Boarding Your Cat
Before thinking about boarding your cat, consider whether you can find a responsible pet sitter to take care of your kitty in your home while you are away. Most cats prefer staying in their own familiar environments when their owners are gone. Friends, neighbors and students are often good resources for animal care. Many pet and house sitters advertise in local classified advertisements and are happy to provide references, which make most people more comfortable using their services. Local veterinarians also often have people who they can recommend for in-home pet care.
If you decide to board your cat, talk to your veterinary staff for recommended local boarding facilities. Many veterinary clinics will board their patients at their own location, which might be a great option. Think about your cat’s specific needs, before you begin your search for an appropriate boarding facility. Will your kitty need medical care while he or she is being boarded? Does your cat need lots of activity and space, or is she fairly sedentary? Does your cat have any anxiety or other behavioral issues? Once you take a few moments to think about what type of facility will be best-suited to your cat, you can narrow down your boarding choices.
Be sure to visit any boarding facility you are considering, before you commit your cat to it. Take a tour of the place, preferably unannounced, and check out the areas where your cat will be contained and exercised. Take some time to meet the people who will be caring for your cat. Consider the following:
- Will your cat have an individual indoor house and outdoor run?
- Are the runs and houses adequately heated and ventilated?
- Are outdoor pens sheltered, clean and safely beyond the reach of dogs and other animals?
- What does the bedding look like? Is it thrown out after each visitor, or recycled for each new resident? If reused, is it properly sanitized?
- How are the food and water bowls sterilized?
- Are the staff-members happy and seeming to enjoy their jobs?
- Will your kitty be kept in an area where it has lots of things to watch and keep it occupied?
- Are their climbing/scratching posts easily accessible at all times?
- Is there sufficient “sneezing space” between one cat pen and another, to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases?
- How often do the boarded cats have contact with people? And for how long?
- Is there 24-7 access to a veterinarian, and if so, who?
- Is the facility fairly quiet, or are the cats in an area close to lots of barking dogs?
If you are uncomfortable at all with any aspect of the boarding facility, from its cleanliness to its staff, look elsewhere. Once you have located a boarding facility that you like, ask about any requirements they have about boarding your cat. Every legitimate boarding kennel will require that your cat is up-to-date on all routine vaccinations. Some facilities have additional requirements, such as having your cat micro-chipped or bringing in copies of your cat’s medical records. Complete any paperwork requirements that the facility needs in advance, so that you avoid any last-minute frustrations.
Be sure to leave all of your contact information with the boarding facility, including your telephone number and the address and telephone number of your veterinarian and the emergency service. You should also leave written authorization for the boarding facility manager to consent to medical treatment for your cat during your absence, if in her judgment it is necessary, which should include your agreement to pay for that treatment upon your return. Many veterinarians understandably will not treat a pet without its owner’s actual consent. This can be a tidy way to take care of that potential situation while you are away. Also be sure to leave instructions about any dietary requirements. This may include leaving your cat’s special diet with the boarding folks, so that its digestion isn’t compromised during your absence.