Choosing A Cattery

Posted on: 21 August 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Feline expert Vicky Halls offers essential advice on choosing the best cattery.


Everybody deserves a holiday once in a while but so many people refuse to go because they are so concerned about leaving the cat - but it really doesn’t have to be such a problem.

If you find a good cattery, and book it sufficiently in advance, you will have a great holiday safe in the knowledge that your cat is receiving five-star care. Your cat won’t be at home or in familiar surroundings but, if the cattery is chosen well, he may even be having a little holiday of his own.

There are some very good boarding catteries out there but, unfortunately, there are some dreadful ones too. The Feline Advisory Bureau inspect catteries and provide a listing of all those that have achieved the high standards recommended by the FAB regarding construction, management and day-to-day care.

However, not all catteries apply for FAB listing and there are good ones that have somehow slipped the net. There is no substitute for doing your own groundwork and investigating the local catteries.

  • Make an appointment to view the cattery. If the owner refuses to show you the premises, look elsewhere.
  • Try to stick to those establishments that purely board cats if your cat isn’t used to dogs.
  • Check out the surroundings: are they neat and clean?
  • Does the proprietor give you a warm welcome? Does he or she seem well informed on cat care and running a cattery?
  • All catteries should be licensed by the local authority, so don’t be afraid to ask to see their license.
  • Ask the proprietor what provisions are made to quarantine sick animals (some catteries have a separate enclosed isolation pen).
  • Ask to see the food preparation area and the place where the litter trays are cleaned. Ensure there are separate utensils for use with each pen.
  • The accommodation for each cat should have a separate enclosed and insulated sleeping area and an individual exercise run.
  • The pen should be warm, dry and secure and big enough to accommodate food, water, scratching posts, litter tray, toys and space for the cat to run around. There should be larger pens available to enable cats from the same household to be kept together.
  • Indoor catteries should be avoided as they are difficult to ventilate and may promote the spread of airborne disease. An outside space for cats is in any case much more entertaining for them.
  • The pens should be heated in the winter and well ventilated in the summer, with plenty of shade.
  • Leading to each pen there should be an outer enclosed corridor leading to each pen that is securely locked at all times to provide additional security.
  • Between each unit, there should be gaps (minimum 2 feet [60cm]) or full height sneeze-barriers between each pen to prevent the spread of airborne diseases.
  • Cats should have somewhere to hide within the pen and a high shelf for resting.
  • A nice view from the outside run would be great to give the cats something to look at during their stay.
  • The cattery should have no strong odour of cleaning products or faeces or urine.
  • The cats in residence when you visit should look alert and interested. The food bowls should be empty or a significant portion eaten to suggest their appetites are good and all is well.

Vicky HallsA good proprietor will ask for copious information about your cat - name, age, eating habits, likes and dislikes and especially whether or not he is longhaired. This is good news because it shows he or she understands the need to groom him on a daily basis. He or she will allow you to bring bedding, scratching posts and other things from home to make your cat feel settled.

You will be requested to provide an up-to-date vaccination certificate and a medical history with full details of any medication or special requirements your cat may have, for example some older cats find ramps up to sleeping areas a little difficult, so provisions should be made to ease the transition to the sleeping quarters.

If you are satisfied on all counts, then this is a good cattery! It also means that they will be very busy, so book a long time in advance and be prepared to plan many months ahead for future holidays. You may even want to try a long weekend to start with, to ensure your cat is as happy with the establishment as you are.

About The Author

The Complete CatVicky Halls, author of bestselling Cat Confidential and Cat Counsellor, has written the essential reference book for all cat owners. The Complete Cat is a comprehensive and practical guide that covers every aspect of cat ownership - from the original decision to buy a kitten to a layman's guide to the most common illnesses and diseases.

Halls is one of the UK's leading cat behaviour specialists and is currently working on a major television series.

The Complete Cat is available from all good bookshops for £14.99 or online at Amazon for £9.89.

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