Traveling can be a stressful proposition if you have cats that need care in your absence. It is inevitable that you will worry about your feline friends and wonder how they are faring while you are away. By following these cat boarding tips, you will ease some of your worries. What to do with your pet when you travel?
Choose Hotels Over Hospitals
If your cat is young and healthy, then a designated boarding hotel for pets is an ideal choice for your cat’s stay. While many of the smaller animal clinics and hospitals offer boarding services to their clients, be aware that your cat will not receive the level of care that you may expect. On Sundays, when many of these animal hospitals are closed, a staff member makes one to two brief appearances. For the remaining time until the hospital reopens for business on Monday, your cat will remain in a small cage in darkness. In some hospitals, if the only boarder present is a healthy cat, staff may not drop in at all on Sunday. The only reason that you should consider boarding your cat in an animal hospital is if your cat has a health condition that requires the daily administration of medication. If your cat has such requirements, check if a boarding hotel performs these services before you book your cat’s stay in an animal hospital.
Visit Cat Pet Boarding Facilities
Some modern cat pet boarding facilities that are exclusive to cats are equipped with playrooms, larger kitty condos and other creature comforts to make a cat’s stay cozy. Some also provide a web cam service that enables owners to observe their boarding pets from a remote location. Whether you opt for one of these palatial cat hotels or prefer the convenience of a closer facility that boards both cats and dogs, be sure to visit them before you book your cat’s stay. A reputable facility should allow you to take a tour to view where the cats are housed and cared for. Ask the staff member to walk you through a typical day for a cat when it boards in the hotel. Dropping in unannounced can reveal the true appearance and odor of the facility and the general attitude of the staff.
Conduct Your Own Investigation
In addition to the guided tour and visual inspections of cat boarding facilities, be sure to conduct your own investigative research. Take to the Internet to read client reviews of the facilities, and check with the Better Business Bureau to determine if any complaints have been filed. If any of your friends, neighbors or coworkers own cats, ask if they have ever boarded their cats in the facilities that your are considering.
Book Your Cat’s Stay Early
During peak travel times, such as the summer vacation season, major holidays and holiday weekends, boarding facilities tend to book up weeks to months in advance. Once you have selected a hotel that meets your loving standards for your kitty, be sure to secure the space for the necessary dates as soon as possible. When you schedule your cat’s stay, ask the staff about drop off and pick up times for your pet, and ask if there will be space for your cat to stay a few extra days if your return trip is delayed. Once your cat’s boarding event has been scheduled, ask if there are any health examination or vaccination requirements for boarding your cat at the facility, and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian during the required timeframe if necessary.
Cats pick up on subtle changes in the household routine. Some cats become anxious as they observe luggage emerging and getting packed. Try to carry out your packing tasks when your cat is snoozing in another room, and stash the luggage into a closet when you are not actively packing. The same strategy should apply when you pack for your cat.
Avoid Dietary Changes
Be sure to pack the food and treats that your cat is used to eating. Pack enough food for the duration of your cat’s stay, and then pack enough food to last an additional three days in case the stay is extended. Use the same formula when packing any medications that your cat requires. While many boarding facilities offer to feed your cat the food that they use, abrupt changes in diet can result in gastrointestinal upset and refusal to eat.
In addition to food and medications, some necessities that you should pack include these documents:
- A copy of your cat’s recent vaccination and health certificates
- A list of contact numbers for yourself in case of an emergency
- Contact information for your regular veterinarian in case your cat becomes ill
You may wish to pack a few comforts, such as a bed and a couple of toys, for your cat. Be sure to keep the size of the boarding condo in mind so that your cat does not feel cramped.
Address Your Cat’s Stress
As you bustle about during the final days before your trip, your cat may become stressed. Try not to alter your cat’s routine, and offer the usual amount of affection that your cat is used to receiving. Speak to your cat in reassuring tones. If your cat normally goes outdoors, sequester it indoors for the two days that precede the boarding event. When the departure day arrives, soothe your nervous kitty by placing an item in the carrier that has your scent, such as a t-shirt or a pillowcase. Once you arrive at the boarding hotel, ask the staff to place this item in the condo in which your cat will be housed.
Expect Some Angst
Many boarding facilities will allow pet owners to help settle their cats into the condos. If you can remain calm and refrain from emotional tears, this may provide you with a sense of relief to leave your cat behind once it is already settled in. However, your cat may not be so calm. As your cat enters an area where multiple cats are kept and pheromones are running high, expect some low growls or hisses from your normally sweet kitty. This is a natural reaction from an animal that is normally solitary or used to residing with specific other pets. Take comfort in the fact that most cats feel more at ease after a day or so of realizing that they are snug, secure and unthreatened within their condo. Cats also dislike change, and this period of adjustment is normal.
Going Home Is Unsettling
Just as your cat needed to adjust to the change of environment when arriving at the cat boarding facility, it may need to adjust once again when coming home. Do not be surprised if your cat seeks refuge under a bed or in another hiding nook for the first day or so. Keep your cat indoors during this period as it settles back into the familiarities of your home and acclimates to the regular routine once again.