Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking for a quality spot to board your cat.
by Avery Felman
April 26, 2023
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Whether you’re planning on hitting the road, hopping a flight, or taking a train to your next destination, it may not always be possible to bring your pet with you —no matter how much you may want to show off their new airline-approved carrier. That being said, there’s no reason you should feel like you aren’t leaving your cat in the best possible hands, which is where this exhaustive list of dos and don’ts of cat boarding comes in.
Anyone who has a cat with separation anxiety (or has separation anxiety themselves) understands the importance of finding a boarding facility that meets all of your cats needs. Otherwise, you may find yourself FaceTiming staff members when you should be enjoying your well-earned vacation. But how can you find a boarding facility that’s a good fit for you and your cat? Below, the important questions to ask, essentials to pack in their overnight bag, and tips for finding the right match in a cat-boarding facility, or cattery.
Should you board your cat or leave them alone?
It takes cats a long time to adjust to unfamiliar places, so it may not be feasible to bring your cat on every long weekend trip you embark on, unless you can commit to spending a chunk of your time off helping them get acclimated. That being said, leaving them alone for long periods of time isn’t the best choice, either.
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Cats are social creatures and need to engage with humans or other pets on a daily basis. While some cats are fine left on their own for a maximum of 24 to 48 hours, others may not be as tolerant and might find being left alone stressful. This could cause them to engage in destructive behaviors, such as scratching furniture, eating plants, avoiding the litter box, or self-injury. It’s easier to leave cats alone during this period if they have a sibling to keep them company, but never for an extended period of time.
If you’re planning to ask a friend or family member to drop in and feed your cat during your week-long vacation, be proactive and stock up on calming products, such as pheromone diffusers and thundershirts. Your cat may find the change in their routine and consistency of social interactions stressful, so these comforts can help ease their anxieties.
For trips longer than a week, consider looking into long-term cat-boarding facilities, including those available at your local veterinary hospital. This can be especially useful for senior cats and those who require special medication.
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Finding a Trusted Cat Boarding Facility
The internet is inundated with information about cat-boarding services, which can make it difficult to sift through the viable options. Aside from typing “cat boarding near me” into Google, here are a few ways to jumpstart your search.
If you’re traveling during a busy time like the holidays, be sure to look into boarding facilities well in advance because they’re likely to book up. And knowing you couldn’t secure your first choice for your child? Not a good feeling.
Ask about their vaccination policies in advance. They may require proof that your cat has certain vaccinations such as the vaccine for rabies, which is required by law in some states, and you’ll need some lead time to get the supporting paperwork from your vet.
Consider your vet
If you have a senior cat, consider boarding them at your vet hospital. That way, they’ll already have your cat’s medical records and are familiar with their unique needs. Plus, they’ll be able to give your cat any extra care they may require, such as daily shots or other medicine.
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Another pro of boarding your cat at the vet is that you have the option to add on services during their stay, including dental cleanings and grooming. (Let’s face it: No one wants to trim their cat’s nails or give them a bath at home.)
Tour the facilities
Ask to see where your cat will be staying. During your tour, make sure there’s enough room in the cattery for your cat to sleep, play, eat, hide, and walk around. This is especially important if you’re planning for an extended stay.
Another thing to look for is that cats and dogs are kept in separate areas. Your cat may already find the scents of a new place overwhelming and stressful, which can be heightened by the smells and sounds of other animals.
Look for signs of a safe and clean facility with a friendly, supportive, and professional staff. They should be open to answering any questions you may have and give clear answers when it comes to the amount of playtime and daily contact your cat will be receiving in your absence.
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Ask for references
If you aren’t sold right away, ask to be put in touch with other cat parents who have used their boarding facilities in the past. That way, you can learn about their experiences and see if it seems like the right fit for you. You can always check out their Google or Yelp reviews, but beware that online reviews tend to represent two extremes, so don’t let them scare you off right away.
Establish the cost
Asking about the cat-boarding costs in advance is key. Use the pricing information to compare the facilities. One that’s more expensive might offer more time for physical contact with your cat, while a more affordable option may only provide a few minutes of playtime per day.
Pack their overnight bag
Before dropping them off for their stay, gather familiar objects to send them off with, such as their bed and toys as well as their regularfood, treats, and litter. Bonus points if you leave your favorite T-shirt behind so they can take comfort in your scent while you’re away.
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- cat lifestyle
- cat travel
- cat safety
Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her fiancé and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.
While it may seem that cats are better off in their own home while you're away, they're actually more likely to be better off with a boarder or cattery. Because cats are so independent and easily frightened into hiding, they benefit much more from a controlled environment where they can be closely monitored.What do cat owners do when they go on vacation? ›
A Boarding Facility (Kennels)
In addition to this, boarding is probably the best place to leave your cat when you are on vacation. Boarding facilities should be run by professionals who make sure your cat always has food and water, is supervised at all times, and is getting quality one-on-one time.
