When you’re a cat parent, traveling stops being a carefree and spontaneous venture. Instead, it requires meticulous planning and preparation.
Depending on how long the trip is, some owners, myself included, prefer to leave their cats at home where they feel safe. I usually have a friend come in once a day to take care of the cats’ basic needs.
However, if you’re like me then you might also be worried that one day, they’re going to be unavailable.
That’s when the big question comes up.
Should I board my cat instead?
Boarding facilities, like catteries, are safe and reliable environments for cats, with professional staff that will make sure your cat is properly cared for. Additionally, most catteries and veterinary clinics can support your cat’s routine and their special needs while you’re away.
If you’ve never boarded your cat and you want to learn more about these facilities, don’t worry we’re going to take you through the whole process, so you and your kitty know what to expect.
Understanding Your Cat Boarding Options
Traveling with cats is no easy task, and you have to consider every little thing, like selecting the right carrier, and making sure your cat’s emotional wellbeing is taken care of.
That’s why sometimes the best thing a cat parent can do is leave their kitty behind at a safe and secure facility.
So, let’s take a closer look at what boarding your cat can look like.
When pet owners are traveling and they can’t take their cats with them or leave them alone at home, a boarding cattery is another place where their cats can be housed temporarily.
Catteries are boarding kennels for cats, that can also be used when the owners are moving house, or their owner is at the hospital. These establishments are specifically designed for felines to create a low-stress environment where other pets like dogs won’t aggravate their anxiety.
Depending on the boarding facility you decide to take your cat to, you’ll see plenty of other cats staying there at the same time. They usually sleep in separate rooms, cabins, or cages and they can share a communal area.
In some cases, cats can have their own private area where they reside during the entire time of their stay, and they don’t have to share their space with other cats.
Every cattery may vary in style, and they may offer different living conditions as well as services.
Unlike traditional catteries, cat hotels are usually much fancier and more expensive.
You can expect that your cat will get their own space, with a bed, possible cat tree or window perches, and a play area. If your cat is social, they might even get to spend some of their time with other cats.
The cat hotel staff will usually pay more attention to your cat and their needs, and they’ll try to keep up with the routine you’ve established at your own home.
The cat hotel environment is definitely friendlier and quieter than a cattery, but this doesn’t mean that every cat hotel will be a luxurious facility of the same standard.
In some cases, a good cattery might be a better boarding option than a cat hotel that claims to be luxurious when it’s anything but that.
If you’re not sure whether a boarding facility will be able to take care of your cat properly, especially if they need special medical care then you can ask your local animal hospitals or vet clinics if they offer boarding services.
When boarding your cat at a vet clinic, you can be sure that they’ll have on-site medical care and specialized attention from trained staff. The only drawback is that your kitty might have to spend their time in a cage.
For healthy cats, staying at a veterinary clinic might be redundant. But if you have a senior cat or a kitty that has health issues then a vet clinic is the perfect place for them, where they can get proper care and the right medication.
If you’re looking for the most super luxurious cat accommodations, then a prestigious feline resort will make your boogie cat extremely happy.
In these upscale feline facilities, the focus is to keep your cat happy, relaxed, and safe.
Most feline resorts will offer your cat their own spacious condo, with plush bedding, shelves across the wall, and a cat tree by the window to keep them entertained.
Additionally, the feline resort of your choice might have theme rooms, like a sunroom with soft cushions, and large windows with a bird feeder so your cat can look outside and chirp at them. Or they might get a set amount of time per day in a large playroom, with lots of toys.
If your cat is a furry ball of pure energy then they’ll be able to climb tall cat towers and use high-quality scratching posts to keep their claws from splitting. While cats that are on the lazy side will be able to spend most of their time on hammocks, soft blankets and hide in kitty nooks.
Feline resorts have multiple feline services like grooming, and by paying an extra fee your cat can enjoy an equally luxurious stay.
If you’re really worried that your kitty is going to miss you while you’re away, then you can spend a little extra money and give them a vacation of their own at a feline resort.
Should I Board My Cat?
There are different reasons why you might consider boarding your feline companion. You might be going on a long vacation, or perhaps you’re renovating your apartment.
But before you start looking for a boarding facility it’s important to understand what boarding your cat will actually mean for your precious kitty.
Advantages Of Cat Boarding
Boarding facilities are specifically designed to keep your cat as safe and happy as possible. Most importantly they have special regulations in place to make sure your cat is protected.
According to InBrief a legal resource, the local authority in your area “will seek to ensure that the animals will be suitably fed and exercised, and that reasonable precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and to guard against fire.”
This means that the cattery is most likely run by professional carers that know how to behave around cats, even in the case of an emergency.
