Long-term cat boarding -- how??
January 23, 2023 3:02 AM   Subscribe

We have some housing upheaval coming, and we are quite stressed about what to do with our darling, semi-outdoor cat (in the UK). Help?

We have an amazing cat -- he is part of our family in a big way, and we adore him.

We also have a few moves probably coming up this year. We have to sell our place (which involves the cat NOT being in the house for a while) and then we'll probably have to rent for a bit before we find our next place. And even then, we may need to do some work on said next place, which will also probably involve renting.

What do we do with our fabulous cat? Just browsing, I can't find any rentals that will take a cat (rentals are really tight around here so there will be no bargaining room.) I can't think of any friends who could take him and I feel bad asking. I really cannot board him in a cattery -- he adores people/sleeping on laps and he goes outside a fair bit (can use a litter box willingly, but prefers outside in a big way, probably because he was a stray. The catteries I've seen would be cruel for him.) That said, we would be totally fine with indoors only if I could find someone who would love him/play with him.

Does a kind of people or family boarding for a month or more actually exist for a cat? I feel like before I had a cat I would have loved this (to be paid handsomely to take care of a lovely cat with no long-term responsibility) but I'm not sure how to find these people.

(We are in the UK).

posted by heavenknows to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
I’m in the US in a city with a very different pet culture than where you are, but if I were in your shoes I would begin by asking local pet sitters for advice and recommendations. I know that one person who I’ve hired to take care of my cats in the past (just coming by once a day for feeding and attention) will sometimes take in pets for longer periods in her own home - though I think this was limited to dogs that were comfortable with her own. Either way, I’d ask her, or someone like her, first. Ask around for pet sitters, look into your local job ads and check if your vet has anyone they suggest.

Also, when I was in my first off campus apartment in university, my older cousin had to live in a place that didn’t allow pets so we worked out a deal where her cat lived with me for a year and she paid for his stuff, vet care, and a little extra as thanks. I was so happy with this arrangement! I got a cat for free for a whole year, I wouldn’t have the grief of handling his elder years, he was already well loved and socialized and came with a primer on his personality and preferences, and I got to help out my family. I loved Bailey the cat but I was so happy to see him reunited with my cousin when she moved to a new place. So think again about your friends and who might be up for a similar arrangement with your cat - someone with limited funds but plenty of time home like a geeky university student or an older person on limited income might be downright excited for the request, not at all imposed upon.
posted by Mizu at 3:27 AM on January 23

I'm a UK vet. Talk to your vet practice, some of the staff where I work would definately do this. If not try other local practices.

A lot of my clients also use trustedhousesitters.com to find pet care. You may be able to find someone who does traditional pet sitting who might be willing to provide this service. (The site isn't just for house sits.)
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 4:23 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]

I am not in the UK but we have pet sitting apps like Rover and Pawshake. There may be some sitters like Mizu suggests that would be interested in this.

Rescues here do this regularly with volunteers fostering the cats pending adoption because they don't have shelter space. There is definitely a demographic of people who will be into this, especially students or young people /who may have grown up with pets and cant commit for a lifetime but would like month or two.
posted by dazedandconfused at 5:57 AM on January 23

Rover gets hideously expensive fast, even trying to use it for intermittent days of a vacation. Before trying to use it for a month, I could rent the cats their own studio. But worth checking to see if anyone in your area with space to spare is offering a deal on longer terms.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:36 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

And, I don't know if it's a thing in the UK, but when I was growing up we used to take our dogs to a kennel in the hills outside of town that was on a spread and had combo indoor/outdoor pens (for family vacations). I'm not sure if they would have been willing to take a cat, or allocate a pen to one (or how a cat would feel in that environment with all the barking and dog smells).
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:47 AM on January 23

Where I am in the US there is a cat shelter that will help match up cat fosters with folks who need longer term help, such as folks who will be in the hospital, loss of housing, etc.

Would also say that when I was a university student I would have absolutely loved an arrangement where I could be a cat caretaker for a few months to a year without having to commit to owning a cat for the next 10+ years. Especially if someone else covered food and vet bills.

