You’re planning an extended holiday, but there’s just one problem. You can’t bring your cat with you, and you need to figure out how to care for your cat while you’re away. Catteries may sound like the perfect solution, but your cat may not think so.
Catteries are stressful for most cats. Unless a cat has been habituated to going to a cattery from a young age, they will likely experience a substantial amount of stress from staying in a cattery. The amount of stress depends somewhat on the quality of the cattery.
But there are things you can do to help reduce the stress your cat experiences while you’re on holiday, including picking a quality cattery or choosing a cattery alternative. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know to make the right decision for your cat.
Why are Catteries Stressful for Cats?
Staying in a cattery may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is for your cat. And stress is a big deal for cats. They are more likely to get ill, and they may stop eating or experience lasting behavioral changes.
There are several reasons a cattery, even the best of the best, might be stressful for your cat.
Cats Don’t Like Change
Cats are territorial animals. They stick to their territory, and most of the time, they aren’t into adventuring in new places.
If you’ve ever had to move into a new apartment or house with a cat, then you know what we mean. Cat will hide or try to escape the new home and return to their old territory. Eventually, with a lot of love and patience from their owners, cats will settle into the new home.
Going to a cattery is a very similar experience for the cat, except that they don’t have their family to help them get adjusted.
Cats Don’t Know if You’re Returning
Cats absolutely form bonds with their owners, but they don’t know what you’re saying when you tell them you’ll be back for them in a week. When you leave them at the cattery, they might think you’re leaving them for good.
This is especially true if your cat has been abandoned in the past or experienced other trauma in their past.
Cats Don’t Like Other Cats
While feral cats live in groups, these groups usually consist of related cats. For domesticated cats, this family group might include you, your children, or other pets in the home.
Your cat might get along with the other felines in your home. He may even like hanging out with your dog, but cats don’t like other cats that aren’t part of their family.
Even if the cattery doesn’t allow cats to share space (and they shouldn’t), your cat could smell those other cats or smell the cat that stayed in its condo previously. This will cause them stress as they will think they need to protect their territory from an unseen menace.
Kitty Condos Tend to be Small and Boring
Not all kitty condos are the same, but many are small and offer little in the way of entertainment for your cat. If your cat is used to having free reign of the house, a small cubicle may not offer enough room for an active cat to exercise, and he may become bored, which leads to stress.
Some of these things will depend on the temperament of your particular cat. Some cats are more resilient than others. If you have an adventurous, adaptable cat, then a cattery will not be as stressful.
Do Cats Settle in a Cattery?
This depends on your cat. Some cats will adapt after a day or two, and others will pine away. If your cat is already prone to stress, then he probably won’t do well at a cattery. More resilient cats will fare better, but even cats that aren’t overly skittish may struggle with being in a cattery.
It is important to have a plan b. If your cat doesn’t take the cattery and you’re planning an extended trip, you may want to see if a family member or neighbor that they are familiar with can pick them up and bring them home where they will be more comfortable.
How to Pick the Best Cattery for Your Cat
A subpar cattery will definitely be stressful for your cat, but there is a lot a cattery can do to help your pet feel comfortable and reduce the amount of stress it is under.
Here is a checklist of things you should look for in a cattery:
- Does the cattery have ways to ensure your cat doesn’t escape? It is very likely that a cat will attempt to escape the cattery and return to their home. Of course, if the cattery is nowhere near your home, your cat will just end up getting lost (or worse). Be sure the cattery has measures in place to keep your cat in the cattery.
- How often do workers interact with your cat? The more 1-on-1 time your cat gets, the better. If you don’t think your cat would like to be pet by cattery workers, a cattery might not be the best place for him.
- What is the cattery’s schedule? A good cattery will operate on some kind of schedule, even if it is a loose one. Cats don’t like surprises. They like routine. If the cattery feeds and plays with cats on a schedule, it will help reduce stress.
- What can cats do in their kitty condos? The best catteries will have some way for cats to entertain themselves. Some catteries have fish tanks for cats to watch or windows.
- What do kitty condos look like? The kitty condos should be clean and in good repair. They should have multiple levels, and the kitty pan should be separate from the area the cat will sleep or sit. The bigger the kitty condo, the better, but the space the size of a closet with multiple levels is fairly common.
- Are cats kept separate from other cats? Cats should be kept separate from other cats. This helps prevent them from spreading diseases, but it also makes the cats more comfortable. Remember, cats aren’t into socializing with cats that aren’t in their family.
- Are cats kept where they cannot hear dogs? Smelling or hearing dogs can make a cat feel stressed. The area where cats are kept should be as far as possible from the area where dogs are kept.
- Do they use vet-approved pheromone plugins? These pheromones are a natural way to reduce stress in cats.
- Is the cattery kept at a comfortable temperature? Cats prefer warmth. If you take a tour of the cattery during the winter, be sure it is kept plenty warm.
Don’t forget to listen to your gut. If a cattery doesn’t feel right or the caretaker doesn’t seem warm or particularly fond of cats, it probably isn’t the best place for your cat.
Are Cats Better at Home or in a Cattery?
Most cats do better if they are allowed to stay in their home. Even though they may still experience stress because you aren’t there, it won’t be anything to the stress of being in a completely new environment.
Many people choose to hire a pet sitter to feed their cat (and other pets). For some cats, this is still a stressful option. They miss the companionship their owners provide and may still worry if their owner is going to return. However, if you have other pets in the home for your cat to bond with, that stress may be less.
A pet sitter typically spends a short amount of time with your pets. So if your pet gets hurt or there is another emergency in your home, they may not notice as quickly as a housesitter would.
The best choice is to have a housesitter stay in your home. Your home will be safer overall, and your cat will get the affection and attention it craves. It is best if this is someone you trust and who is already friendly with your cat, but there are reliable companies in most areas that offer these services.