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Cat Boarding in a Cattery vs Cat Sitting – Should I board my cat or get a cat sitter?

9 May 2021.


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?

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

Catteries and boarding facilities:

Boarding your cat at someone’s 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?

What are the disadvantages of hiring a cat sitter?

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.

Need a cat sitter - day care or overnight

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

How does cat sitting work? Watch Here

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COVID-19 Updates: Flexible Cancellation and preparations for cat sitting.