Keep in mind that cats react much differently in a strange environment than dogs. 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 the 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 enclosure 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 pace. 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 a 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.”
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. A professional boarding kennel will do everything possible to minimize the effects of stress on your cat. You can help 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.
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, so will he have to adjust to being home again. Allow him to find that “at home” feeling again before letting him out of the house.
First, you will want to pay a visit to your local kennels. 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 for your cat to folow, most kennels will allow you to provide the 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. Openly discuss any qualms you may have about boarding your cat. The kennel will appreciate your frankness and your interest.
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 kitty might need or any special care. Most kennels offer a certain amount of individual care, but you must be reasonable.
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 your peace of mind that comes from knowing kitty is safe and with someone you can trust.