Active Cat Boarding in San Francisco
September 30, 2009 10:46 PM   Subscribe

I need recommendations on boarding young cats in San Francisco. I wouldn't say they are high maintenance, but they are young and very active.

Capone (M) and Mimi (F) are a bit over 6 months old, siblings, and very social. Mr. sfkiddo and I will be out of town for 4-5 days next month and have come to the conclusion that we cannot simply have a cat sitter come in for 20 minutes/day. Our kittens need a lot of attention: Capone wants to fetch things for hours a day and Mimi needs a lot of lap time.

My ideal would be having someone stay in our home for the duration of our absence. That said, I'm pretty leery of having a stranger stay in our place. (Unfortunately, our friends can't stay here, they could only do the drop by feedings.) Considering that the key is to have someone give our pets a lot of attention without robbing us blind, what are my best options for San Francisco? Any good boarders here?
posted by sfkiddo to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
I don't know your cats, but I've known a lot of cats, and I would be pretty surprised if any cats responded better to a boarding situation in a strange place than they would to staying in their own home and having someone drop by to check on them, feed them, change water, litter, etc.

In my experience, cats are a lot more freaked out by unfamiliar places than by just about anything else, and a pair of cats is perfectly capable of keeping themselves occupied no matter how much you think they "need" constant human intervention.
posted by dersins at 10:57 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just saw a clip on a PBS show about this the other night. According to the guy - who was apparently some type of cat expert - it's better to leave them at home with lots of toys and have someone stop in to feed/water them than take them for boarding, especially when they're young.
posted by torquemaniac at 11:18 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

We've done the friends dropping in thing, which has worked OK, but we also checked out Cat Safari, which looked pretty cool, but a little spendy.
posted by chbrooks at 11:27 PM on September 30, 2009

We have two cats who are very friendly and social and demand petting and play for hours on end. We've left them in a couple situations for varying amounts of time. We've had friends drop by to feed and play with them (for 1-2.5 weeks) and have simply left them with plenty of food and water for up to 10 days. They'll really be okay, but may be desperate for attention when you come back.

Ours hold grudges - it's taken them up to three days for them to 'forgive' us, and any time we pack they get upset and clingy. But according to our friends, they do well without us and just bide their time and wait for us to come back.

They'll be much better off staying alone in their territory than being simultaneously abandoned and uprooted. They'll probably play with each other, with their toys (leave them plenty, and try to block off spaces they can lose them), and sleep most of the time you're gone.
posted by bookdragoness at 11:38 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

When you board a cat, you have to transport them, and then they stay in cages for all except the specified playtime (maybe an hour or two a day, if it's a fancy place), with the risk of being exposed to FIV, FLV, colds, etc.

Unless they need frequent medical intervention or your home isn't safe (like if you were having construction or mold remediation or something), don't board a cat. Cats may really like fetching and lap-sitting (neither of which will happen at a kennel, really), but if they have each other for company with the run of the house for exercise and someone to make sure they haven't knocked over their water every day, they will be unscarred when you return. (They may hold a grudge, but this is not the same. Cats enjoy holding grudges.)

With rowdy kittens and old cats, I have the sitter come in once a day. With grown healthy cats, I'll go four days/three nights, usually, before I start worrying about having someone come in. The sitter almost never actually sees my cats - they hide when she's there.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all your feedback. I think I got fixated on the attention aspect and forgot I was proposing to stick them in an unfamiliar environment. I'll look for someone to come in and hang out for a bit each day.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:20 AM on October 1, 2009

Contact the SF SPCA -- a ton of the volunteers there also do cat-sitting for very reasonable rates, and they are trustworthy folk. MeMail me if you want a couple of references.
posted by vickyverky at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2009

We use Sir Pet to watch our dear Imogene when we travel. He's great; he's a professional pet sitter, not a guy who does this on the side for extra money, so he takes it very seriously. He took notes during our initial meeting as to the cat's behaviors and preferences and was available by phone whenever we called while we were away. I think his rate is $25/day; it's not a negligible expense, but worth it for the peace of mind that came with knowing our baby was being taken care of.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:41 AM on October 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, vickyverky and mostlymartha, for your recommendations. I will follow up on your leads.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:12 PM on October 1, 2009

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