Choosing a boarding facility for your cat or bird

One of the most stressful things about planning a holiday is making sure that your pets are safe and well taken care of while you’re away. For pets other than dogs, your choices are basically a boarding facility or a pet sitter. Before you make any decisions, do proper research to ensure that the people at the establishment have the necessary knowledge and skills to take good care of your pet.

In this article, we take a look at what to look out for when choosing a boarding facility for your cat or pet bird.


Before you book your cat into a cattery, make sure that it is safe and cat friendly. Visit the place unannounced and see how the cats react. There should at least be good hiding places for the cats, and clean litterboxes. The cattery should have double gates, in case one of the cats escapes. There should also be a safe place where your cat can play when she feels like it. Discuss your cat’s personality with the staff before you make a booking.

If your cat gets used to going to a cattery from a young age, it might make it a little easier for her to do so when she’s older. For most cats, it can be very stressful to go to a cattery. Prepare as much as you can beforehand, to make the stay as comfortable as possible for your cat. If she is generally a very nervous cat, speak to your vet about getting something that might help her to calm down while you’re away.

Before you go on holiday, book her into the cattery for a night and fetch her the next day. This will help her to understand that she won’t be in ‘jail’ forever, and that you will fetch her again. Find out from the cattery what kind of items are allowed and, if possible, take her favourite blanket and an unwashed item of your clothing with her. Keeping your cat as calm as possible before you get to the cattery will also help.



Finding a safe place for birds to stay while you’re on holiday can be challenging. There are not many of these facilities available. Speak to your vet about safe places in your area, and ask for referrals from family and friends. Make sure that the people at the boarding facility understand birds very well and that they have extensive knowledge of companion birds – preferably the same breed as your pet bird.

Find out what their policies about cages are. Do you need to take your own, or do they provide a cage for your bird? If they have their own cages, then you should definitely inspect the cages and make sure that they are clean at all times. Ask them how often the cages get cleaned and where the birds are kept while they clean the cages. An unannounced visit will tell you a lot about the cleanliness of the cages.

Also find out about their health policies. Do owners have to provide a vet card as proof that their bird is healthy and that he has received the necessary vaccinations? You wouldn’t want your bird to fall ill while you’re away, due to a virus that has spread through the facility.

A very important question to ask is whether your bird will get time out of his cage, and what kind of entertainment he will receive. You wouldn’t want your pet to be caged up all day without any mental stimulation while you’re gone.

Safety is extremely important, so you need to make sure that the area where your bird is kept is safe and secure. You wouldn’t want your bird to get injured or escape if he gets out of his cage.

Ask them what type of food they provide and whether they will provide fresh fruit for your bird, or if you should provide food and fruit for him. Make sure that they have facilities where they can keep the food fresh and well sealed.

When you’re inspecting the facility before booking, look at the other birds in their care. Are they happy – are they singing and playing? Or do they seem to be miserable, just sitting in the corners of their cages? Look at their overall health and the condition of their feathers. If the resident birds don’t look well, you should rather look for a different facility.

Take-away notes

Rather spend extra time finding a facility where your pet will be safe and properly taken care of, so that you don’t return to an unhappy or unwell cat or bird after your holiday. And if you can’t find a decent facility – or a well-experienced and reliable pet sitter – in time, then you may want to postpone your holiday for a while. It is never okay to leave your pet at home alone – anything could happen while you’re away.



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