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Going away for Christmas? How to choose a kennel or cattery

If you have plans to travel this Christmas, you will want to have peace of mind that your dog or cat is happy and safe while you’re away.

If your plan is to leave them at a kennel or cattery, how do you make sure it is the right one for you and your pet?

If a kennel or cattery is not the right option for you, always consider asking a trusted friend or family member if they could look after you pet for you.

Do your research

Take your time and plan well in advance, as Christmas will be one of the busiest times of year for kennels and catteries.

First, look online and make a shortlist. Stick to local places if you can, both for your own convenience and so you don’t have to keep your pet in your car for longer than is needed.

As well as carefully checking over each website, search for the name of the kennel or cattery online and browse social media for reviews from other pet owners. This will give you a quick indication of what kind of place it is, and how other people have found it.

Arrange a visit

  • Make an appointment to visit the premises. If you are not allowed to do this, look elsewhere. In a good establishment, staff should be welcoming. The following are some suggestions of things to put on your checklist:
  • Are they licensed and insured? Any organisation running a commercial boarding kennel or cattery must have the appropriate level of insurance and public liability cover to protect the interests of the animals in their care.
  • Do the animals currently being cared for have clean and full water bowls?
  • Are the buildings well-maintained so that there are no escape routes?
  • Are the floors in each kennel smooth and clean?
  • Do all the dogs and cats have free access to a run and a suitable covered area?
  • Ask if all dogs are locked in their own sleeping quarters at night in an area with suitable bedding.
  • Ask if the dogs are walked, where and for how long?
  • Do the cats have toys to play with, a scratching post and a sun shelf?
  • Can the dogs and cats have their own baskets/bedding to help them feel more at home?
  • What happens if my pet has separation anxiety?
  • Is there evidence of a diet chart in the kitchen for all animals currently under their care?

A good kennel or cattery will as you certain questions prior to or during the booking process:

  • Proof of up-to-date vaccination status to prevent spread of disease.
  • Information about your pet such as name, age, eating habits or special diets, likes and dislikes.
  • Any relevant medical history.
  • Contact details for your vet and for a friend or relative who could make a decision on your behalf if necessary.