cattery with outdoor runs showing units joined together. Full-height sneeze barriersensure
contact between cats from different households
Many people become anxious at the thought of leaving their beloved cat in someone else’s care while they are away, some to the extent that they feel quite unable to go on holiday, even for a couple of days. But there are excellent boarding catteries available. Question is, how do you gauge the quality?
the Right Cattery
Of course you may be lucky enough to live within a reasonable distance of a FAB Listed Cattery. These catteries have been inspected by FAB and measured against the FAB Standard for Construction and Management of Boarding Catteries. Given that both the construction and management are taken into account, Listing is a sure sign that the standards of cat accommodation and care are excellent. For a list of FAB Listed Catteries click here. FAB Listed Boarding Catteries will display the sign shown below.
Yellow pages, cat magazines, local newspapers, veterinary surgeries, local councils, pet shops, and even your friends can provide you with lists of licensed premises but the ultimate choice is your own. To make a reasoned decision you have to check out the catteries for yourself. Make an appointment to have a look around; a list of things to consider is given on the back page of this leaflet. If the cattery proprietor refuses to let you see the premises then go elsewhere.
Timber cattery - penthouse
easy to clean surfaces
PVCu cattery - walk-in style unit showing
Timber cattery showing safety passage – enabling a cat to be caught if it escapes from its run
Catteries are generally classified as outdoor (having an outdoor run for the cats) or indoor (having no outside run), according to the nature of the main area in which the units are constructed.
Most cats enjoy having an outdoor run; it also helps to ensure there is good ventilation and airflow to help prevent the spread of disease. FAB prefers catteries with outdoor runs.
While totally indoor catteries may seem cosy, the shared-air situation means that bacteria and viruses remain in the cats’ environment and can spread from cat to cat unless there is some form of ventilation.
cattery design should ensure that:
- The cat accommodation has a separate enclosed
sleeping area with its own individual exercise run. This
should be of appropriate size, warm, dry and secure.
- There is no possibility of cats within the cattery
(excluding those from the same household in the same
unit) coming into direct contact with each other. There
should also be no direct contact with any animal
outside of the cattery.
- Only cats from the same household are boarded
- Adequate ventilation and air are present to minimise the
danger of spreading air-borne diseases.
- There are gaps between units (minimum 0.6 m) or, if the
units are joined together, sneeze barriers. Full-height
barriers are essential to prevent cats sneezing on or
touching one another.
- Cats have an interesting view to stimulate them, a
scratching post and plenty of toys to play with.
- Cats have a shelf in the run for resting and basking in
Housing that offers any opportunity for cats from different households to come into contact with each other (or each other’s faeces) increases the potential for spread of disease and should be avoided. This includes catteries where lots of cats are kept together in large pens and those that use a common area as an exercise run. Cat cages without runs should also be avoided – cats need space to exercise and move around.
The sleeping areas may be a full-height house (like a small chalet which houses the cat’s bed and litter tray) or a ‘penthouse’ (a raised box off the ground). The latter is accessed by a solid ladder or ramp and the litter tray is usually placed outside, underneath the house. Each house should be insulated, lined with an impervious material (ie, fibreglass, polypropylene, melamine-coated hardboard) and enclosed to facilitate heating, but still allow the cats free access to their run through a cat-flap. All units should be individually heated so that each cat’s requirements can be catered for. Be aware that elderly or disabled cats may find the access ladder or ramp to penthouses difficult to climb.
good proprietor should:
- Ask for lots of information about your cat when taking your booking – name, age, sex, breed (if applicable); any special markings; its eating habits; its likes and dislikes; any particular foibles.
The proprietor should also ask if your cat is long- or short-haired. There may be an additional charge for grooming long-haired cats.
- Insist on up to date vaccination and to see a current vaccination certificate (remember to take the cat’s record of vaccination with you).
- Ask for your cat’s medical history and the name and number of your regular vet. It may be necessary for the cattery vet to contact your own vet in an emergency.
You may also be asked to sign a consent form in case your cat requires medication during its stay.
If your cat is already on medication check with the cattery to ensure they are prepared to administer it. All medicines must be carefully labelled. There may be a small charge for administering these.
Does your cat require a special diet? Discuss this with the proprietor – if it is a prescription diet you may have to provide this.
You will need to leave a contact name and telephone number for your destination or a friend or relative who can make decisions on your behalf – and make sure your contact is informed!
All catteries will require your cat to be up to date with its vaccinations against cat flu (herpesvirus and calicivirus), and feline infectious enteritis (or so-called panleukopenia), which is a highly contagious disease. Vaccinations for these diseases may be given as separate vaccines, but more commonly are given together as part of a
multicomponent vaccine. The required booster intervals will, to some extent, depend on which option is chosen.
Cats going into catteries must always be vaccinated against cat flu annually; if panleukopenia vaccine is given separately then, after the first booster at a year of age, subsequent boosters need only be given every 3 years.
information on vaccination...
or ailing cats
If your cat is elderly or suffering from a terminal disease, it is wise to discuss what you would like the proprietor to do in the unhappy event of the cat becoming very ill or even dying while you are away. It is helpful for the proprietor to know your wishes on this.
Book as early as you can – particularly during peak periods – because a good cattery will quickly be filled.
If you are planning to go abroad, pencil in a booking. You can finalise the dates assoon as you have flight details.
to pack for your cat
Usually a cattery will ask you to brinsome bedding for your cat. This will help it to settle in. Some catteries prefer to provide their own bedding but may still permit a small blanket, towel or item of clothing with which your cat is familiar. Do not wash it beforehand – it defeats the object of it having a familiar and reassuring smell. A favourite toy is also a good thing to take with you to the cattery.
Do not carry your cat in your arms to the cattery. Until it is inside the cattery, the responsibility for its safety is entirely yours.
Make sure you have a sturdy cat carrier, of ample size, solid enough to prevent the cat from escaping, yet providing sufficient air and a good view. Line it with several sheets of newspaper rather than the bedding that is intended for use in the cattery. Cardboard carriers have poor ventilation, are completely insecure if the cat is determined to get out and may fall apart if made wet. A cat may be sick or urinate in the car. It is wise to refrain from feeding your cat before travelling.
arrival at the cattery
On arrival at the cattery with your cat, always check that information on diet, medical history or medication has been clearly written down on your cat’s record card or booking contract. Check your contact’s name and number and reaffirm the date of your return and estimated time of collection. Should your return be delayed, do inform the cattery as soon as possible (make sure you jot down the telephone number of the cattery and take it with you).
All catteries must be licensed by the local authority which will be guided by a publication called The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Model Licence Conditions and Guidance for Cat Boarding Establishments
(1995). However, these guidelines may change when the new Animal Welfare Bill comes into force.
For more information, contact The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Chadwick Court, 15 Hatfields, London SE1 8DJ. Tel 020 7928 6006, www.cieh.org
thanks to the following catteries for the use of their photographs:
Cattery, West Midlands; Oaktree Cattery Cornwall, Palace Cattery Berkshire; and Riverside Boarding Cattery, Lincolnshire.
Updated October 2009
What you have read so far is taken from Chapter 1 of the FAB Boarding Cattery Manual. This is a unique publication written with over 30 years’ experience of working with
boarding catteries. Together with the FAB Standard for Construction and Management of Boarding Catteries it provides invaluable information and advice.
click here for more...