Depending on the facility, your cat will have its own space, away from other cats, possibly their own kitty condo with lots of hiding spots, and soft bedding.
Catteries are also responsible for keeping your cat entertained through daily playtime, in specialized playrooms that they may have to share with other cats.
Even though you’ll be away from your cat, a boarding facility will keep you informed about your cat’s well-being and you can always check-in and see how your fur baby is doing.
Overall, this is a great alternative, especially for confident cats that are more socialized.
Disadvantages Of Cat Boarding
As with most things in life, boarding facilities are not without fault. When it comes to boarding conditions things may differ from one cattery to another and depending on where you live you may have to do extensive research and look at multiple reviews before booking a worthy cattery.
More so, boarding requires careful planning, and it’s not a short-notice decision. These facilities are not always easy to book, and you have to do it in advance.
Boarding facilities can also be quite expensive, and you’ll have to keep that in mind when going over your budget.
Your cat might also have a difficult time staying at a cattery. Most cats don’t like it when their routine is disrupted, and they rarely enjoy being away from home.
The environmental change, especially in a facility that is filled with unfamiliar sounds and smells from other cats and humans can be overwhelming and extremely stressful for most cats.
Most likely, shy cats will not enjoy sharing a playroom with a stranger cat and that can lead to aggression and anxiety. Or they might end up hiding under blankets and inside the available kitty nooks in their room.
Should You Board Your Cat Or Leave Them At Home?
Most healthy grown cats can stay at home alone for a day or overnight, but only if they have fresh water, plenty of food, and a clean litter box. But if you’re planning on leaving your cat alone for longer then you should have a cat sitter to check up on them while you’re away or you should board them instead.
Of course, most of us understand that cats are creatures of habit, and most of them would rather stay at home instead of a fancy cat hotel.
More so, cats that haven’t been properly socialized as kittens or even older cats that rarely see stranger people and pets will most likely have a hard time adjusting to the cattery.
On the other hand, kittens need more regular care and contact, especially at the beginning, so leaving them alone for a prolonged time can be dangerous both mentally and physically since they can get into trouble.
That’s why if you don’t have a trusted person to check up on your kitty once a day or at least every other day, then it’s best to board them. Despite the possible stress your kitty may experience, these facilities can be trusted, and they’ll make sure your cat has everything they need.
If you believe that your cat will be better off staying at home while you’re away for just a short weekend trip, then you could get an automatic cat feeder and a water fountain to make sure your kitty is well-watered and fed.
For those of you who travel occasionally or stay away from home overnight, an automatic litter box like the Littermaid that's available on Amazon, can also help minimize the stress your cat may experience at the sight of a dirty toilet.
Should You Board Your Cat or Hire A Cat Sitter?
Every cat has its own personality, and you’ll need to have a deeper understanding of your cat’s needs before you make the decision to board them.
However, most of us can agree that our feline companions don’t want to move away from the comfort of their own homes.
Just like most cats don’t like to travel, they most likely won’t enjoy sharing a new and unfamiliar territory like a cattery with other cats. In this case, a cat sitter is a great alternative to catteries. Your cat won’t have to travel anywhere and the cat sitter will come and take care of your cat on their own territory and the attention your kitty will get will be more personalized.
A relative or a trusted friend is the most inexpensive option, but if that’s not an option for you then having a professional cat sitter is the best solution, and in some cases, it can be less expensive than a cattery or a cat hotel.
Depending on the pet sitting company or the individual pet sitter you might get other perks from this service, like watering the plants around your house or collecting the post. For cats that require medical attention or manual help with the litter box, you can even book a sitter to stay overnight in your home.
As I already mentioned a cat sitter is a more personalized service and you’ll get more in-depth updates on your cat’s well-being with possible photos and messages.
You also don’t have to worry about dropping your cat off and picking them up when you’re back from your adventures. All you’ll have to do is return to your feline friend who’s been well-taken care of in the comfort of their own home.
Unfortunately, cat sitters might not be that easy to find in certain areas, especially if you live in a small town or in a rural area. So, if you’re planning on leaving your cat during the holidays, then you’ll definitely have to book in advance.
Finally, my favorite part of having a regular cat sitter is how comfortable my cats feel with having a familiar face stay with them while I’m gone. But if your kitty is extremely social and they have no issue exploring new territories, then a boarding facility could actually be more entertaining and beneficial.
Perhaps they’ll react to the new cat trees just as enthusiastically as this Maine Coon!
How To Reduce Your Cat’s Stress During Boarding?
Every cat can react differently to boarding facilities. Even the bravest of cats might feel uneasy during the first few days, and it’s important that we try to minimize the stress they might experience by planning ahead and preparing them for what’s ahead.
