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Catteries: a Home Away from Home

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You may hate the thought of being separated from your cat, but if you are going away and don’t have anyone to care for your pet, then cattery facilities at a pet boarding kennel may be the safest option for her. Reputable catteries will keep your cat safe, provide her with stimulation and attention during the day, attend to grooming, and make sure that she eats well.

See with your own eyes

Never make a booking purely on what you are told on the phone. “You must go out and see the place,” says Audrey Kenny of Pashapaws Cattery. “Ideally, you’d want the cats to be separated by partitions so they can’t see each other and spray.” Cats prefer a quiet environment with a good place to snuggle up or play when they want to. Lighting and ventilation in the quarters should be adequate. Dogs must be kennelled away from cats as the constant barking can unsettle them. If the weather is particularly cold, there should be some form of safe heating.

Vet check

If your cat is going to a cattery, it is advisable to first take her for a full check-up at the vet. Most reputable boarding facilities will ask to see a copy of your pet’s vaccination certificate anyway, so make sure that vaccinations and boosters are up to date before you book. Dr Ryan Friedlein of Fourways Veterinary Hospital says that it is very important to make sure your cat is in good health before you board her. “Vaccinating your animal primes her immune system against certain diseases, with the boosters strengthening immunity,” he explains. “It’s important that vaccinations be regularly boosted and updated in order to provide your pet with optimum immunity and protection against disease exposure.”

What to check

Before booking your cat in at the cattery, have a look at the following:

* Do the quarters look and smell clean? Illness can spread rapidly in unsanitary conditions, especially gastrointestinal viruses which result in diarrhoea. “Depending on the level of contact that the cats have with each other, viruses can be transmitted through saliva, urine, fighting and nasal excretions,” says Dr Friedlein. “It’s very important that the facility chosen be reputable. Ideally, the cats should be kept separate from each other. They should also enforce strict cleaning and disinfectant protocols.”

* What is the policy on diet?  If the cattery supplies a good quality cat food, and your cat isn’t on a special diet and isn’t fussy about meals, you can let the kennel supply her food. “If your cat is on a specific diet, such as for weight or hairball control, then feeding abnormal diets may precipitate problems such as gastrointestinal upsets,” says Dr Friedlein. “In this case, rather supply your own food.”

* Are cats groomed during their stay? Daily grooming is especially important for long-haired breeds, like Persians. It also ensures that your cat gets individual attention on a daily basis. You may be asked to bring in a grooming kit.

* Can you bring in your cat’s personal bedding and toys? Some catteries don’t allow it, but do ask. It’s something familiar from home that will be a comfort to your cat.

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* Do the cats have adequate stimulation? Boarding catteries should supply equipment like scratching posts, cages with different levels for stretching and jumping, and an outdoor area where they can spend part of the day. Your cat shouldn’t be left in the enclosure without human contact for the duration of her stay – ask about the policy on human interaction. It’s also good to find out the maximum number of cats they cater for, and the staff/cat ratio.

* Does a vet do regular inspections at the cattery? Some catteries have an on-site veterinarian, while others secure the services of a vet for a few hours a day. Either is fine. Just make sure that your cat will be checked during any extended stay. Also request that your own vet be contacted if your cat does get sick.

Text: Gina Hartoog
Photography: Julia Pivovarova and Adam Edwards

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