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Cat Boarding Blues: Why Boarding Can Be Bad for Cats

May 26 2023.

When planning a vacation or work trip one of your first priorities should be to find reliable pet care for your cat. And one of the most common quandaries paw parents face is whether or not boarding is a good choice for cats. The last thing you want is to board your cat at a kennel or cattery, only to feel stressed about their well-being the entire time you’re away. Is boarding at a cattery a good choice for your feline? Cat in a Flat finds out! 

What is cat boarding? 

Cat boarding is when you take your kitty to a facility or someone else’s home to be cared for while you’re away. Unlike cat sitting, where your cat stays at home and receives daily care there, boarding at a cattery or kennel requires your cat to stay somewhere else, usually along with other feline boarders. 

Catteries and cat boarding facilities can vary. They can be people’s private homes, or facilities only for boarding pets. Some have large, shared spaces for felines to interact. Others keep their kitty clients separate or house cats in smaller cages or kennels. 

Is it bad to board your cat?

Even if you choose an expensive cattery with amazing facilities, boarding your cat isn’t always the best option for pet care. While every cat is different—some might even enjoy staying at a cattery—most felines won’t adjust well to boarding. Here are a few reasons why boarding your cat can be bad: 

  • Stressful for your cat. If you’ve ever moved house with your kitty, you know that felines are very territorial and don’t like change. A complete shift in environment can be especially stressful for your fur friend. And if your cat misses you whenever you’re away, boarding at a cattery can be even more upsetting.
  • Unfamiliar animals. At a cattery or cat kennel your cat will most likely be around kitties they don’t know. Felines are very independent, and it’s rare for them to make new friends quickly. Introducing new friends to your cat takes time and patience. A cat boarding facility is simply not the right environment for this to happen. Hence, the unfamiliar smells and sounds of strange animals can be stressful for your cat. 
  • Change in routine. Our fur friends are creatures of habit and most likely your kitty enjoys having a specific daily routine. Cats like to eat, play, and sleep at around the same time every day. Any deviation from Mr Whiskers’ usual schedule can disrupt their normal eating and sleeping patterns.

Can it be dangerous to board my cat?

Unfortunately, a stressful environment can lead to some negative side effects for your kitty. It’s also difficult for you to control the quality of the boarding facility or the type of care they offer each feline. Here are a few possible disadvantages to boarding your cat: 

  • Illness. Stress can have a negative physical and mental impact on your fur friend. Cats can develop illnesses like cystitis due to stress, or become aggressive when they’re upset.  
  • Fleas or infections. At a boarding facility your kitty will be around other pets. And it’s impossible for you to control whether other people’s pets are up to date on flea medication and vaccines. Your kitty can pick up fleas or ticks from previous pets, or develop respiratory infections due to proximity to other animals. 
  • Accidental escape. It’s possible your kitty may try to flee from a stressful or unfamiliar environment. If a boarding facility has too many cats to look after, or the owners of the flat where Mr Whiskers is temporarily staying don’t take the proper precautions, your cat could slip away unnoticed. But, regardless of whether your kitty is staying at a cattery or you’re hiring a sitter to come look after them, make sure your cat is microchipped and that the information is up to date. Microchips are the most effective way to ensure you are reunited with your feline—whether they escape from a cat boarding facility or your home. 

Is hiring a cat sitter better than boarding my cat?

Hiring a sitter is usually a better (and safer) alternative for any feline. Here are a few of the major benefits of booking a cat sitter

  • Familiar environment. The biggest benefit for your feline is that a cat sitter can provide care in the comfort of your home. You want to keep your kitty’s stress levels as low as possible during your absence. Letting them stay in a familiar environment is one way to do that. 
  • Personalized experience. Another benefit of hiring a cat sitter is that they can adjust to suit your kitty’s unique needs. Whether your feline needs daily medication, has a particular eating schedule, or you want someone to come at the same time every day to let your cat in and out of the house, a sitter can offer a personalized experience. 
  • Guaranteed one-on-one time. One-on-one time isn’t always a guarantee when boarding your cat—especially if the facility has multiple feline clients at one time. With a cat sitter your kitty is guaranteed daily one-on-one time to play, cuddle, or simply hang out. Even the most independent cat can get lonely, and a cat sitter can help alleviate that. Regardless of whether your kitty is shy or social, they’ll surely appreciate the daily company!
  • Less stress. The last thing you want while on a vacation or work trip is to be constantly worried about your cat. Knowing you have a reliable cat sitter visiting Mr Whiskers while you’re away can alleviate stress for both you and your furry friend. 
  • Round the clock care. If part of the appeal of a boarding facility is that your kitty will have round the clock care, perhaps you should consider hiring a house sitter instead! A house sitter will serve as a temporary human replacement while you’re away. They’ll sleep in your home and spend a lot more time with your kitty than a regular pet sitter can. House sitters also provide the added benefits of making your house look occupied (so you’re at lower risk of burglary), taking in your mail, and doing other small tasks such as watering your plants while you’re away.

Here at Cat in a Flat we believe that the best option for your feline is to hire a sitter to look after them in the comfort of their own home. And our pawtastic community agrees! We’ve received over 100,000 customer comments telling us that at-home care is the best care. Not sure what tasks a cat sitter does? Check out this blog post to learn more. 

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