Boarding Cats While on Vacation

What you do with your cat while you’re on vacation is entirely up to you. Some take them along the journey, especially when going on long vacations. But for overnight trips, weekenders, or a few weeks away, there is always the option to board your feline buddy.

But first, what are your options?

  • Hire a professional sitter to check on your cat regularly.
  • In-home pet boarding (call it a sleepover at a pet sitter’s home with other cats…and sometimes dogs, too).
  • Ask your neighbor, family member, or friend to:
    1. Feed, play with and change your cat’s litter box daily.
    Care for your kitty over at their place while you’re away.
  • Bring them on vacation with you.
  • Check your cat into a boarding facility with:
    Your trusted vet
    Cattery (exclusive to cats)
    Pet boarding facility (with other cats and dogs)

A sixth option is to leave the cat at home while you’re on vacation, but we strongly advise against it.

Cats are notable for being independent. But, cats do get lonely, anxious, and stressed out by changes while you’re on vacation. It is wise to plan and make an informed decision about your cat’s care in your absence so you can enjoy a stress-free vacation.

Is it better to board cats or leave at home?

Cats need more than food and water to survive while you’re on vacation. Even when you cat-proof your home, unplug electrical cords, and remove toxic plants, accidents can still happen. For your cat’s utmost safety, boarding for cats provides the routine and attention that cats need.

Does boarding cats stress them out?

Cats are sensitive to changes, be it while you’re home or away. Even when they are left in familiar surroundings, some cats go on a hunger strike, shed, and show other symptoms of stress.

Boarding cats in a reputable facility ensures cats receive proper and immediate care when they show signs of distress. Medication to relieve cat anxiety may be administered, but not without your permission. 

Trained staff should know how to calm an anxious cat. This can be done with pheromone diffusers, cat treats, or extra play and cuddle time.

Boarding for cats and dogs: is it good or bad for my cat?

Boarding cats and dogs can be an option for sociable cats. Otherwise, if your cat is not used to living with or near dogs, the sound of barking can cause cat anxiety to escalate and cause aggressive behavior in cats.

If this is your cat, opt for an exclusive cat boarding facility or cattery.

But, I feel bad leaving my cat in a cage while I swim in the Maldives.

Accommodations for cats range from a cage with a bowl and a litter box (at the cheapest) to an entire room with scratching posts, toys, and cat towers.

Boarding pet care

Modern catteries offer kitty condos with a clean bed and at least 10 inches distance from other cat guests. Their feeding bowl is replenished according to their regular schedule (details which you should provide).

A cat’s diet should not change while you’re away. Some catteries allow you to bring your chosen cat food while others offer the same premium cat food to all guests.

If your cat takes fish oil and other supplementation at home, trained staff will administer them to your cat in their kitty condo too.

But, I’m worried about my cat getting sick while I’m away.

It is exactly this reason why cats shouldn’t be left home alone while you’re on vacation. When you board your cat and he or she gets sick, trained staff can alert you right away.

Be sure to check the facility’s policy for when cats get ill under their care. You may leave medication or they may alert your vet or refer to their in-house vet.

Avoiding contaminations         

If you’re worried about your cat contracting illness from other cat boarders, be sure to check that up-to-date vaccinations are required from all guests at the cattery. Guests should also be free from fleas and parasites.

Don’t forget to tour the facility beforehand to check if there are sick cats checked in.

Also, feeding bowls and litter boxes should never be shared between cat guests.

Another reason why cats should not share living quarters during their stay is to avoid causing further stress to cats. Even cats of the same breed and household should have their personal space.

Cats establish their hierarchy at home and boarding them together can disrupt what’s put in place. There will always be adjustment necessary post-boarding cats.

Can I board my sick cat?

Most cat boarding facilities do not accept guests who are ill, which is a good sign for those who are concerned about their cat’s health. It is best to board your sick cat with his or her veterinarian. Your local vet should know about your cat’s medical history and can provide proper medical attention to your sick cat.

Accommodations provided by your vet won’t be as elaborate as a kitty condo, but your vet understands your cat’s medical needs the most.

Boarding cats by the age

  • Kittens: It is best to delay your plans until your kitten is old enough to receive all required vaccinations. Some cat boarding facilities accept kittens as young as 4 months old, while others accept only cats 6 months and older.

Cats may be easier to board as they are more adaptable to change.

  • Senior cats: Elderly cats often fare better cared for at home. Of course, you can board older cats too provided that the facility is trained to care for them. 

Catteries can’t care for diabetic cats and cats with chronic illnesses. Check with the facility beforehand and ensure they can adhere to your cats’ needs including temperature requirements, mood adaptability, and medication.

Boarding cats by the duration

It takes cats a day or two to adjust to their new environment upon boarding. Staff should make sure that new guests won’t go longer than 24 hours without food to avoid the risk of hepatic lipidosis.

Short-term boarding

Some catteries board cats overnight while others board cats for a minimum of 3 days’ stay. Make plans for extensions and delays in your trip, especially during peak season and holidays. 

Week-long boarding

When boarding cats for a week, it is vital to establish a routine at once. Despite the change in environment, your cat should be able to count on regular routines. Some catteries offer daily reports and others even have an on-site camera you can view on your smartphone.

On-site entertainment like a window view, bird feeders, and large aquariums should keep your cat occupied.

While dogs may get group playtime, cats often fare better with private playtime.

Long-term boarding

Boarding cats for a month may set you back by a couple of hundred dollars, so it doesn’t hurt to ask for discounts. This option is for those who can’t take their cat with them on long-term excursions. 

Be aware that cats will need a lot of bribing once they are brought back home. No welcome home kisses for you even when you leave your feline at a fancy cat hotel.

Boarding pet prices

Boarding cats cost $25 a night, on average, depending on location, age of the cat, and special requirements. Day and night rates may also vary. 

Some catteries offer as low as $15 to provide for your cat’s basic needs. Keep in mind that toys, private playtime, regular walks, nail trims, baths, and brushing can cost additional fees.

Solo walks can cost around $20, buffing those nails cost around $10, and private playtime is about $15.

You get what you pay for and extra activities can help reduce your cat’s stress while boarding.

Fleas are a big no-no at cat boarding facilities. If you bring in a cat with fleas, you can get penalized for around $20-$30. The cattery may even refuse your cat to prevent an infestation with other guests as some cat parents dislike chemical treatments for their feline babies.

Final Thoughts

It’s ok to board cats while you enjoy the holidays with relatives or a getaway you truly deserve. Planning is the key to ensure your cat won’t hate you for leaving him or her behind.

Some cats are adamant about not leaving home, so a professional sitter can look after them. Be wary that cats can run away in protest, some hide, and some don’t eat.

Leaving them with your folks or a neighbor can sound like a good trade-off and it’s cheap, but it can put a strain on your relationship when things go awry.

When you choose to board your cats, you won’t need to make special requests and background checks. But, it is good to ask for recommendations or search for a reputable local cattery online with lots of positive reviews.

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