Timber cattery with full-height sleeping accommodation,
weather protection screens
a boarding cattery can be both rewarding and fulfilling -
if you have the commitment and stamina. Caring for other people's
pets is a big responsibility and it takes dedication to cope
with the long days and the hard physical work. A cattery represents
a large call on your time; however, if it is the life for
you then you will gain great satisfaction from establishing
and running a high quality cattery.
you think that running a cattery might be the career for you,
seek out as much information as possible. It is worth viewing
a selection of catteries as there are different styles and
designs. Try and include one of those catteries which
have FAB Listing to give you an idea of good construction
and management. It can be all too easy to take on
or build a poor quality cattery if you have not done your
research. Be sure there is sufficient business available in
your location and catchment.
you buy an existing cattery this should give you an established
client list. You should also be free of planning permission
applications. Buying a home and business together may be a
large financial outlay. If considering this route the cattery
least conform to the CIEH Model Licence Conditions. Local
authorities are now enforcing these standards more stringently
and may not licence a cattery if they feel it does not comply
with these guidelines.
cattery with penthouse sleeping accommodation
buildings, for example wooden stable blocks, may be converted
into cattery accommodation although this option can sometimes
prove very expensive. Bear in mind you may need to apply for
planning permission 'change of use' and any conversion should
follow the same principles of good design.
people decide to erect a cattery either on their current property
or on the land of a newly purchased house. Before purchasing
a new property it is advisable that you check with the local
authorities to ensure that they will permit you to build a
cattery of the size you desire on the site.
boarding establishments are required to be licensed by the
local authority under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act
of 1963. The licence, which is granted in the name of the
owner, is issued annually. All catteries must have a current
local authority may attach conditions to the licence and use
the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Model
Licence Conditions & Guidance for Cat Boarding Establishments
(1995) as a guide. Alternatively, they may adapt these guidelines
to suit their own requirements. However, these guidelines
may change when the new Animal Welfare Bill comes into force.
the year your local authority will usually make one or more
visits to inspect your premises and this is normally carried
out by an officer from the Environmental Health Department
or a veterinary surgeon appointed by the local authority.
licence fee, which is decided by each individual local authority,
can vary enormously. If you are planning to purchase an existing
cattery, you should check the terms of the licence, as the
licence is issued to the owner personally rather than the
business. It is important to find out if there are any reasons
why the licence might not be renewed and to obtain permission
in writing from the local authority to transfer the licence
to your name.
you plan to build a new cattery you will need to apply to
your local authority for outline and detailed planning permission,
which can sometimes be a lengthy process. The local authority
will provide the necessary paperwork and advise on how to
proceed. Building Regulations may apply to specific types
of catteries. You may care to engage the services of a professional
architect to draw up plans for you, or do the work yourself.
FAB's working drawings for certain styles of cattery can be
used to support your planning application. If you decide to
employ a specialist cattery builder to construct your cattery,
they will usually offer a complete package and make a planning
application on your behalf.
your planning application is turned down by the local authority,
it is possible to appeal. Your local authority should provide
you with written reasons for the refusal.
cattery with penthouse sleeping accommodation
cattery with full-height sleeping accommodation
lifestyle rather than a job
a cattery is a way of life. Your clients will place complete
trust in you and rely on you for absolute security and excellent
care for their cats. Living on site is strongly recommended
to ensure the smooth running of the cattery and it should
never be left unattended for more than short periods of time
when cats are in residence.
busiest times in the cattery calendar are the times when everyone
else is off on holiday! Bank holidays, school holidays and
Christmas will obviously be your peak periods and you will
find that as your reputation is established, quiet times become
you have young children or other dependents who need care,
think carefully about the feasibility of starting a cattery
as the necessary early starts and weekend work can also present
problems. Taking a holiday and having a social life can also
be difficult. It is possible to close down for short periods
through the year if these are carefully planned. An alternative
would be to employ someone totally reliable, well trained
and familiar with your cattery to stand in for you.
running a boarding cattery is all about cats, a great deal
of time is spent talking to and reassuring owners and maintaining
a high quality business image. Ability to communicate clearly
and calmly is vital. If you do not like people this is not
the job for you!
on a cattery requires a large financial outlay and although
it is possible to make a reasonable living you may not necessarily
make a fortune! Do work through a business plan and take advice
on finance and all that is involved.
formal qualifications are needed to run a cattery at the present
time, although it is a great advantage for any cattery proprietor
to have training in cattery management. The FAB can provide
you with information on courses.
is certainly necessary to be fit and active to run a cattery
as daily tasks will include cleaning of every occupied unit,
preparation and delivery of at least two meals, administration
of any medicines, grooming, scrubbing and disinfection of
units between boarders, updating of daily records and business
paperwork, dealing with arrivals and departures, and general
cattery cleaning. There is a great deal of bending, stretching
and lifting involved. It is often an outdoor lifestyle - sometimes
in bad weather conditions.
tasks to be fitted into the work programme will include maintenance
of cattery buildings and gardens, along with bulk shopping
and overall business management (i.e. annual accounts).
you are nearing retirement age or planning early retirement,
do consider how long you intend to run the business. The need
for assistance if you become unwell or less active should
you take the plunge?
is of the utmost importance and benefit to the cats who need
boarding in your area that the catteries available to them
are well-run and successful. It is, of course, also important
to the proprietors and to the owners of the cats, but the
well-being of the cats comes top of the priority list! FAB
does not want catteries to fail, proprietors to struggle and
standards to drop; because along the way it is inevitable
that the boarding cats will lose out, even suffer, as a consequence.
