Planning professional cat care for when you’re away from home can be full of difficult decisions. Two of the most popular methods are boarding your kitty and employing a cat sitter. But how can you choose? Cat in a Flat looks into the options to help you decide. 

What is a cattery?

A cat boarding facility or cattery is a place you can take your kitty to stay while you’re away. Catteries usually comprise many separate rooms or enclosures for cats and sometimes a communal area. As well as catteries, there are boarding facilities that refer to themselves as cat hotels. These are usually fancier and more expensive catteries that host fewer cats and give them more space and attention than other facilities. However, there is no legal definition, so don’t assume the term “cat hotel” always means luxury boarding facilities. Cat owners should check out any boarding facility before booking in their kitty for a stay to make sure it feels safe, secure and caring.

Some people also offer boarding in their house. This is a less formal arrangement, where your cat will stay in the boarder’s home rather than their own enclosure.

As with any cat care option, there are advantages and disadvantages to leaving your cat at a cattery or boarding facility. Below, we have listed the most important factors to consider, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of booking a cat sitter. 

Cat boarding
Cat boarding is one of the options for professional cat care when you’re away

What are the advantages of using a cat boarding facility?

  • Regulations around cat boarding facilities can vary from place to place and country to country. However in most cases, catteries have laws and standards that they have to meet in order to protect kitty clients.
  • Because catteries are regulated and are usually run by experienced carers; they should know what to do in an emergency.  
  • Cat boarding facilities rely on good reviews so make sure you research which are the best options close to you. 

What are the disadvantages of boarding your cat in a cattery?

Catteries and boarding facilities:

  • Catteries and boarding facilities get booked up months in advance so require careful planning. For short-notice cat care requirements, this means catteries are often unsuitable. 
  • Catteries and boarding facilities can be expensive.
  • Most boarding facilities require you to drop off your cat within a short time frame, adding extra complication and stress onto planning your trip. 
  • Cats are creatures of habit and don’t like being away from home. A change in environment – the unfamiliar sounds and smells – can be very stressful for your kitty.
  • Even luxurious boarding facilities have a lot of cats in close quarters. Kitties find being around other strange cats extremely stressful.

Boarding your cat at someone’s home:

  • Some cat boarders take on cats in their own homes, and this takes extra consideration. You would need to check that the house is safe, cat proof, has correctly sealed and monitored windows and doors. You should also check that the home is free from dangerous plants
  • Cats can behave erratically in unfamiliar environments and could toilet outside of a litter tray, scratch furniture or cause damage to a boarder’s property.
  • Some cat insurance doesn’t cover your pet for locations away from home. 
  • If your cat escapes, they will be in an unfamiliar place and won’t be able to find their way home. 

What is cat sitting?

Cat sitting is a paid-for service whereby a cat carer looks after your kitty in the comfort of their own home. You can book a cat sitter for the entire time you’re away to look in on Mr Whiskers. Cat sitting is a flexible service so you can ask your carer to visit your kitty once or twice a day, or even stay overnight in your home. Many pet sitters will also help with jobs around the house including picking up post or watering plants. A regular cat sitting service includes feeding your cat, changing their litter tray and should also include playing with and cuddling your furry friend. It means more attention and less disruption for your cat while you’re away. Cat sitting also provides peace of mind for you too, knowing a kitty-loving professional is caring for your beloved pet. It’s a great alternative to a cattery.

Find out what to look out for in a cat sitter in this Cat in a Flat blog.

Cat boarding is one of the options for professional cat care when you're away
Cat sitting is a stress free option for your and your cat

What are the advantages of hiring a cat sitter?

  • Cats are cared for in the comfort of their own home. Leaving your cat in the place they know and love means you’ll return to a relaxed and happy furry friend. 
  • Cat sitting means no worries about drop off and pick up times or getting Mr Whiskers into his cat carrier
  • Cat sitting is flexible. You can ask your sitter to help out around your house by collecting your post or watering your plants. 
  • Cat sitters expect you to brief them on your cat and home before you go away. This means that cat sitters know precisely how to care for your kitty. 
  • You can also book a sitter to stay overnight in your home for extra security. House sitters are a good option too if your kitty needs extra attention. 
  • Platforms such as Cat in a Flat have many sitters available in most areas. This means there are more options for last-minute bookings than at boarding facilities. 
  • Many people find regular visits to their home gives them peace of mind that everything is safe and secure.  
  • You can search cat sitters to find someone experienced in looking after infirm cats, or administering medicine if required. 
  • A more individual service also means you can expect daily updates on your cats. A daily photo and message is a lovely and reassuring treat for owners to look forward to each day. 
  • If you book a cat sitter through a platform like Cat in a Flat they will be covered and vetted. Your furry friend will be in safe hands and covered if any emergencies arise. 
  • You can read reviews of sitters before booking to make sure other cat lovers had a good experience. 

What are the disadvantages of hiring a cat sitter?