We don't recommend leaving your cat alone longer than 24 hours because cats are social creatures that need their owner's attention to feel safe and comfortable. They rely on you to make sure all of their care requirements are being met.Will my cat be OK alone for a week? ›
Most adult cats are fine being left home alone for up to 24 hours, under the right conditions (more on that below). If you need to leave for two or three days, a full week, or longer, you should make sure someone is coming over to care for your cat daily.Is it better to take a cat on vacation or leave home? ›
Most of the time, traveling is quite safe for cats. For extended trips that will be a week or longer, traveling with your cat may make more sense than leaving them at home. Being away from home with your cat for several days allows them to get comfortable with a new environment and stay on their usual routine.Will my cat forgive me for going on vacation? ›
Vacations are meant to be fun for people, but due to the change in routine, they can, unfortunately, be a cause of stress for cats and result in behavior problems and separation anxiety. Cat behavior problems can occur during the owner's absence, while being transported, or when the owner returns.How do I leave my cat alone for 5 days? ›
- Know That Cats Like Alone Time. ...
- Clean Up Your House Before Leaving. ...
- Move Your Plants Out Of Reach. ...
- Leave Out Tons Of Extra Food & Water. ...
- Prep Your Litter Box. ...
- Provide Safe Entertainment. ...
- Leave Out Scented Pieces of Clothing.
No matter how independent your cat is, we do not recommend leaving your cat alone without daily visits from a friend or a professional cat-sitter for more than two or three days. Today, there are many options to care for your cat while you are away. Keep in mind that, cats tend to be independent, territorial animals.Do cats get lonely when owners go on vacation? ›
Regardless of their reputation, cats do get lonely when they are left unattended for long periods of time. Research proves that cats are social beings that form strong bonds with their owners. Do cats get sad when you leave? Short answer: yes.How often do you check on a cat's vacation? ›
Twice-daily visits are ideal for cats who eat two separate meals in the morning and evening, cats who take medication, and for kittens and seniors who would benefit from being checked on more often.
Upon Your Return From Vacation
While you're ready for the reunion, don't be disappointed if your cat doesn't immediately reciprocate. It can take some cats a few days to readjust to the "new" situation, even though it's just a return to normalcy.
As long as fresh water is available, some cats can be left alone for up to 24 hours. However, longer or more frequent periods of time away, such as full days or nights away from home can be more disruptive. Your cat should not be left alone for long periods of time.How long can I leave my cat with a sitter? ›
Provide Your Cat with Attention without Returning Home
If you have a cat sitter supervising them for an hour or two per day, you can safely leave them for up to a week. Any longer than that and your kitty will surely miss your constant presence at home!
The truth is, though, cats have plenty of different personality types, and many of them do experience separation anxiety. This is particularly true of cats who were orphaned. And with many of you going back to work if you haven't gone back already, it's a good idea to know the signs of separation anxiety in cats.Will my cat be OK without me for 2 weeks? ›
Leaving a cat alone in your home might be suitable for a short trip away, but leaving cats alone for 2 weeks is never a good idea.Do cats remember you after a long vacation? ›
Anyone simply "present" in their life is someone they may remember, but not associate with any emotion. But as long as you and your cat have shared a pet or two, and as long as you fed them a few of their favorite meals, your cat will remember you as well no matter how long you are gone.Can I leave my cat with a friend for a month? ›
"Domesticated cats are used to being with people on a day-to-day basis. I don't recommend leaving a cat for three months. The long absence might take a mental toll on the cat which could lead to urinating out of the box or even becoming anti-social."Do cats know when you leave them? ›
If you leave the house for a quick errand or two, it's unlikely your cat will even notice that you're not home. A quick pet and a snuggle can remind your cat that despite your absence, you've got kitty on the brain!Should I feel guilty for leaving my cat? ›
While leaving their pet, people may feel guilty for doing so. This is a normal feeling to experience and there are ways to combat that guilt. Understanding that your pet is probably okay while you are gone is a great place to start to reduce the guilt that is experienced when leaving your pet at home.Why do cats ignore you when you come back from vacation? ›
“Cats know who you are by smell,” Uncles says. “When you return from a trip, you smell different, which can cause varying reactions from your cat—including aggression.” Some cats act out their aggression by biting, scratching or even hiding from their parents, Osborne says.
- Clean Up Before Leaving Your Cat Home Alone.
- Set Up The Cat Food And Water Strategically.
- Give Your Cat Some Entertainment.