We therefore urge that the first stage of planning by anyone
thinking of starting up their first boarding cattery is to
go through a process of thinking through the concept, the
idea, and the scheme to satisfy themselves that they really
are doing the right thing for them at the right time.
with all planning exercises, first write down your assumptions
about the issue; in this case whether you really want to do
this. This will oblige you to face up to the more difficult
matters! Having done so, set about convincing yourself that
this is for you. One approach to this is to address three
fundamental questions that must (ought to!) be applied to
any new business or new product line under consideration.
do these three questions mean in the context of someone, with
limited experience of starting and running his/her own small
commercial venture, considering becoming a boarding cattery
Is your concept of a service one that is realistic, meeting
a real demand in your area?
The service: Is it realistic for you to
create and run a cattery that offers boarding facilities to
cats whose owners live nearby?
The demand: Is there a need locally from
cat owners for boarding for their cats?
is quite likely that the answers to both of these questions
are affirmative, provided that the financial investment for
setting up the cattery and coping with the negative cash flow
during start up are both within your means. If you can satisfy
yourself that 'it' can indeed be REAL, then move on to the
This is largely a competitive issue. There are normally two
In the circumstances in your area, is it possible
for any new cattery to succeed?
there already too many catteries? Does supply already
your area so remote that the feline population is too
thinly spread to keep another cattery at satisfactory
If so, can your cattery succeed in the face of whatever competition
exists from existing catteries?
would owners choose you?
they do board with you once, will they (want to) keep
differentiates your cattery? What are its USPs (Unique
answer to questions about winning and local competitiveness
are less predictable than those about reality of service and
demand. These are questions that you must do your best to
answer for yourself. Remember, knowledge is everything! Rely
as little as possible on guesswork, presumption and especially
wishful thinking. Find out facts from as many different sources
as you can. Ask! It is astonishing how readily most people
will reveal what you want to know, even when the information
ought to be confidential.
The two key aspects to this are:
the enterprise - in this case, your cattery - be profitable?
running a successful cattery venture satisfy your own
PVCu cattery with dark coloured
of profitability can be somewhat different from the normal
criteria for most businesses. This is because by no means
everyone who runs a successful cattery does so primarily for
catteries are well run very successfully as the primary source
of income. Very, very few people get seriously rich by doing
so! For significant numbers, however, this is more of a (full
time) hobby that also generates a modest cash surplus. In
some cases the cattery is the secondary source of income in
a household where the other partner is gainfully employed
as the main contributing breadwinner. Irrespective of your
own goals for income, however, catteries cannot be run part
time, on the side!
you can know into which category you fall. But it does follow
from these considerations that are characteristic of boarding
cattery enterprises that the answer to the first part of the
'Worthwhile' question depends on what level of surplus is
acceptable to your circumstances. From FAB's perspective,
in which feline well-being is paramount, the answer is immaterial,
provided your financial goals are achievable and being achieved.
a cattery is very demanding, irrespective of whether you are
seeking a huge profit or a modest surplus, or will be satisfied
with just breaking even. There are life-style questions that
you must face up to:
you passionate about cats and their welfare, even when
they are spiteful, unwell or smelly with mucky bums?
the cats that you adore means dealing with their owners
- some of them will not be so adorable! Can you cope with
you got the support of your nearest and dearest?
that support continue when the stark reality of the commitment
and routine becomes apparent?
you up for the early mornings, long hours, menial tasks
and some disruption to weekends?
you realise how difficult it will become to get away for
you willing to be seriously out of pocket during the first
year or longer, dealing with the stress that often comes
with inexperience of managing a negative cash flow?
you truly reconciled to not becoming rich?
your answers to some of the above are negative, think again
about what you intend to do! But if your answers are 'Yes,
yes, I really want to do this' then your next step will be
more detailed planning.
you have read so far is mostly taken from Chapter 1 of the
FAB Boarding Cattery Manual.
It is a unique publication written with over 30 year's experience
of working with boarding catteries. It has recently been published
along with the FAB
Standard for Construction & Management of Boarding Catteries
and provides invaluable information and advice.
Cat Rescue Manual
FAB listed catteries display this sign
catteries must be licensed by the local authority who will
be guided by a publication called The Chartered Institute
of Environmental Health (CIEH) Model Licence Conditions &
Guidance for Cat Boarding Establishments (1995). However,
these guidelines may change when the new Animal Welfare Bill
comes into force.
www.cieh.org or contact The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
(CIEH), Chadwick Court, 15 Hatfields, London, SE1 8DJ, Tel:
0207 928 6006.
thanks to the following catteries for the use of their photographs
within this leaflet;
Pyjamas Cambridgeshire, Lynbrook Cattery Lancashire, Amber
Ley Cattery Derbyshire, Breighton Cats' Lodge Yorkshire and
Martlets Cattery Sussex.