If you reach out to some local cat shelters I bet they can help put you in touch with your local cat fostering folks!

I don’t know if this is at all an option in the UK but in the US we have housing protections for emotional support animals and I have been forced to look into getting that accommodation myself for the same reasons you mentioned - tight rental market, tons of no pet rentals, and exorbitant extra $50 a month pet rent fees.
posted by forkisbetter at 7:51 AM on January 23

I can't think of any friends who could take him and I feel bad asking.

Don't feel bad! I have briefly taken in a friend's cat before, when I already had two myself - which wasn't ideal, but I'm a softy for cats in need of a home. Even if your friends can't do it, they may know somebody who would be willing - I'd feel free to tell all of your friends what you're looking for, how much you can pay, and see if they know anyone who may be interested. That way you aren't asking them directly, but you are getting the word out.
posted by coffeecat at 7:51 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

Definitely ask your vet's office for recommendations and any other highly-rated vets near you. I suspect there must be a vet tech or other vet-med professional around who would jump at the chance to earn some extra money being a temporary cat sitter in their home.
posted by cgg at 8:01 AM on January 23

Definitely ask friends, being in the UK you'll know that you can phrase it as "we're going to be in between homes for a while, do you know anyone who might be able to look after out cat?" so you aren't asking the friends directly. Ask them to spread the word.

I very quickly found someone who was able to take in my cat when I couldn't have him for an indefinite amount of time - turned into nearly 9 months. I paid for everything and made sure we were clear about me taking him back; he was also an outdoor cat but had to be indoor in this case and quickly adjusted.
posted by sarahdal at 8:02 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

I would try finding an elderly person who loves cats and used to have cats themselves, but didn't get another cat after their last cat died because they were worried about what would happen to the cat if the cat outlived them. I bet they would love some temporary kitty company and the catsitting money could be a huge help to someone on a fixed retirement income.

The best way to find that person is to ask everyone you know if they know anyone like that who might be interested in being paid to foster your cat for a few months. It's very likely that someone in your network knows a suitable person.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:18 AM on January 23

I can't think of any friends who could take him and I feel bad asking.

Ask! Either one of them secretly covets your cat, would love a cat that someone else was providing financially for (free cat! But in a good way!), or they may know people they trust who would be suitable.

Sometimes -- often, I'm finding, as my circle of acquaintances matures -- older people won't adopt an animal even though they _love_ animals just because they worry about dying and leaving the animal behind. You have a wonderful solution for that!

Building on that: maybe ask at an organization nearby that caters to older people.

If you really want him to be able to hang out outside, I might start with your nearest neighbors.

Prepare an approach and some questions so that you can make sure your fosterer has the same empathy and love for animals that you do.

(I'd shy away from putting him in an indoor/outdoor situation if he has to go more than a quarter mile away, though.)
posted by amtho at 9:58 AM on January 23

If you're on facebook or other social media, I'd post about this and make it shareable by friends.

Depending on the type of workplace you have, I'd reach out informally to colleagues too.

You could also reach out to Cats Protection or another cat rescue charity with branches local to you - NOT to rehome him permanently but to ask if any of their foster or volunteer network might be able to help.
posted by unicorn chaser at 10:25 AM on January 23

Ask your vet, ask your friends, ask local cat sitters. There's a very tiny cattery in my immediate area that takes one to three cats from the same family at a time only, and hosts the cats in what (from the photos I've seen - I've not been there myself) looks to be a furnished-for-humans garden extension, with plenty of cat toys but also a sofa, etc, and the cats get plenty of love and play from humans. I would never have known they existed, if I hadn't been pointed at them by my usual cat sitter. There may be something like that in your area, too.

(My situation was somewhat different, in that I was looking for a replacement cat sitter for the Christmas period after my usual had a family issue and had to cancel on me, so I ended up having the people who run that cattery come to my house twice a day for standard cat sitting instead. Still, the point remains, I could not have found them myself.)
posted by sailoreagle at 6:41 AM on January 24

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