having to go through two separate doors before getting into the area where the cars are. This keeps them from sneaking through one door and leaving the facility of their own free will. Also look into the security of the facility itself, ensuring they have security and surveillance, and always keep the doors locked. All areas that cats are allowed in the facility should be safe, clean and free from debris or harsh chemicals.