- Set Up A Pet Camera.
- Make Sure Your Cat Can't Get Stuck Anywhere.
- Don't Forget About The Litter Box.
- Make Sure Someone Can Get Inside If Needed.
Be sure to leave unlimited access to water and their usual amount of food. Invest in stimulating cat toys or scratching furniture they can play with on their own. Leave the TV or radio on when you go out, as the picture and sounds can help to keep your cat occupied and calm when they're alone.Do cats mind being alone? ›
Cats are incredibly perceptive and the way they "attach" to people isn't always obvious. For the most part, cats don't mind being alone, particularly if your absence is part of a routine. Anxiety and behavioral issues are two of the most common ways cats show their displeasure with being home alone.Can a cat stay in a home for 3 days? ›
Cats have a reputation as independent creatures. They don't require walks or frequent trips outdoors and enjoy sleeping the day away. Although your cat may be fairly self-reliant, it's not to a good idea to leave him or her alone for more than one day for these reasons: Illnesses and Injuries Can Happen at Any Time.What to do with a cat when you go away for a month? ›
There are a number of options to ensure your pet is well cared for when you're away. The best option is to have a friend or family member look after them. If this isn't possible you could use a pet sitter or take them to a boarding establishment.Why does my cat meow so much when I come home from vacation? ›
They're Greeting You. Your cat might just be trying to say “hello.” After you've been away, it's not unusual for your kitty to run and greet you at the front door and give you a sweet meow. She may also be inclined to greet new visitors.How do cats show they miss you? ›
Strong Desire for Affection Upon Your Return
A cat's expression of affection is more subtle than a dog's, so pay attention. If your cat is permanently attached to your side, following you from room to room, and rubbing up against your legs, it's their way of saying: I love you, I missed you—pay attention to me!
This brings us to the question – is it OK to leave my cat alone for 12 hours? Yes, it is OK. In fact, cats that eat dry food can be left on their own for up to 48 hours if, and only if there is also fresh water available. Kittens, on the other hand, should not be left without company for more than eight hours.Can I leave my cat alone for 2 weeks? ›
Leaving a cat alone in your home might be suitable for a short trip away, but leaving cats alone for 2 weeks is never a good idea.Can I leave my cat alone for 3 days? ›
No matter how independent your cat is, we do not recommend leaving your cat alone without daily visits from a friend or a professional cat-sitter for more than two or three days. Today, there are many options to care for your cat while you are away. Keep in mind that, cats tend to be independent, territorial animals.
"Domesticated cats are used to being with people on a day-to-day basis. I don't recommend leaving a cat for three months. The long absence might take a mental toll on the cat which could lead to urinating out of the box or even becoming anti-social."Is it stressful for cats to travel? ›
Whether by airplane, train, or car, any kind of travel can upset your cat and cause stress behaviors. Unfamiliar, confined environments can be stressful to your otherwise well-behaved pet, and spending time in unfamiliar spaces could add to that.What is the longest you can leave a cat alone? ›
Most felines will be perfectly content being left alone for up to 8 hours while you're at work. As long as fresh water is available, some cats can be left alone for up to 24 hours. However, longer or more frequent periods of time away, such as full days or nights away from home can be more disruptive.Will my cat be lonely when I go on vacation? ›
Cats may be independent, but they don't do well left alone for multiple days, they get lonely and anxious without their human companions—especially with the increasing time we're away from them. Cat's worry like we do and can feel abandoned and increasingly nervous the longer we're away.Can a cat be left alone for 72 hours? ›
Although 72 hours is the firm maximum time you should leave your cat alone, the exact amount of time depends on their age, health, and personality. You should also consider the time of year and your home when deciding how long is appropriate for your cat.Will my cat be okay if I leave for 4 days? ›
Even though cats are pretty self-sufficient, you shouldn't leave your cat home alone for more than 2-3 days maximum. If you have a young kitten, an older cat, or a solo cat, that time should be more like 1-2 days but you know your cat(s) the best.Should I cover my cats carrier when traveling? ›
Many car seats are sloped, so the best way to make sure the carrier is on a level surface is to place a rolled-up towel on the seat underneath the carrier. Cover the carrier with a sheet or blanket to provide your cat with extra privacy and reduce how much your cat is disturbed by things going on outside.How often should you stop when traveling with a cat? ›
Be as quick with your stop as possible. If it's a food break you're taking, come back and check on your cat frequently (like every 10 minutes or so, just to be safe).Can you give a cat Benadryl for traveling? ›
The mild sedative used in Benadryl is sometimes recommended by veterinarians for anxiety. An example would be traveling by car or airplane. Some cats get quite anxious or upset when traveling and giving Benadryl can be an excellent sedative for traveling.