Leaving a Cat at Home or in a CatteryCat Care > Leaving a Cat at Home or in a Cattery
Some owners worry considerably about how their cat will adjust if it has to be left with other people while they are away. Cats are usually most secure in their own familiar home surroundings. The ideal situation from the cat's point of view is if a relative or friend is able to come and stay in the house while the owners are away. The cat then has the benefit of human company and attention as well as its meals being given at the usual times, and generally it manages very well without its owners.
More often that not, however, this is not possible and the best that can be managed is to arrange for someone to come in and feed the cat, let it in and out and check on its wellbeing. This may work quite well, particularly if the carer is able to come in and out quite frequently and to give the cat plenty of attention. Unfortunately, however, many cats hate it when their home is deserted and some may even wander away. For peace of mind, it may be better to arrange for the cat to be boarded at a cattery where one can be sure of its safety.
In most areas of the UK, there are plenty of catteries available. Many are boarding kennels for both dogs and cats while others cater exclusively for cats. It is often helpful to ask around and see if one in your area is particularly recommended or to seek advice from the local veterinary practice. Naturally, it is a good idea to visit the cattery yourself, well in advance of your departure, so that you can form an opinion as to how well run the premises are. All reputable catteries will welcome and even expect such a visit, which also gives an opportunity to discuss any particular needs of your cat. In the end, it is a matter of trusting your own judgement-if you like the look of the place and the owners then you will feel happier about leaving your cat in their care.
There are, however, a few points to look out for during an inspection visit. The cattery should appear to be clean, tidy and efficiently managed, with the accommodation for cats kept separate from any kennels for dogs. The accommodation for each cat should consist of a warm, enclosed indoor pen along with an attached exercise run.
Alternatively, there should be a safely enclosed exercise pen where each cat is allowed to spend some time every day. The pens, runs, beds, feeding and water bowls, litter trays, etc, provided for the cats must be clean and hygienic. In winter it is important to make sure that indoor pens are adequately heated, and good ventilation is necessary, especially in hot, sunny weather. In a well-run cattery the people in charge will be obviously interested in the welfare of their charges and enthusiastic about cats. They should be happy to cater for reasonable individual requests, for instance food preferences, and to encourage the owner to bring the cat's favorite blanket or toy so that it will feel more at home.
It should also be appreciated that one of the things most feared by proprietors is an outbreak of some infectious illness in their cattery. Hence, almost invariably, they will insist that each cat left with them has been vaccinated against the common feline diseases and will wish to see the proof of this in the form of an up-to-date vaccination certificate.
Naturally, in the event of some unforeseen illness arising while the cat is being boarded, one should ensure that appropriate veterinary care will be obtained. It is worth bearing in mind that reputable catteries become booked up very quickly in recognized holiday periods so it is necessary to make plans well in advance to be sure of securing a place.
It is often the owners who experience more anxiety about their pet than the cat itself. It has to be said, however, that some cats are very unhappy about being left in a cattery, particularly older animals that dislike change. If, on acquiring a cat, you know that you will need to use a cattery on a regular basis, it is best to introduce this quite early on, once the animal has settled down with you.
Many cats learn to accept a stay in a cattery, even if they do not enjoy it very much, and will always be very pleased to return home. Some may fret a little or go off their food, but often proprietors will do their best to reassure an unhappy cat and to try to coax it to eat. Most cats will not come to any harm if they lose a little weight and will soon regain lost ground once they return home. However, if experience shows that a cat has been severely depressed and miserable during its stay in a cattery, it is only kind to make alternative arrangements in the future.