Cat boarding and the delicate nature of cats
18th September 2014
When it comes to pets, cats are a very, very specific companion to have. I think that every cat owner reading this article will nod in agreement when I say this. Purring, meowing and hissing, cats are by far the most demanding pet of all the traditional pets I've looked after. A close friend of mine who works in a zoo shop said it best: in most cases, it's easy to understand dogs, parrots or even iguanas, but cats remain a mystery; elegant kings and queens in shiny fur who are always ready to surprise you.
All of this means that when it comes to cat boarding, you really do your homework on your local boarding facilities. Of course, this comes only after you've actually assessed if such an option fits your cats character and preferences.
Cats are different
I know I've already mentioned that you need to consider how your pet would feel in an environment that is a) unfamiliar and b) full of other pets. If this holds true for dogs – as I elaborated in my “Dog boarding: Social & fun...if you choose the right facility“ article, you can be sure that the significance of boarding assessment becomes amplified when you have a cat.
This is due to cats' overall solitary nature and the “lone wolf” attitude they often exhibit. A cat is more likely to withdraw and react harshly to an unfamiliar environment. The lack of pack mentality present in cats – as opposed to dogs' behaviour, can lead to serious complications in group gatherings.
But wait, I don't say that cat socialisation is a myth or it's a very rare occasion. What I mean is that you need to consider your cat's character and monitor his or her behaviour even more closely. Cats are very, very prone to experiencing stress in a new environment and that's something you surely want to avoid.
Things you need to look for in a cat boarding facility
So it's clear that when looking for the suitable cat boarding facility for your meowing ball of fur you have to be very strict. I'll skip the part where I elaborate on why you need to go and visit the place in person, it's common sense. What I want to mention are the things you need to check when you actually pay a visit.
Prepare your checklists! A boarding establishment which deems itself professional has to answer a swarm of criteria coming from a squinting cat owner. There really is no single most important thing I can put my finger on when it comes to boarding facilities. A place where you can leave your cat safely is a mix of various guidelines that have been strictly followed.
You'll want to board your cat in a clean facility which is also well-ventilated and devoid of any chemical odour. Any professional establishment is spacious – your cat has both its privacy and a room big enough to move freely and maneuver in any way it wishes to. A peaceful environment and lack of noise are vital too, as this reduces the risk of your cat becoming stressed. Lighting matters as you surely don't want your cat lurking in constant darkness and getting depressed because of a total lack of natural (or artificial) light.
There are a lot of mixed boarding facilities – meaning a place where both dogs and cats are looked after. In such cases you absolutely have to make sure that pets are divided.
I really wish to make a point about your cat’s schedule here. By schedules I mean the daily exercise time and playing hours for the cats that are taken care of. Make sure that the staff have both of these in mind and that your cat won't lie around being inactive for their time there. You'll also do well to check the facility health guidelines for pets being brought there – intermingling with other cats can be a risk if yours or others haven't had their vaccinations kept up-to-date. Lastly, your cat might have special dietary needs – if so, discuss this with staff members to learn more about available food options.
There really are a ton of questions you may – and actually can ask, but I think these are the basics to ensure you're sending your cat into a good cat boarding facility. Hopefully, it will be an experience your cat will thoroughly enjoy so next time you are out of town you have an alternative at your disposal.
Oh, and a little tip which is more specific (as cats themselves!): your cat might cope better with the unfamiliar environment if you bring a familiar object from home. A toy, a piece of clothing or even a blanket amongst many other things can really work wonders. Try this out!
Article written by our resident Pet Blogger, Alexander Dimitrov
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