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How to choose a cattery

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When it comes to the family holiday the question arises who will look after the cat. Cats prefer their own surroundings so, if possible see if a friend or neighbour can help out. Most people do not like to impose on their friends and neighbours, who may even be away at the same time anyway. There are also cat sitters available, these are people who will come to your house and look after your cat. If none of these are an option for you the other place to look is for a cattery.

There are questions that you can, and must, ask when you approach a cattery. It is an idea to check the cattery out yourself, unless it is highly recommended by friends and family. Responsible kennels will only take fully vaccinated, neutered and healthy cats. Remember to book well in advance of your holiday as catteries can be, and usually are, fully booked at the popular holiday times, especially during the school holidays. All catteries should be licensed by their local authority. This license should be on display at the cattery. You can get in touch with the environmental health department of your local council who can confirm the license.

When you have a list of appropriate catteries make an appointment to visit them to check them out. Most places will happily let you do this. Do try to phone in advance so you don't turn up at cleaning and feeding times when everybody is busy.

Obviously the first impression you get of the cattery is the lasting one that you will take with you. The staff should be friendly and make you feel welcome, there should be no smell and relative quiet. The kennels themselves should be clean and tidy with no old food and no overly dirty litter trays in them. They should be escape proof, have good ventilation. If there are windows they should be non-opening and the wire of the units should be unbroken and be rust free. Check if the cattery also boards dogs, if so how far are they from the cats. If your cat is not accustomed to dogs then being housed in a strange environment with noisy dogs nearby can be very unsettling. Dogs can be very noisy in kennels.

Check with the cattery that they only accept cats that are vaccinated, and that the certificates are shown when the cat is handed in for boarding. All catteries will require that the cats boarding there have been vaccinated against cat flu and feline enteritis.

Check on the insurance cover that the cattery has. Which company do they use and if your cat falls ill will the insurance cover the veterinary bills or will you have to pay on your return.

There are two types of cattery accommodation, indoor and outdoor. Indoor catteries are individual units, opening off a central corridor, within an enclosed building. With this type of accommodation infection can be easily spread from cat to cat. This is because the air in these buildings remains the same and doesn't get renewed. The units should have separate areas for sleeping, eating and the litter tray. There should be enough room for the cat to move around for some form of exercise, some units may even have cat climbing frames. Access to daylight and fresh air are also factors which should be looked at when choosing a cattery.

Outdoor catteries are also individual units but they are much larger. The units should be separated from each other by a two foot gap, or a solid partition. This prevents cats spreading infection to one another by sneezing and touching. They are allowed no contact with each other. The units are built on a concrete base, for ease of cleaning and also less risk of infection being left by the previous cat. The unit will have an enclosed sleeping area which will be heated. The litter tray and feeding areas should be outside the sleeping area. The cats will probably be shut in the sleeping area at night, with its food and water. It may be a good idea to check that the sleeping area is heated for your cats needs. If your cat is elderly check that the heating will be left on especially in the colder months and always at night.

When you have picked the cattery you want to board your cat in, remember to take your vaccination certificate with you. It is a good idea to put your cat into the cattery a day or even two days before you leave on your holiday. It will take longer than you think to deposit the cat. You will more than likely have to fill in a form with the details of your cat. The question asked will be name, age, eating habits, special prescription diet, medication, medical history, your veterinary surgeons name and number and grooming requirements. The cattery may charge extra for giving medication and grooming over and above the normal daily groom. If your cat is on a special diet, you should provide the cattery with that diet. It would be worth leaving a contact number for yourself or a friend or relative who can make a decision on your behalf should your cat fall ill and have to attend the vet.

When choosing a cattery remember do not accept second best, you want your pet to be as well looked after and as happy as possible. When you are satisfied you have found the perfect place then go off and enjoy your holiday. Puss will probably enjoy the holiday too.

If you are travelling in the UK it is worth remembering that there are plenty of pet friendly hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses which will welcome you and your cat.

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