Choose The Right Facility
The first thing you need to do is to decide what kind of facility you want your kitty to stay at.
Some of you might begin your research by looking at the local catteries, or you might go for something fancier like a cat hotel or a cat resort, and if your kitty needs specialized medical attention then you might choose a vet clinic with boarding services instead.
Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll need to do a bit of digging to find a boarding facility that offers the best cat-friendly features.
Make sure the cattery has individual cat condos instead of cages, that are large enough to include shelves or a cat tree where your kitty can jump and sharpen their claws. They must also have a few hiding places where your cat can retrieve, and there must be enough room for a comfy bed.
As you may already know cats don’t like it when their litter box is placed next to their feeding stations. So, keep an eye out on how sanitary the conditions in the said cattery are.
I’d also suggest paying a visit to a few boarding facilities so you can see what they offer in person and talk with the people working there about the different services available.
Avoid boarding facilities that host dogs and cats, even if they’re in separate areas. Your cat is most likely to hear and smell the resident canines and that will most likely increase their anxiety.
Another great tip is to use all your senses during your visit, to check how well kept the cattery is. Good boarding facilities need to look clean, smell fresh and be as quiet and serene as possible.
For this reason alone, it’s important that you plan your vacation and your cat’s boarding accommodation in advance. Especially if you’re planning on traveling or leaving your kitty at a cattery during the holidays or the summer you’ll need to call the facility to check their availability and make a reservation.
Most boarding facilities offer online booking which can make your holiday planning a bit easier, but it’s also a nice way to check and compare prices that might be higher during peak season.
You definitely shouldn’t leave the booking process for the last minute!
Do A Trial Run Before The Trip
Another way to ensure the boarding facility is suitable for your kitty is to try a short practice stay for one night.
Not only will your cat become familiarized with their condo, but you’ll see how well they react to boarding overall.
You’ll also get a more in-depth look at how the facility is run, and how the staff members are going to treat your cat throughout their stay.
During the trial run, you’ll also determine whether a cat sitter will be a better alternative for your cat instead.
Pack Your Cat’s Essentials
Once you’ve decided which cattery your cat will be staying at, it will be your responsibility to pack their suitcase with all of their essential things.
So, make sure to pack their favorite toys, and blankets that have their familiar scent all over. You might also want to add a shirt that smells like you so the staff can place it in the condo.
You’ll also need to bring enough cat food to last throughout the duration of your cat’s stay and don’t forget to add your cat’s favorite treats so the carers can use them to motivate your kitty during playtime or simply to cheer them up.
While some facilities can provide your cat with their own food at an additional cost, bringing your own food is also a great way to ensure that your cat won’t have an upset stomach because of a sudden change in their diet.
You can also ask them if you need to provide them with litter and a litter box, water, and food bowls as well as bedding, grooming tools, and any other possible supplies that your kitty will need for a stress-free and comfy stay.
If your cat takes any medication remember to pack that as well, along with a copy of the vet prescription and any other relevant information that can help the carers take care of your feline companion.
While boarding your cat, the employees will most likely ask you to show your cat’s medical and vaccination records as well as a copy of your pet insurance information in case of an emergency.
Prepare Your Cat Beforehand
As I mentioned above you’ll need to present the boarding facility with your cat’s up-to-date medical and vaccination records. So before checking in, you’ll need to take your cat to the vet for a check-up to make sure your kitty is healthy and fully vaccinated.
It’s also possible that your kitty may be exposed to more fleas and other parasites while they’re at the boarding facility.
That’s why in order to protect your fluffy overlord they will need to get flea and tick medications before boarding.
I’d also suggest calling the facility beforehand and checking with them in case they require specific records and what kind of flea control policies they have overall. You can also ask them what kind of precautions they’re taking to prevent parasites from spreading among the cats they’re boarding.
Communicate With The Boarders
I know it can be uncomfortable bombarding someone with a million questions but communicating with the cattery staff is definitely one of the most important points on this list.
If your cat has special needs or a certain routine you should let the facility know. This includes the smallest of things, like where they like or dislike being petted, when they like being fed, and what kind of grooming habits they have.
Our cats can have their own quirky habits but also fears. For example, my cat hates water bottles, he doesn’t like the sound they make when you pick them up or the way they look.
No matter how silly your cat’s phobia may sound, I’d make sure to let the staff members know all about it.
Open and honest communication will help your kitty feel safe in this new environment. So don’t be afraid to ask many questions, about their regulations, the type of playtime they offer in the facility, and what will happen if your cat gets sick.
More so, communication before boarding and communication throughout your cat’s stay is just as important.
