Although all UK premises are governed by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act of 1963, this act is quite vague in its requirements, so that premises vary considerably in standard.
What should I ask the owner of the cattery?
- Will they let you visit their establishment before your cat is booked in? You should always do this by appointment, as it is unfair to expect a busy cattery to show you around whenever you feel like visiting.
- How much will it will cost to keep your cat there?
- How much exercise will they get? Are they exercised in a run?
- What are the animals fed and can you bring your own cat-food? It is best that cats' diets are not changed since this coupled with the stress of being somewhere new could cause a digestive upset.
- How big are the sleeping quarters? Will your cat will have access to an outdoor run?
- What does the cattery want to know from you: do they insist on all cats being vaccinated? Will they want to see your vaccination certificate? Remember that if they are not strict about this then there is risk of transmission of diseases between animals.
- You will need to know whether or not your cat will have physical contact with other animals. Whilst it is a good idea for cats that live together to be housed together, from a veterinary viewpoint it is a very bad idea to house animals from separate households together, since one animal may harbour diseases that can be passed to another. An example is the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which is potentially fatal, and can be passed from one cat to another. There is no FIV vaccine so you cannot protect your cat.
- What would the cattery do if your cat became ill during its stay? Are they covered by an insurance policy? How often do they have a really good look at the animals? Would they notice if your cat was unwell?
- If your cat is on any medication then you will need to ask whether or not the staff will be happy to administer this. It is unreasonable to expect them to treat an animal without prior warning.
- Even the best of places can lose an animal. Although this is something that does not often happen, you should ask what they would do if this occurred. Do they have a sensible set of steps that they would follow to try to recover the animal, or do they seem rather disorganised and unsure of what they would do?
If I visit the cattery before sending my cat there, what should I look for?
The cats' living area should be airy and spacious, although the sleeping quarters need not be large since many animals prefer a smaller cosy area to sleep in. Is it warm enough? What sort of heating do they use? The premises should be clean and regularly disinfected. What sort of bedding is being used? Does it look clean? Look at the food preparation area: are there facilities for sterilising the food-bowls? How much attention do the animals receive? Many cats are inappetent when left at catteries: a bit of extra attention can help a lot with this.
What should I do when I have decided on a cattery?
Book your cat in quickly! You will probably be expected to pay a non-returnable deposit, so you must be absolutely sure that this is the cattery for your cat. When you take your cat there, bring its own blanket or cushion as this will smell of your home and provide comfort to your cat. Also if he or she has any toys then bring them too. Be sure to give the establishment a contact telephone number, or if this is not possible, the number of a relative or friend who will take responsibility for your cat should anything happen to it. Also, you should give them the name, address and telephone number of your veterinary surgeon. Remember to take your vaccination certificate, as they should demand to see it before admitting your cat.