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Cattery or Cat Sitter?

Lisa Sinnott considers the pros and cons of boarding versus a pet sitter for a cat’s optimum

wellbeing when his guardians are away from home


© Can Stock Photo/Vapi

In a cattery environment, the sight and sound of other felines may cause stress and anxiety

n this article, I will seek to determine whether boarding at a cattery or in-home visits from a pet sitter are the most preferable option for a cat’s wellbeing while his guardians are away. Starting with a cattery stay, the first thing to note is that traveling to and from the facility in the car will be disruptive and most likely stressful for the average cat. From a safety aspect, placing the cat carrier in a section of the car that is enclosed, such as a secured crate or somewhere it can be strapped in if no one is there to hold it, is sensible in case an accident occurs. Bear in mind, too, that many cats dart behind the sofa and refuse to come out at the appearance of the cat carrier, so it is good practice to keep it out at all times. This will help convince the cat that it is a cozy extra bed for him to relax in and will, hopefully, help to habituate him to the carrier (Ellis & Bradshaw, 2016). Conversely, leaving your cat at home and having a pet sitting company come in to take care of him avoids all this travel and potential stress. At home, your cat is more likely to be comfortable and is certainly knowledgeable about his environment. He will have familiar hiding places to retreat to, such as under the bed or behind the sofa. In catteries, hiding places can be adapted by having an igloo bed, a cardboard box, or using a blanket to cover an area. Providing you don’t restrict your cat to certain areas of the home while you are away, his litter box, food and water will be in a familiar location while the bowls, litter tray and litter choice will be the same. In a cattery, you could take these same, familiar items along to 40

BARKS from the Guild/July 2018

Photo: Lisa Sinnott

Habituating cats to their carrier so they have a positive association with it removes one potential stressor when it comes to traveling

help reduce the cat’s stress while not in his home environment. If the cattery uses their own bowls, Halls (2010) recommends they are wide enough so the cat’s whiskers don’t knock the side and also that they are placed in an area where the cat can see 360 degrees around so he feels safer about his resource not being invaded. It is recommended that the cat’s litter box is in a quiet area away from the food and water to avoid contamination. This can be slightly more difficult in a cattery as there is often one small area that the cat stays in. Litter trays and food bowls should be washed in separate areas to avoid cross contamination too. There should be a few water outlets to encourage cats to drink; tuna juice can help a cat who tends not to drink much to consume more water. Pet drinking fountains can also be helpful in this respect. Elevated places are ideal for cats and can help them feel safer as they can observe their territory from a height.

Stressful Environment

A lot of catteries have specific opening and closing times, meaning that if your flight home was delayed for any reason, then potentially your cat may have to spend another night away from home in the cattery. In this sense, it is important to check how many cats are in the cattery at one time to ensure there is a procedure in place and room for your cat if this occurred. Aside from the extra cost involved, it would mean another night away from your pet if you were a few hours late.

Profile for The Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild July 2018  

BARKS from the Guild is the bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, p...

BARKS from the Guild July 2018  

BARKS from the Guild is the bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, p...