That’s why make sure the facility is open to keeping you updated on your cat’s well-being on a daily basis and not only when there’s an emergency situation.
How Much Does It Cost To Board A Cat?
Every boarding facility offers a range of prices and additional fees depending on the services your kitty requires.
According to Forevervets “The cost for boarding a cat can vary based on your location and the type of boarding service you want, the national average for cat boarding is around $25 per night, with a broader price range between $15 and $45 per night.”
VCA Hospitals also offer rates that start as low as 27$ per night with specialty upgrades like medication that is 2$ per day.
They also state that “we offer an assortment of activities, services, and special treats for your pet to make its stay as close to a “home experience” as possible.”
You can also get free estimates through an internet home guide, and by using your zip code they will be able to present you with a list of local cat boarder that can take care of your cat in your area.
Remember that these prices may also change during peak season, and there might be additional services like grooming, or medical examinations.
Additionally, you might want to pay extra for a taxi service to pick up your cat before you leave and drop them off at your house when you’re back.
If you want your cat to get extra services on top of the regular pet care that the facility may offer then you need to be prepared that they’ll come with an additional cost, but in some cases, these services are complimentary and included in the price of boarding.
That’s why it’s important to talk with the boarding facility and get a breakdown of what they’re offering and how much boarding will ultimately cost you.
Cat Boarding FAQs
Is It Safe To Put Your Cat In A Cattery?
Most official boarding facilities are run by licensed and professional cat carers and it’s their job to make sure your kitty is looked after in the best possible way.
The staff members at a cattery are responsible for watering and feeding your cat, keeping their litter box cleaned, as well as playing with them, and keeping them entertained.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should trust any cattery. Some facilities are going to be more responsible than others so you should make sure to check-visit the facility before boarding your cat.
This is even more crucial for cats with medical issues and senior cats that may be better off staying at a vet clinic with boarding services.
Older cats and cats with health conditions will require more care, possible daily medications, and supplements and you’ll need to make sure the boarding facility can give your cat this personalized attention.
So, in order for your cat to be safe during their stay at the cattery, you need to make sure you’ve double-checked the credentials of that facility.
Is It Better To Leave Your Cat At Home?
Unfortunately, you can’t be 100% sure how your cat will react to a cattery unless you do a trial run before the actual trip.
Of course, you can expect that most cats will feel intimidated by a new environment that is full of strange sights, sounds, smells, and the presence of other cats.
Being suddenly removed from their home and their owner is also a stressful and for some cats traumatic experience.
In a sense, leaving your cat at home with a cat sitter is a much better option. This way your cat will get to stay in their home environment, where all their territory belongs only to them and they don’t have to claim anything. This is even more true for senior cats and kittens.
The only stress your kitty may experience by staying at home with a sitter is your absence, but if their needs are met daily at home, then you don’t have to worry too much about their emotional being.
So, if you have an option to ask a dear friend to keep an eye on your cat, or hire a cat sitter then go with this option and leave the cattery as a last resort alternative.
How Long Can A Cat Stay At A Cattery?
A few factors may affect the duration of your cat’s stay at a cattery, and it will all depend on the boarding facility of your choice.
Overall, your cat can stay at most catteries as little as one day or for a couple of months.
Usually, pet owners leave their cats at a boarding facility for a weekend or a week, until they’re back from their vacation.
In any case, you’ll have to book a cattery in advance, especially during peak season, more so if you want your cat to stay for longer.
How long Can You Leave Your Cat Alone At Home?
Most of us are working cat parents which means that our cats have to spend a few hours a day on their own.
For most cats, this is not an issue, and in some cases, you can leave your kitty alone for a whole day or overnight as long as they have enough food, water, and a clean litter box. But it’s not a good idea to leave your cat alone if you’re going to be away for longer than that.
According to Purina, “you can’t leave a cat alone when you go on holiday. If your cat becomes ill or gets injured while you are away, you won’t be there to provide the much-needed care that they require.”
Purina also adds that “The best option, in this case, may be boarding your cat in a cattery or arranging for them to be looked after by a friend or family member.”
Older cats and cats that require special medical attention and care should not be left alone overnight and a sitter is the best option in their case. Similarly, young cats and kittens require more attention throughout the day.
Leaving your cat behind is not an easy decision, and I personally always feel immense guilt even if I know that my friends will take good care of them.
However, I can imagine how nerve-racking it might feel to leave your kitty at a boarding facility for the first time.
But as long as you’ve made your research and you know your kitty can handle staying at a cattery for the duration of your vacation, then they’ll have a good and most importantly safe time.
Let us know how you feel about leaving your kitty at a boarding facility and would that be your first option?