"I have noticed that what cats most approciate in a human being is not the ability to produce food which they take for granted - but his or her entertainment value" 17273 West Edwards Road, Antioch, Illinois 847-395-0554 847-395-5855 fax Let's Talk About Boarding Your Cat How Do You Arrange for Placing Your Cat in a Kennel? Stop by your local PCSA kennel and visit with the owner. Get acquainted with the people who will be caring for your cat. Ask questions; take nothing for granted. Find out if toys or bedding are welcome. Find out about the diet which the kennel provides. If there is a special diet which you would like your cat to adhere to, most kennels will allow you to provide such food and will see to it that your cat is fed only what you request. Discuss safety features. Boarding cats requires good security to prevent escapes. Discuss frankly any qualms you may have about boarding your cat. The kennel will appreciate your frankness and your interest. The experienced personnel at a Pet Care Services Association kennel are trained to recognize the warning signs of potential health problems, and will contact a veterinarian if they feel it is called for. Many times it is easier for kennel personnel to detect problems than it is for the owner of the cat. For example, urinary problems (a warning sign that deserves attention) can more easily be detected in the kennel then at home, because the cat is closely supervised. Yet, it is not part of the kennel's job to diagnose or to prescribe. If kitty requires veterinary aid while he is in the kennel, you should be aware that you are financially responsible for such aid. Discuss, before boarding, any medication or any special care that kitty might need. Most kennels offer a certain amount of individual care (playing with, talking to, petting) but you must be reasonable. Asking the kennel owner to allow kitty privileges which might result in an escape is not fair to either the kennel or your cat. Make certain that you understand the rate structure for all services and hours of operation. The fee for boarding includes not only the care of your cat but also peace of mind that comes from knowing kitty is safe and with someone you can trust. One standard for measuring the kennel owner's interest in this profession is their membership in the Pet Care Services Association. You can be certain that PCSA members are trying to keep current on the latest developments within the industry and that they truly care about your pet. Their membership certificate and PCSA Code of Ethics will be proudly displayed. Facts to Consider Keep in mind that cats react much differently in a strange environment than dogs do. Cats are instinctively solitary animals. They do not run in packs as dogs do. Therefore, when confronted with strange surroundings, a cat's normal response is to withdraw physically and mentally into a protected, solitary state. For this reason, cats enjoy the "protected" feeling they get from being caged while in a kennel. While it is true that most dogs want to run around and get acquainted, your cat will probably want to sit in the corner of his cage and stare, until he feels comfortable in the new environment. Human contact does not normally accelerate this period of acclimatizing. It has to take place at the cat's own speed. A common reaction of cat owners to the idea of caging is "kitty loves to run around." Perhaps he does at home, but while he is in unfamiliar surroundings his cage gives him the feeling of safety. "But what about exercise?" Here again, the difference between a cat and a dog must be understood. Dogs need space in which to get their necessary exercise, whereas cats exercise isometrically. This means that if a cat has enough room to stretch, he can exercise every muscle in his body. When your cat is in strange surroundings, around strange cats, he will undoubtedly much prefer "safety" to "space." Immunization Fortunately, within the last several years, there have been significant advances in immunization programs for cats. In past years, there were a number of contagious airborne viruses which caused serious respiratory problems in cats. These viruses could not be controlled by any means except complete isolation of all cats from each other. However, thanks to recent advances made by the veterinary pharmaceutical companies, there are now effective vaccines available to prevent such diseases. Most kennels have strict policies regarding the immunization programs for these diseases. You should be aware of the kennel policy and discuss it with your veterinarian prior to boarding your cat. In fairness to the kennel, you should also make sure that your cat is not exposed to any contagious cat diseases prior to boarding. Stress is a Factor Any animal in strange surroundings suffers from stress. This means that his normal immune process is affected, as well as his eating and digestive habits. Your PCSA kennel will do everything possible to minimize the effects of stress on your cat. For this reason, it is a good procedure for them to allow your cat to adjust to the kennel environment at his own rate. However, you can help to minimize the effects of stress by trying to make the boarding experience as pleasant as possible for your cat. Remember that the more often your cat boards, the more adjusted he will be to the kennel environment, and the easier the boarding process becomes for him. Therefore, several short periods of boarding prior to a lengthy vacation will probably do more to help your cat adjust to boarding than will anything else. For a variety of reasons, more people are discovering the delight of living with cats. In urban areas, apartment dwellers find that cats offer companionship, without the need for frequent exercise periods outdoors. In rural areas, cats still fulfill their function as rodent catchers for many households. If you are a cat owner, you are undoubtedly very attached to your furry roommate. However, there will be times when you will have to make arrangements for his care when you are traveling on business, vacations, or when out-of-town guests (who are allergic to cats) stay with you. Therefore, it would be good to examine some of the facts about cat care which will help you to understand the advantages of boarding your cat with a PCSA kennel. What Options are Available? It is important to remember that cats do not usually travel well. They do not usually enjoy it, nor do they adapt well to travel. Many people who try to take kitty along with them on their vacation end up spending most of their vacation time searching for their escaped pet. Leaving your cat with friends is just as unsatisfactory. Cats must go through an adjustment period in a new environment and this means that they will not look upon your friend's house as "home" for quite awhile. Therefore, your cat may try to escape from the strange house at every opportunity or hide as a fear reaction. Most cat owners recognize that it is not fair to impose this kind of responsibility on their friends, nor is it a safe arrangement for their pets. Having a kennel care for your pets in your absence is, therefore, the best alternative. Obviously, the most satisfactory way of arranging for such care is to entrust your cat to an PCSA kennel, where the security arrangements are adequate to insure that your cat will not escape, and where the personnel are trained in observing and handling the problems which might arise in your absence. Welcoming Kitty Home After you pick kitty up from the kennel, be sure to keep him locked in at home for a few days before allowing him to roam. Just as he had to adjust to the kennel, he will also have to adjust to being home again. Allow him to find that "at home" feeling again before letting him out of the house. Copyright © 1998 - Pet Care Services Association: A Nonprofit Corporation dedicated to the betterment of the Boarding Kennels Industry.