If you’re heading away this Christmas, you want to have peace of mind knowing that your cat or dog will be safe and happy in your absence. 

If you plan to leave them at a kennel or cattery, how do you find one that’s just right for your pet? 

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

Once you have a shortlist, arrange a visit so you can see where your pet will be staying.

You should be shown all the areas where your pet will be during their stay. Ask if there is any outdoor space for your pet, especially if your cat or dog regularly goes outside. They should have their own room or enclosure and it should be clean, warm and separate to other animals.

You should also be told about what your pet’s daily routine will be and how often you can expect to receive updates during their stay.

Speak to the members of staff who look after the animals. If they aren’t able to answer your questions properly, the facilities don’t look up to scratch or the animals don’t seem happy, then try somewhere else.

Any reliable establishment will ask to see details, including your pet’s vaccination record, any medication they’re taking, their vet’s details, and information on any illnesses they’ve had.

You should also be asked to provide your pet’s insurance policy details, your contact details, and information about your pet’s character, such as their likes, dislikes and their diet.   

Amy Ockelford, spokesperson for the RSPC advises: “Before deciding to use a boarder make sure you visit and check whether they have a licence, whether they have insurance, and that the facilities are clean, secure and safe for your pet.”

“Find out if they'll exercise and interact with your pet. Do they check them daily, how many staff do they have, and do they ask lots of questions about your pet's needs?” she adds.

Seek recommendations

One of the best ways to find suitable care for your pet is to ask for a recommendation from your vet. They may have a list of approved places for you to consider.

Friends, family members, and neighbours are also a good source of recommendations, especially if they’ve used local kennels and catteries for their pets.

Alternatives to kennels and catteries

There are other alternatives to putting your pet in a kennel or cattery, such as leaving them with a friend or relative.

This can be the least stressful option for your pet, says Amy, “especially if they'd be happier staying in their own home or going to stay with a friend or relative.”

Another option is to use a pet sitter, which also means your pet can stay at home.  The National Association of Registered Petsitters is a great place to start your search. When choosing who to employ, meet them first and introduce them to your pets, check their references and that they have insurance.  

Whatever option you decide to go with, if you follow the tips above and do your research, you should be able to head off on your journey knowing that your pet will be well taken care of.

For more tips on how to take keep your pet safe, go to Solved.