In deciding whether a cat sitter or a cattery is best for your cat, it is worth considering the character of our feline friends. Cats are known for their independent nature, which is just one of the qualities that makes them such great pets! Most cats will be perfectly happy being left alone during the day if, for example, you go out to work.
As cats snooze for around two-thirds of their day (and even more in their senior years), they should be fine left to their own devices for shorter periods, as long as you give them plenty of love and quality playtime when they’re awake!
However if you’re going to be away for longer than a day, you’ll need to make sure that your cat is properly cared for. If you can’t find a willing friend, try a cat cattery or use a cat sitting service.
Home sweet home
Cats are home-loving, territorial creatures, so try to find a way for your cat to be looked after at home when you go away. They’re unlikely to feel stressed if they’re in their usual environment with its familiar scents, sights, and sounds. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a cat-friendly acquaintance who’s happy to pop in to feed them, clean their litter tray, provide fresh water, and give them some TLC!
The next best alternative to a trusted friend, family member or neighbour is a professional house sitter, who’ll stay in your home while you’re away to care for your cat in their usual day-to-day environment. As well as keeping an eye on your cat, they will also water any houseplants and keep your home looking “lived-in” to deter burglars.
There are alternatives to house sitters. You may wish to try a professional pet sitter or cat sitting service, for example. Services vary per person or company, but you can usually expect a pet sitter or cat sitting service to come to your house at least twice a day to feed your furry friend, play with them and clean out their litter tray.
For peace of mind, you may decide to keep your cat indoors while you’re away. Not only will this mean they’re always there when the pet-sitter calls, but you’ll be more relaxed knowing that they’re not getting into any trouble in the big outdoors.
Agreeing terms with your cat sitter
Before you agree on terms with a professional cat carer, discuss the following questions to get a better feel for your sitter:
- What experience does the person have with cats?
- What insurance does the professional have in place? Ask to see their documents for peace of mind.
- Do they have references?
- Are they self-employed or do they work for a pet-care agency? If they work for an agency, what extra services does the agency provide (e.g. a replacement if your sitter falls ill)?
- Once you’ve found your perfect cat carer, the next thing you need to do is give them a clear and comprehensive list of instructions about your cat and, if relevant, your home. You might find it helpful to meet with them in person to discuss your pet’s needs and then leave them written instructions.
- As well as your contact details, write down your cat’s feeding instructions, any special dietary or behaviour requirements, their favourite games to play, and any restrictions you have – for example, where they are and aren’t allowed in the house. If your cat is exclusively an indoor cat, make sure they know that!
- They’ll also need to know what brand of cat litter you use and what food and treats you give, in case they run out whilst you are away.
Being prepared for emergencies
- Of course, accidents and illness do happen, whether you’re there or not, so as well as learning the skills yourself, make sure your cat sitter or carer is qualified in feline first aid. It’s also a good idea to leave them a list of instructions about any current medical issues your cat may have and, if relevant, how and when to administer any medication.
- Most importantly, make sure the sitter has all of your contact details, plus those of a back-up in case they can’t reach you. Leave your vet’s contact details too, as well as your cat’s microchip information (if relevant), plus any necessary veterinary and medical history.
- Although it may seem a little morbid, speak to your cat sitter about what you’d like to happen if your cat was to suddenly fall ill or pass away in your absence. Even though it’s a hard subject to discuss, it means you both know what the process is for every worst-case scenario, which could avoid any unnecessary heartache later.
Don’t be worried about asking too many questions – a professional cat carer won’t mind at all. They’re more likely to see it as a sign of a good owner and will be more than happy to chat about their professional services with a fellow cat lover. Remember, it’s not just your precious cat that you’re giving them responsibility for, you’re also handing over your house keys!
Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and your vet are good starting points but do your homework too. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable about the arrangement, follow your gut instinct and find another cat sitter or cattery.
Whichever service or person you choose, allow your pet sitter and your cat to meet one another before you leave them in each other’s care.
If you can’t decide between a cat sitter or a cattery, it is best to look into both options thoroughly. For that reason, it’s important to do your research to find a reputable, licensed cattery with knowledgeable, caring staff and good, clean, comfortable facilities. The International Cat Care website offers some excellent advice on choosing a boarding cattery, as well as questions to ask when you visit.
We always recommend you visit a cattery in advance to make sure it is clean and that the cats there look warm, relaxed, and happy. You’ll know if it’s somewhere where your cat will fit in and be comfortable.
Also, make sure that the boarding cattery is licensed, as that means they must adhere to various regulations regarding hygiene and safety. A copy of their licence should be displayed prominently.
You will be asked to provide proof of up-to-date vaccinations before your cat can be boarded at any cat cattery. It’s also a good idea, in case of emergencies, to provide the cattery with your vet’s details, your cat’s microchip details, and a record of any relevant veterinary history. If your pet is on any medication, make sure you leave clear instructions on how and when to administer them, as well as anything you’d like them to know about dietary or behavioural issues.
The more they know about your cat’s likes and dislikes, the calmer your cat will be, so both you and your pet can relax during your break!
It’s natural to worry about leaving your pet in someone else’s care, but a reputable cat sitter or cattery will give you peace of mind that your pet is happy and healthy while you’re away.