The Christmas holidays are fast approaching, which may involve a trip to visit relatives or if you’re lucky a vacation. The chances are your feline family member isn’t invited along (rightly or wrongly), which means you need to make sure they’re safe and taken good care of while you’re away.
You have a choice between a pet sitter coming into your home or taking your cat to board at a cattery. But it can be hard to know which option is best, and how to decide between the two.
A good place to start is by thinking about your cat as the individual they are. For example, are they a young, active cat inclined towards mischief, or a senior cat content to sleep on the sofa all day? Indeed, if there’s a chance your cat is going to hurt themselves or get into trouble whilst you’re away, a cattery may offer you the best peace of mind.
To clarify your thinking, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, write cattery on one-half and pet sitter on the other. Now read through the points below and jot down the pros and cons in the relevant sections as they occur to you. Then review what you’ve written to see which option comes out a whisker ahead.
Is Your Cat Adaptable or Stressy?
You know your cat better than anyone else. Some felines hate disruption to their routine and if put in a cattery will curl up and refuse to eat for days, whilst others are purrfectly at ease with the change. The trouble is it can be difficult to predict what will happen until you try.
Clues to adaptability are the cat that confidently greets visitors to your home, and loves a fuss on the front drive when kids walk by. The stressy cat is more likely to run and hide when guests arrive, and turn tail when the neighbour’s kids come home from school.
Adaptable cats are just that, and may look upon a cattery visit as an interesting change of scenery. Whilst the stressy cat is going to be happier at home in a familiar environment, as long as they’re safe and checked on regularly.
In the Pawesome Cats family we have both adaptable and stressy cats. Amber is definitely a scaredy-cat who will run and hide when guests arrive or there’s too much noise. Max, is much more laid-back and wants to befriend every visitor to the house, so for him, a visit to the cattery is an exciting adventure and an opportunity to make new friends.
Is Your Cat Mischievous or Laid Back?
Of course some of the most confident cats are also the most mischievous. If your cat is likely to get bored and start swinging from the curtains, then the stimulation provided by a cattery is going to be a good option.
Likewise, an older cat whose ambition is to clock up yet more hours of catnaps, could do equally well at home or in a cattery. But bear in mind that cats love the familiarity of their territory, so many cats will be more disturbed by the loss of a favourite view than they are by the loss of human company.
Is Your Cat in Good Health?
If you have a cat that is older or prone to poor health then the cattery versus pet sitter question requires some serious thinking. If your cat adapts to a cattery then the constant supervision is worth its weight in gold because any problems can be detected early and a vet consulted.
In the home, a sick cat may hide, which makes it difficult for a pet sitter to assess your cat’s demeanour and work out if he really is sick or just upset at your absence. Also, your cat might have symptoms, which are intermittent and therefore missed by a pet sitter on twice-daily visits. However, this is weighed against the cat staying in a familiar place where they feel relaxed, and therefore less subject to stress.
For Charlie, our IBD kitty, the cattery versus pet sitter decision is a difficult one. He has periods where he requires medication, but his health condition is also impacted by stress, so the less stressful option is always best. We always base our decision on how he is doing at the time.
Is Your Cat on Medication?
If your cat takes tablets or has insulin injections, then you need to carefully assess the ability of the pet sitter or the cattery staff to meet these needs. Remember, giving insulin isn’t just about a twice-daily needle; it’s also about spotting signs when things go wrong and the cat becomes unwell.
Pet sitters and cattery staff usually have extensive experience with cats, and they often have veterinary qualifications too – but don’t make assumptions, ask the right questions, so you are comfortable with the level of care your cat will receive. If you don’t have access to someone with the necessary expertise, ask your veterinary clinic if they can board your cat in your absence, many vet clinics offer this service.
Is Your Cat a Good Traveller?
Last but not least, how good at travelling is your cat? If they confidently walk into their carrier with their tail high as a flagpole then great, but if they get motion sickness or howl continuously during a car journey (especially if you have to travel some distance to a cattery) you might want to think about letting them stay at home.
To a certain extent your choice might be influenced by the standard of care available in your area. For example, your preference might be a cattery, but if the local facility is dirty and the staff poorly trained, or also boards noisy, barking dogs then a reliable and responsible pet sitter is likely to offer better care.
Good luck with your decision, and don’t forget to let us know what you decided and why.