Finding a home away from home for your kitty

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Sue Ghosh
It’s vacation time… time to travel, unwind and be away from the hustle bustle of the city. But, one thing bothers all the time – what about my cat? Here’s how to choose a suitable crèche or kennel for your kitty.
 
It is not a good idea to leave your cat with a family friend or relative. For one thing, cats are highly territorial animals, so relocating them from their home can lead to trauma for the animals. Secondly, those who aren’t acquainted with cats may make the mistake of thinking that they are completely independent. That can mean a neglected, unhappy cat. In fact, cat parents abroad are known to keep their cats alone at home when they go away for short trips. They keep food and water handy. Sometimes a friend comes in to clean the bowls and the litter box. Still, that can’t go on for long.
 
A kennel for cats solves your problems but you shouldn’t jump at the first one you hear about. Koel Chatterji, a pet parent to both cats and dogs, started Meow Baari (Baari means home in Bengali) in 2016 with a group of her friends. They have all been fostering kittens and puppies for years. “I was approached by the pet parents of an ex-foster about keeping him with me while they travelled for a few days. That was the beginning,” explains Koel. Another animal lover and pet management entrepreneur in the city (Kolkata), Kashika Arora, runs a creche facility that takes care of pet dogs, cats and rabbits. The cats are kept in a large room that has air-conditioning and sunlight. “I have scratch boards, nice beds and balls for them,” she says. Here are a few tips to find the purrfect kennel for your cat.
 
Do your research. Go check out the space personally. Do the people responsible for its day-to-day running know how to physically handle cats? That is important. You can trust your pet with a hands-on person who will know how to handle your pet in case he is nervous in his new territory, with strangers.
 
Are the kennel people friendly? So, while most cats may not desire constant attention, leaving them alone all day in a room that is new to them isn’t wise. Koel stresses on the cuddle factor. She emphasises the need for patience, attentiveness, and cuddles; lots and lots of cuddles. “We have a very simple setup, infrastructure-wise, but I love having them around, so I spend as much time with them as possible.”
 
Basic grooming — a must: “We give the cats a dry bath every four days along with daily brushing for their coat health,” shares Kashika.
 
Is it safe? In addition to cuddles, empathy, basic grooming, and toys, there are some more factors to consider when you are selecting a place to keep your cat during your time away. Veterinary surgeon Sourav Roy explains, “The crèche should be big enough so that the cats do not get into fights with each other. In other words, it should be big enough to allow them to maintain their own territory.” He also says, “Confinement is very important as cats have escaped from crèches in the past.” And such cases of pet cats running away from animal clinics, NGOs and kennel facilities occur often. Koel Chatterji has metallic net along all the windows and has multiple doors to ensure that the cats cannot leave. Other crèches make similar arrangements because once a cat escapes in a foreign environment, the chances of finding him again are low.
 
Dietary tips: Dr Ajay Guiliani, a veterinary surgeon based in the Delhi NCR region says, “Cats should be fed the same diet as they are given at home even while at the kennel.” The cat kennel manager should ask you to list out your pet’s daily diet. Depending on their policies, you can leave the food items with the crèche or ask them what they can organise.
 
Handling emergencies: “In the event that a cat residing temporarily in a kennel becomes ill, it is wise to leave the contact details of his regular vet with the crèche. Ideally, the crèche should appoint a vet for emergencies, suggests”, Dr Ajay.
 
Make your cat kennel-ready: Last but not the least, a visit to your regular vet is a must before admitting your cat to a facility. Make sure that all the vaccinations including rabies, pneumonia and tricat are administered before the crèche visit. “Anti-tick and flea treatment and de-worming should be done by a vet before dropping off at the crèche to keep the cat healthy,” advises Dr Ajay. Indeed, cats can catch infection and worms from each other. You should already be de-worming your pet every three months (every one month if the cat lives in a farmhouse or open garden), so make sure that de-worming has been done. So, keep your check list ready and make in-person visits with time in your hands. Check up reviews on social media. Ask the crèche to send you daily photos of your cat. Once you find a place that works for you and your pet, you can travel worry free.