Dr. Debra Primovic
Here is a checklist of 10 important steps to consider before boarding your cat. Consideration of each of these items will help you and your cat have a good boarding experience.
Interview – Interview the kennel on the phone. Find out how long they have been in business and ask for references. Use those references. Make a surprise visit or tour the facility before you schedule the boarding. Notice the place is clean, smells, check out where the cats are boarded, if they have fresh food and water and a clean litter box, and if they seem….happy.
Look for Recommendations – Talk to a few kennels before you decide where to take your cat. Also, ask your friends or neighbors where they have boarded their pet and what their experiences have been. Recommendations go along way. Don’t go for the cheapest place. Go for the best place.
Determine Kennel Requirements – Does your pet need any special vaccines for this kennel? If so, what and when? Do they need a copy of the vaccine record? Can you supply your own food and treats? Can you leave any toys or his favorite blanket or bed?
Check out Kennel Staff – Find out about the consistency with the staff – is it the same person seeing your cat everyday or someone new? It is someone who knows about pets or a high school student shoveling food into the cages? Does the staff appear competent and do they look like they enjoy working with the cats?
What is the Cat’s Schedule? – How often do they go out of their cage? Is that enough space to make your cat happy? If you have multiple cats, will they be together or see each other?
Feeding Instructions – Consider taking your cats own food and request that they kennel only feed his food. Many pets are fed other foods and treats and can develop gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and or diarrhea. Your pet is already in a new environment which is most likely a bit stressful; so don’t change anything you don’t have to.
Contact Information – Ensure that the kennel has your numbers where you can be reached in the case of an emergency. Include your cell phone and any emergency contacts. Plan for the unexpected.
Emergency Instructions – Just in case of an emergency, leave instruction on how to proceed. During emergency hours, the kennel may use a certain veterinarian or emergency hospital. During the day, if you want your pet to go to your regular veterinarian – leave your vets name and phone number. Leave instructions on what you do and don’t want and a contact number or credit card number for emergency medical care. If you are not available by phone, make sure they have the authorization to make charges if care is required. You don’t want your pet “waiting” for medical care because of lack of credit card authorization.
Medical History – Obtain a copy of your pets pertinent medical record from your vet and give a copy to the kennel. Ideally, this record should include any medications, diagnosed conditions and problems . Include any behavioral quirks e.g. aggressive to other cats or if hates having his tail touched. Leave information about his tag and microchip numbers.
Leave Special Instructions – Make sure you clearly indicate any special instructions. For example, if you pet requires medications, ensure the name of the medication, dose (both in mg and number of pills, and frequency are clearly indicated. Also communicate any special foods or dietary restrictions. Keep the instructions simple with a contact number to call in the case of questions.
SHOULD YOU BOARD YOUR CAT?
KENNELING YOUR CAT
When you must travel, making sure your beloved cat is well taken care of while you are gone is foremost on your mind. Whether you leave suddenly or plan a trip carefully, you’re probably going to feel guilty over the upheaval your leaving will cause your pet. But is it better to find someone to watch her, or should you take her to a kennel? The short answer is a predictable one: It depends on the situation.
If you are planning a trip or vacation, you may want to find a reliable friend or relative to take care of your cat right at home. Staying at home reduces a kitten’s chances of picking up a respiratory infection, which is very contagious and quite common in many kennels. (Adult cats are often immune.) It is also less stressful for your cat, who may be so upset she refuses to eat. Although your cat will miss you madly, at home she is in a familiar place surrounded by familiar scents.
But taking care of your cat means more than just feeding her, making sure the water is changed daily or cleaning out the litter box. The person who takes care of your precious one should spend some quality time with her, too. Ideally, this person genuinely likes your cat, with the affection returned for good measure. If you don’t have someone who can take care of your cat, you might want to hire a professional pet sitter. But you need to plan well ahead of your trip. Finding one you and your cat like may take some time, and they tend to get booked around holidays. For tips on how to find a good pet sitter, and where to look, see the story How To Find a Good Pet Sitter for Your Cat.
If you decide to kennel your pet, you should have done your homework in advance, especially if sudden business trips are the norm. Visit the kennel and ask as many questions as you feel necessary to ensure the health of your cat. Are dogs and cats kept within the same room or even within sight of each other? (All-cat kennels are the best for your cat.) Does the kennel offer places for your cat to climb and perch? Will she be in her own room?
If your instincts tell you the kennel won’t take proper care of your cat, you’re probably right. You should be completely comfortable that your cat will get the treatment she deserves.
Finding the right kennel is only half the job, however. You will need to show proof that your cat is healthy and has been vaccinated against all diseases, either yearly or every three years. A good kennel will require proof of vaccination against FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia). For more information on how to find the right kennel, see the story Kenneling Your Cat.
Saying good-bye is hard to do, but with preparation for proper care you can keep your cat healthy and happy for your eventual reunion.