Choosing a Cattery
When I started Lily’s I wanted to create a home-from-home environment for cats, where even the most sensitive cat could feel comfortable, secure and just like they were in their own home. My aim is that my clients can enjoy their time away and not have to worry about their precious cats. The key to all this is our experience, our love of cats and our deep understanding about their differing needs. I’m really pleased to say that we have hosted lots of sensitive cats, many of whom have failed to settle in other catteries, and we have managed to get great results – to the delight and astonishment of their owners!
People often ask me what kind of things they need to consider when they are choosing a cattery. Well, to start with, I’d recommend you check your local Council’s website – first question should be whether or not the cattery you’re considering has been licensed by the Council, and then what rating they received. Ask to see a copy of the cattery’s licence. The licence is important because it means that the establishment has robust procedures, a high standard of accommodation and staff, and is properly insured. Under the new DEFRA regulations it’s not possible to be five star rated unless the size of your pens is at least 50% larger than the standard laid down by the Government.
If you’re going away for a couple of weeks and your cat is used to luxuriating in a nice big, centrally heated house, you really should consider whether a pen held together with chicken wire and situated largely outdoors with a gale blowing through it is going to work for your cat. It really might be a bit too much of a shock, yet many catteries are just like this So look for somewhere that offers modern, hygienic, spacious, light and quiet surroundings which are stimulating yet safe and secure.
Since your cat will be spending quite a bit of time in his or her new suite, it’s important that there are sufficient activities available to keep them stimulated. So, make sure that there is a cat tree, toys and ideally a bed they can sleep on but also snuggle into plus comfy blankets which cats enjoy while sitting.
Most cats really like having a view, so seek out pens with large windows where there is something for them to watch, perhaps some wildlife. It all helps to keep them interested and stimulated.
Heating is another important thing to look for. Ideally, you want the sleeping area to be thermostatically controlled so that it can be kept at a constant temperature around 22 degrees centigrade. But it’s also important that there is good ventilation and air extraction and that there is a facility to increase the temperature particularly if it’s cold in the Winter.
Many catteries use glass PVC buildings – these suffer from the ‘conservatory effect’ and can become extremely hot in the summer, in which case look for air conditioning. In our case, we’ve built our pens inside a sturdy building which prevents the build up of heat.
One very important thing to ask about is the cleaning regime at the cattery. Cross contamination is something that you have to look out for, so make sure that the pens are scrupulously cleaned during each stay and most importantly in between changeovers.
Whether your cat is the sensitive type or not they will definitely do better in a quiet, peaceful environment to help cats feel at ease, with no sudden, loud noises that can be startling or unnerving for the cats.
The experience level of the staff is going to be really important, especially if your cat has special needs. Did you get a good feeling when you met the staff? Did they communicate well and did you feel you would be confident driving away having left your cat in their care? Ask questions to understand how they will look after your cat and manage any special requirements that he or she has. It’s also worth taking a look at the other cats that are boarding – do they look happy and relaxed? Do the pens look safe and secure, are they clean and tidy?
Some cats are sensitive and difficult to feed at the best of times and can be even more tricky when they’re placed into a strange environment. So the feeding regime is really important – ask what food the cattery provides and whether they can provide tempters if your cat goes off its food. What lengths will they go to to try and ensure your cat maintains its nutritional intake?
Here at Lily’s we have had a number of cats with disabilities – blind cats, deaf cats, cats that have sadly had amputations. If you have a cat in this category, ask whether the pens can be adapted to suit these kind of special requirements – for example will they provide jump stools or switch to floor level living?
Finally, it’s always a good idea to understand in detail how much time the staff will spend with your cat providing stimulation and enrichment. Is this a chargeable extra or is it included in the price? How often will your cat be visited, are there systems in place to record your cat’s food and water intake and what their ‘output’ is. Can the staff give medication? While you’re away you’ll certainly be thinking about how your cat is getting along, so will you receive regular updates, perhaps even photos or video so that you can see that all is well?
Hopefully, this video has been helpful in highlighting some of the things to consider when choosing a cattery. If you’re going away soon and need a five star cat hotel for your cat, we would be delighted to host your cat for you, just give us a call or send us an email to schedule an inspection visit. We are based near to Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield just off the M40 Junction 2 and M25 Junction Junction 16, or about 30 minutes drive from central London depending on the time of day. We look forward to hearing from you!