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oriental-shorthairs-in-bedGoing away on holiday or planning a short trip takes lots of organisation and preparation, but the added pressure of organising care for your beloved pet can often add extra strain. For some pets, being in a cattery or boarding kennel is a fun trip away from home. For others, especially cats, it can be a very stressful change in their routine.

I understand first hand, how stressful it can be when you want to book time away from your pets but you are worried about who will care for them, especially if they are on long term medication. Many owners are often apprehensive about putting them in a kennel or cattery. Questions about pet care options whilst owners are away, are common enquiries we deal with in Veterinary Practice.

Rest assured, at Vet4life, we're excited to be able to offer a pet sitting service for all of our clients. We would also like to take this opportunity to offer guidance and advice on making the right decision for you and your pet.

Catteries and Boarding Kennels

If you do wish to place your pet into a boarding kennels or cattery, we would recommended getting them used to this from a young age. We would advise you give yourself plenty of time to do your research and where possible, visit the cattery or kennels to ensure it is well-built and managed with cats in mind, to ensure stress is kept to a minimum. The accommodation should be clean and hygienic.  Meeting the team allows you to ensure that they are well trained and caring, ensuring they provide a high standard of care for your pet.

By choosing a Licensed boarding cattery/kennel, you ensure that they abide by regulations regarding hygiene and safety. You should be able to see a copy of their licence on the premises.

Take care during the busier times of the year such as Christmas, Easter holidays and Summer months. This is  when the good cattery and kennels will be busiest so we recommend booking well in advance to avoid disappointment. Remember, you may need to show proof of up-to-date vaccinations before your pet is allowed to stay in their facility. You are always welcome to give us a call to check your pet has had everything they need for their stay (our number is 0208 977 3955).

If it is your pet's first stay, you may wish to put them in their cattery or kennels for one night prior to the big stay, to ensure they are comfortable in that environment and get them used to the surroundings.

We would recommend you visit the boarding kennels prior to use. Ask questions about how they are exercised, how often they are cleaned out and what their daily routine would be. Its always a good idea to find out how many dogs board at one time and take a look at how comfortable the current dogs seem. This also ensures the venue is clean, hygienic and not too stressful.

The Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) website has a great page of information about how to choose a cattery with the highest standards in their facilities.

There are even a number of kennel facilities that also care for small furies such as rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets.

We would recommend if possible, taking your pets own items such as bed, toys and bowls to make their stay as comfortable and homely as possible. This is especially important with exotic pets such as rabbits, as they can reduce their appetite and become poorly if they do not have their bowls and water bottles they are used to at home.

Alternative options

Some owners mention a noticeable change in their pet's behaviour on their return, such as reduced appetite or lack of affection. These subtle signs could be your pet telling you that they have had a stressful time whilst you have been away. You may prefer to keep your pet in their own environment at home and arrange to have someone visit them each day.

Cats are naturally very territorial animals, and can get very stressed in new environments when taken away from familiar scents, sights and sounds. This is why we suggest, where possible, it is best to find a way of caring for your cat within their own home. You could ask a trusted cat-friendly neighbour, friend or family member to visit them each day to offer them fresh food and water, give them some attention, play time and clean their litter tray when needed.

We would also recommend using a stress reducing plug-in in the home when you are away. Even when they are at home, a change in routine or someone visiting them can be stressful for them. We would recommend your pet meets the pet sitter prior to your departure and choosing someone they know is always preferable.

If you do not have a suitable neighbour or family member, you do have the option of a pet sitter visiting your pet each day. This allows your pet to stay at home and you can arrange how frequently they are visited through out the day, depending on your pets needs.  Pet sitters should be animal first aid trained and anyone caring for your pets should have your veterinary practice details in the unlikely event of an emergency.

We would advise informing your veterinary practice of the dates your pet is being cared for by someone else and if possible the person's details. Should your pet need any medical treatment, it is important your Vets have your consent to treat your pet without you present.

Dog walkers are becoming increasingly popular and can visit your dog regularly to take them for their walks whilst you are away. Some businesses even offer both dog walking and pet feeding services.

Here at Vet4life, we have a number of experienced pet sitters within our dedicated team. We are all very experienced in caring for all pets, allowing us to medicate patients on ongoing medication with ease and alter our care plans depending on your pet's needs.

I myself am Qualified Veterinary Nurse with over 10 years' experience caring for a wide variety of pets. I am local to the Teddington/Hampton area and offer pet feeding and sitting services for all your lovely animals. I have been caring for local dogs, cats and rabbits for the last year. I really enjoy providing this service in their own homes, as I feel it allows them to feel more relaxed whilst their owners are away.

If you need any advice on your pet care whilst you are away please contact the practice for more information.