Should I Board My Cat Or Leave Them At Home?

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Your annual vacation is booked, the dates are locked in and you are on the countdown to a much-deserved break. All of us look forward to and enjoy a good holiday, pet owners included! However, making sure our feline family members are well cared for and looked after is an important part of the planning process and a major concern for many cat owners.

Key Takeaways

Cat owners predominantly choose between using a cattery or a pet sitter when they go on holiday. Some owners may choose to take their cat away with them, although this is less common.

The best option for the care of your cat depends on many factors including the health and personality of your feline family member and the type of boarding and cat-sitting options you have available to you.

It is not advisable to leave your cat home alone for extended periods of time (greater than 12-24 hours) without leaving someone in charge of tending to your cat’s needs.

There are plenty of options to choose from, and ultimately you know your cat best and are best placed to pick the option that is right for them.

Also Read: Best 20 Cat Hotels To Make You Purr

Cat Boarding Facilities

cat in cattery

Boarding catteries provide a safe place to leave your cat whilst you are away from home.

Booking your cat into a cattery or cat hotel is a ‘safe bet’ option. You can head off on vacation safe with the knowledge that your cat is secure and cared for. Many boarding services are regulated or independently reviewed so you know they are qualified to meet your cat’s needs.

They are run by professionals who are likely to know what to do in the case of an emergency and are often well-skilled in administering medication, as well as providing the basic facilities of food, a water bowl, litter box, etc.

On the flip side, even the most gregarious of cats will likely find a stay in a cattery stressful to some degree as they are in a strange, new environment surrounded by multiple other new cats. Bear in mind, most catteries will require advanced notice your cat is coming to stay and for your kitty to be up to date with their vaccinations.

Pros

  • Guarantee a safe and secure space for your cat.
  • Run by animal care professionals with experience in medicating and caregiving.
  • Often affiliated with or work closely with a veterinary clinic.

Cons

  • Can be costly.
  • Most cats will find being away from their own home and surrounded by unfamiliar cats somewhat stressful.
  • Less flexible: requires advanced booking plus drop-offs and pick-ups at designated times

Cat boarding facilities are a go-to if you do not have a trusted friend or family member to care for your cat at home. They are also a great option if you have a high-needs fur baby that needs special care or medication, or you feel may need veterinary attention in your absence. Catteries are also a safe place for a new or nervous cat whom you fear may bolt or wander off from home if you are not there.

Also Read: How Long Can You Leave A Cat Alone?

In-Home Cat Sitter

cat weaving around a person's legs

Being able to stay in their home environment may be less stressful for your cat.

Another popular option is to enlist someone you trust to come and look after your cat in their own home. If a friend, neighbor, or relative is able to do so, it is often the most cost-effective way to look after your cat’s well-being whilst you are away.

Bear in mind that cat-sitting duties should extend beyond merely making sure that your cat has fresh water and enough food; ideally, your designated pet sitter should socialize with and engage in playtime with your cat, should they be comfortable to do so.

This is often a low-stress option for your cat as they remain in their own, trusted environment, and bonus points if their cat sitter is someone they already know and like!

If you are not fortunate enough to know someone happy to care for your cat, some companies provide this service, although the availability of in-home pet care varies from area to area. Sites such as Trusted Housesitters are one such site that matches pet sitters with families looking for in-home pet care.

This can often be combined with other basic house-sitting tasks such as bringing the mail in and watering plants. Although it often comes at a premium, for households with multiple pets it can be an economical option.

Pros

  • Minimizes stress to your cat by keeping them in their own, familiar home environment.
  • Can be economical if a friend or family member is available to pet sit for you, or if you have a lot of cats to put into kennels.
  • Can be flexible to your dates and needs, and can be combined with other house-sitting tasks.

Cons

  • Experienced pet sitters may be difficult to find.
  • The level of supervision for your cat may vary depending on the pet-sitting arrangement you have.
  • Deluxe cat-sitting packages can be more expensive than a cattery or kennels.

If you’re fortunate to have an experienced and willing pet sitter in your life, this is an awesome option to keep your cat in their favorite place and minimize stress. Even if you don’t, consider a professional pet-sitting service if you have multiple cats to care for.

Taking Your Cat With You

cat in carrier by aeroplane

Travel may be suitable for some cats, but long journeys can be very stressful for others.

A less commonly favored option is to take your cat away on holiday with you. Whilst this is obviously the best way to avoid separation anxiety, its success is going to depend very much on your cat. If they are not used to traveling, then a potentially lengthy trip may be more stressful for them than staying at home or in a cattery.

You will also have to plan your trip logistics carefully to ensure you have pet-friendly accommodations and safe travel arrangements for your kitty. However, if you are a frequent traveler and your cat has been desensitized to travel, it may be a sound and cost-effective method for you.

Pros

  • You get to enjoy the pleasure of your feline family member’s company whilst on holiday.
  • It’s possible to avoid any extra costs for pet care on top of your holiday costs.
  • You know your cat best and are therefore best placed to monitor their health and well-being.

Cons

  • Traveling is often stressful for cats unless they have been well-acclimatized to it.
  • Extra logistical considerations surrounding the method of travel and accommodation.
  • Depending on your destination, access to emergency care or a veterinary clinic may be difficult.

In certain situations, taking your cat on holiday with you may be a feasible option. Consider taking your cat if: they are well accustomed to traveling; you are traveling a short distance or you are staying in a privately owned mobile home or holiday house.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Run Away From Home?

Your Cat, Your Decision

lady cuddling cat

There are a variety of options to keep your cat safe and happy whilst you are away from home.

Ultimately, the choice to travel with your cat, board your cat or hire a cat sitter is entirely yours to make as a responsible pet parent. Some ‘cat factors’ such as the age, health, and temperament of your cat are going to play a part.

Other factors may be out of your control, such as the availability of cattery bookings or pet sitters in the area. If in doubt, chat over your options with your veterinarian, and remember every cat needs a designated caregiver and not just an automated feeder!

Also Read: How To Kitten-Proof Your Home In 12 Steps

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to leave a cat with a sitter?

Travel away from home is often unavoidable. Pet owner options include a sitter or a boarding facility. A sitter can be less stressful for your cat, as they can remain in their own home.

Is a cat sitter or cattery better?

They both have advantages. Catteries guarantee a secure place to leave your cat, and are often run by people with a lot of experience with animals. Cat sitters can be more economical, and mean your cat can remain in their safe environment, with no need for travel or stressful experiences away from home.

Will my cat hate me if I leave for a week?

Cats love their routine, and can suffer from stress or separation anxiety if their owner has to be away. Leave something that smells like you, like a favorite blanket or article of clothing, and make arrangements to ensure they are well looked after when you are away. Give them plenty of fuss when you return and they should forgive you!

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About Dr. Alexandra Warner BVMS

Alexandra worked in mixed practices across the UK and Australia, treating creatures great and small. An expert in nutrition and behavior, she is now a senior veterinarian for a predominantly companion animal practice in the top of the South Island of New Zealand.