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Choosing the best holiday care for your cat: cat sitter or boarding cattery?

Understanding your cat's unique needs

When planning a holiday, ensuring your cat's well-being in your absence is crucial. The choice between a cat sitter and a cattery largely depends on your cat's unique health, temperament, and behaviour.



  • Health considerations: Cats with specific health needs, such as those requiring regular medication or specialised care (like diabetic cats needing insulin injections), can be more suitably managed in a cattery. Many catteries have trained staff capable of administering medication and attending to special dietary or health needs. However, if your cat is elderly and accustomed to a quiet environment, or the stress of a new place could exacerbate health issues, having a cat sitter who can visit multiple times a day may be preferable.

  • Temperament, behaviour and social preferences: Consider your cat's daily habits and their usual level of activity. Cats that are naturally shy or reserved may find the change to a cattery overwhelming, causing unnecessary stress. These cats often thrive in their own environment where they can follow their usual routines in familiar surroundings. A cat sitter who visits your home can provide them with the comfort and security they need while you are away. On the other hand, cats with a more outgoing and adaptable nature might find the new experiences of a cattery stimulating and enjoyable. Such cats often adjust quickly to new environments and may even welcome the opportunity for more social interaction and exploration that a cattery can provide. Also, consider how your cat interacts with others, both humans and fellow felines. Cats who enjoy human company and are accustomed to regular interaction may benefit more from a cat sitter who can provide them with the attention they crave. Conversely, cats who are more independent or those who prefer the company of other cats might find a cattery an exciting place to be, offering new forms of interaction and activity.


Choosing a Cat Sitter: Key features to look for


  • Experience and affinity for cats: The ideal cat sitter should have prior experience in caring for cats and genuinely enjoy spending time with them. Their passion for feline well-being is crucial as it ensures they will provide attentive and loving care.

  • Understanding of cat behaviour: Knowledge of basic cat behaviours and needs is vital. The sitter should be able to read your cat’s body language, understand its routine, and recognise signs of stress or illness. This understanding is particularly important for cats with specific behavioural traits or needs.

  • Ability to administer medication: If your cat requires medication or special care, it's crucial that the sitter is competent and comfortable in administering it. This could include oral medication, injections, or topical treatments.

  • References and background check: Don’t hesitate to ask for references from previous cat sitting jobs. If possible, conduct a basic background check to ensure they are trustworthy and have a good track record.

  • Emergency preparedness: The sitter should be aware of emergency procedures, including contact information for your veterinarian and how to handle various urgent situations.

 

Selecting a Cattery: Essential features to consider


  • Hygiene and safety: The cattery should maintain high cleanliness standards, with well-ventilated, clean, and disinfected enclosures. Safety is paramount; ensure there are secure barriers between cat units to prevent escapes and disease transmission.

  • Individual attention and care: Staff should monitor each cat’s eating, elimination, and general behaviour closely. The presence of ‘pee and poo’ charts is a good indicator of diligent monitoring.

  • Comfort and accommodation: Look for spacious units with a separate sleeping area and exercise space. Comfort elements like shelves for climbing and observing, as well as cozy bedding, are important.

  • Healthcare and medication management: If your cat requires medication or special care, the cattery should have trained staff to administer this properly. Ensure they have procedures for emergency healthcare.

  • Environmental enrichment: The cattery should provide toys, scratch posts, and visual stimuli (like butterfly-attracting plants) to keep cats engaged and prevent boredom.

  • Special requirements: Consider any specific needs your cat might have, such as dietary restrictions, grooming needs, or special accommodations for older or disabled cats.


Summary

When making your decision, always visit potential catteries and interview cat sitters to ensure they meet your and your cat’s needs. Preparing your cat for the cattery or sitter’s visits can also help ease the transition.

Remember, each cat is unique, and what works for one may not be suitable for another. Your understanding of your cat's personality and needs is crucial in making the best choice for their care while you're away.

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