  • Cat sitting is a paid-for service, so it is more expensive than asking a friend or family member to look after your pet. But it is usually a more affordable option than a boarding facility. 
  • Although there are usually more local cat sitters than boarding facilities, cat sitters can get booked up over busy holiday periods. 
  • There could be no cat sitters in your area, especially outside of towns and cities. 
cat sitter

Is it better to leave a cat at home or board in a cattery?

Cats much prefer not to experience too much change – they like to stay at home in familiar surroundings. It’s best to arrange for a cat sitter to care for your cat at home where they are happy, comfortable and safe. Always arrange for a trusted sitter to check on your cat at least once a day. Cats shouldn’t be left alone for long periods: it can be dangerous, and it can make them stressed and unhappy. 

 Is it bad to board your cat?

The majority of catteries are professionally run facilities that provide 24-hour care and attention for cats. It’s not bad or wrong to board your cat, especially if you can’t find another solution to cat care. But arranging in-home cat care is a better, kinder solution for your cat. Cat sitting is more convenient for you too! Make sure to start looking for cat sitters as soon as you can to ensure the best care for your pet.

How much does cat boarding in a cattery cost vs cat sitting?

Cat boarding costs range from facility to facility but start at around £10 and go to around £25 per night. Catteries often charge extra things such as heaters and for administering medication. Cat boarding facilities also charge per cat; if you have more than one pet, the cost will be significantly higher. Cat sitters charge from £8 to £15 for a once-daily drop-in service. Twice daily drop-ins can cost from around £12 to £25, and overnight stays can cost from £15 to £50. Cat sitting costs are for the whole household, however, not per cat, and there are no hidden costs. You can also ask your cat sitter to add additional services for a fee, such as watering the plants or feeding small pets.

Will my cat forget me after two weeks away?

No, your cat won’t forget you after two weeks away from home. Cats have excellent memories – though this varies from animal to animal as it does in humans. Cats can remember their owners for years after being separated from them. So rest assured when you return, your cat will remember who you are and your shared bond. To remind your cat of you while you’re away, leave them something with your smell, such as a piece of clothing. The scent will be reassuring to your cat, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety.

Top tip: at the Covid-19 pandemic continues, you should arrange to introduce your cat sitter to your cat and home over a video call. And brief your sitter on the cleaning protocols you’d like to put in place. In this way, cat sitting allows for a relatively contact-free care option. See Cat in a Flat’s safety information to learn more. 

As we approach the summer holiday season and lockdowns continue to ease, make sure to book your cat care early as demand can be high at this time of year. To learn more about how you should prepare for your cat’s care when going away, read Cat in a Flat’s blog here

Cat boarding FAQs

Is cat sitting or boarding in a cattery the right option for my cat?

Every cat is different, and no single solution suits everyone. However, the vast majority of cats would prefer to be cared for in their own home. Cats don’t like change, they don’t like to travel, and they don’t like sharing space with unfamiliar cats. Cat sitters will pay individual, tailored and loving attention to your cat or cats based on their preferences. Therefore, cat sitting is the best solution for most cats, and it’s also more convenient and less expensive for cat owners.

What does boarding a cat mean?

Boarding is when you leave your cat at a cattery, which is a bit like a cat hotel. You pay a boarding house or cattery to look after your cat at their facility while you are away. A cattery usually has many cats stay at one time – often, cats sleep in separate cabins or cages and share a communal area. Sometimes cats have their own area that they stay in the entire time and don’t share their space with other cats. Cat owners have to reserve a place at a cattery in advance and arrange a time to drop their cat off and pick them up when they return.

Is it cruel to put your cat in a cattery?

Most cats find the experience of staying in a cattery stressful. Cats are territorial and prefer to stay in their home environment. Even the experience of getting your cat into a carrier and driving them to a cattery can provoke anxiety in your pet. Most cats also don’t like other cats outside of their familiar family, so the experience of sharing space with a lot of new cats can be stressful. Catteries are full of the sounds and smell of unfamiliar cats and people, which can be overwhelming for your pet. Many catteries are professionally run by people who care about cats, but unless you have no other option, arranging for your cat to be cared for in their own home by a cat sitter is a kinder option.

Can I leave my cat alone for five days?

No cat should be left alone for five days. You might think that cats are self-sufficient and will be ok with a timed feeder for five days. However, your cat could get stuck, ill, get in an accident, their feeder could break, or they could run out of food or water. In addition, cats can suffer from separation anxiety and stress when left alone. To make sure your cat is safe and happy, someone should check on them at least once a day. 

Is it stressful for a cat to stay at a cattery?

While every cat is different and will react individually to a cattery environment, most will find it stressful. Cats are territorial animals who don’t like change. The strange sounds, smells and sights of a cattery can be overwhelming for a cat, as can the presence of lots of unfamiliar cats. Being removed from the home and transported to and from a facility is also something most cats find distressing.

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For a great alternative to a cattery, find the best cat sitter near me

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