Where can I board my cat in Melbourne?
May 8, 2006 6:10 PM   Subscribe

We need to put our cat in a cattery while we take a month-long overseas trip. We've never done this before. Anyone have any recommendations for a cattery in Melbourne, Australia? And what indicates a good or a bad cattery?

The cat is about eight years old, desexed male, up to date on all his shots. Normally we try to get someone to look after him in-house when we're away, but four weeks is a bit long, and he is a big sook so he tends to be a whinger when we're not around. Not having done the cattery thing, I don't know where to take him; the local vet boards cats but they just have small cages. I know I should look for something with a bit of space, natural light, a vet on call... any other tips for cattery-hunting?
posted by andraste to Pets & Animals (4 answers total)
I do like that this post has both the words "cattery" and "whinger" in it.

No advice on Melbourne sites, sorry. But when I've boarded my cat here in the US, one thing I look for is a place that boards only cats. My cat was boarded once at a place with both cats and dogs and seemed quite traumatized by the experience.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:17 PM on May 8, 2006

We haven't had occasion to use the cattery yet, but our Sydney vet seems to have a nice one. Their description might help you know what to look for, anyway. I do know that they mentioned that they'd only take cats that had been vaccinated for some specific diseases (I think that's the "Cat Flu, Enteritis and Feline Leukaemia" mentioned on their site), which you may not be getting if you just have an indoor cat. (Ours is indoor, so though she gets her normal shot every year, she's not protected for that heavy duty stuff.) I guess it's because she might be coming into contact with other cats that carry the diseases.

What about paying someone to come check on him in your home? Other Sydney friends couldn't find an available cattery spot so they found a service that has someone come by every day to check on them. Might be a preferable option if he really doesn't want to leave home.
posted by web-goddess at 6:36 PM on May 8, 2006

I think in this instance you are right to consider a cattery. Sometimes a stranger coming to your home to care for your cat can be both unsettling and distressing for the animal. Cats bond with people, not just places.

Your local cat welfare organisation/rescue centre or your own vet should be able to recommend a good local cattery to you.

Make sure you visit beforehand and speak with the owners and the staff who will be looking after your cat. Try and get a feel for their attitude to the animals they care for. Loud, bolshy, sulky, uninterested staff aren't the best people to care for your cat.

Some questions to ask when you visit - How many cats do they board? What's the average length of stay? What qualifications do the staff have? How much time do the staff spend interacting with the cats? Who is the cattery vet? Is their a vet on call 24 hours a day? How often are the cats checked during the day? Is the cattery licenced by the local authority? Is the licence current? What insurance does the cattery carry? How long have they been established for? Will your cat's preferences for food be catered for? Who will administer any medication your cat needs? Do they check on the vaccination status of each cat they board? All catteries should ask the owners for information on the specific needs of their cat. If they don't ask, and show little interest when you offer that information - consider that a warning sign.

Good cattery owners will volunteer essential information. If they don't and you feel you have to ask for every answer, then maybe this isn't the cattery for you.

More generally, the cattery should have individual, secure housing for each cat. Clear perspex, hygiene shields of about 3ft high should side each cat run to avoid the spread of infectious diseases. Cats should be able to see around their environment, and other cats, but not be able to bothered/intimidated by them.

There should be a separate area that is draught proof and private for your cat to rest in. Each animal must have it's own exercise area, access to fresh air, but also sheltered from the elements. Bedding must be scrupulously clean, so must litter trays. If the litter trays contain more than one pile of poop, find somewhere else. Litter areas and feeding areas should be several feet apart. If there is stale, wet food, drying out in bowls, if there are flies, find somewhere else. There should be no overwhelming stink of either faeces, urine or pine based disinfectants which are toxic to cats. There should be some stimulus for each cat in the form of toys, good layered resting/climbing places, such as cat trees in the exercise area.

A well run cattery should be a calm, clean place. The owners will encourage you to ring and check on your cat's welfare during your trip.

I second selfmedicating's advice about going for a cattery that takes only cats.

Enjoy your trip, knowing your cat is well cared for :)
posted by Arqa at 12:32 AM on May 9, 2006

web-goddess: he's an indoor/outdoor cat and gets antsy if he's inside all day, so he's had all his heavy duty shots, FIV and the works.

Arqa: excellent advice, thank you!
posted by andraste at 3:27 AM on May 9, 2006

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