Life moves quickly, and last-minute vacations, business trips, and emergencies will pop up periodically. And if you can’t take your cat with you and can’t find a cat-sitter on short notice, it’s good to have a reputable kennel on tap in case you need it.
It’s not so bad
In some cases, it’s easiest to have friends or family visit your home periodically to refill food and water, change the kitty litter, and let your cat roam in the yard if she’s the type. But if it’s not possible, don’t fret: Boarding doesn’t have to be rough. After all, you don’t have to coop her up in a travel carrier for too long, plus she’ll get social interaction, exercise, and attention from trained personnel.
Of course, for every wonderful boarding environment, there’s another one that’s overcrowded, stressful, dirty, and staffed with lazy, untrained folks. So, how do you find the right one?
Picking the right place
A great place to start is a recommendation: Query fellow pet owners, your groomer, or your vet and ask for businesses they trust. Another place to start is the Pet Care Services Association (formerly the American Boarding Kennel Association). They can give you a list of referrals as well.
It’s also a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints about a kennel you are considering.
Once you’ve narrowed down the candidates, your next task is the most important: a site visit.
What to look for
Be sure to see all the places your cat may spend her time, including play areas, walk routes, and of course, kennel space. Your essential checklist should include:
· Is the kennel clean in both appearance and odor?
· Are the kennels well-lit and ventilated?
· Is the temperature controlled in hot or cold weather?
· Are the employees caring and professional?
· Is proof of current vaccinations required (rabies, feline distemper, etc.) to protect your cat and others?
· Does each cat have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise? Will your cat’s stay include an individual run (indoor/outdoor or indoor only with scheduled play and exercise time)?
· Are outdoor-exercise and play areas protected from the elements?
· Does the kennel area have bedding and raised areas so your cat can rest off the concrete?
· Are animals boarded separately according to species? (i.e. cats and dogs kept in separate areas)
· Are the kennels spacious enough for your cat?
· What is the feeding schedule and are you allowed to supply your cat’s own food?
· What emergency veterinary services are available?
· Do they offer grooming, training, bathing or medication administration?
· What are the fees and how are they determined?
If possible, have your cat spend the day there or even sleep over, especially before a long trip. This could be the best test of whether this kennel (or any kennel) is right for you and your kitty.