Is Daycare Right for Your Cat?
Imagine this: while you're away from home during the day, your kitty could be hanging out with their feline friends, relaxing on a cat condo, getting their head scratched. It's not just a dream, pet parents. Cat daycare facilities do exist and, more than likely, there's a cat boarding location near you with fabulous amenities and expert medical care for your kitty.
Why You Should Consider Daycare for Cats
While the average amount of time that you can safely leave your cat home alone depends on their age, behavior and health status, in general, you should never leave your kitty home alone for more than about twelve hours. If you're away longer than that, they could get lonely, and even anxious.
If you tend to work long hours, boarding your kitty at a daycare for cats could be a good option. Just like day cares for children (and doggy day cares), many cat boarding facilities offer hours that accommodate work schedules. You could drop off your kitty on your way to work, pick them up on the way home and then have a nice dinner together.
Kitty day cares also offer entertainment and enrichment opportunities, perfect for cats who are prone to causing mischief when home alone. While cats are sometimes less inclined to socialize with other cats, they love to spend time with humans, and they'll find plenty at a kitty facility.
Cat day cares also offer short-term care for those times when having your kitty around could be stressful for both of you — moving day, for example, or the day you bring home a new baby.
How to Choose a Day Care for Your Cat
You should allow yourself plenty of time to find a cat boarding facility that's best for your furry friend. Start by asking your veterinarian for recommendations — they're most likely to be able to suggest facilities that are a good match for your cat's temperament and health needs. Ask your family and friends for referrals, too.
Take into consideration your cat's dietary and medical needs. Does the facility provide on-site medical care? What is its protocol for emergencies? Can the staff stick to your kitty's medication schedule? If your cat is on a specific diet, make sure you're allowed to bring in your own food.
Before your cat's first visit to the day care, schedule a tour so that you can evaluate whether it's right for your pet. Photos are great, but an in-person tour will give you a real feel for the place and let you see how the staff interacts with the animals. You'll also want to check out the cleanliness of the facility, especially in the feeding, sleeping and play areas, and around litter boxes.
Dropping Off Your Kitty at Day Care
To help your fluffy friend feel as comfortable as they do at home, Animal House of Chicago recommends that you bring a couple of toys from home when you drop them at day care. Also consider including an item of clothing that carries your scent — a favorite T-shirt, a comfy sweater — that kitty can snuggle with when their missing you.
Also, make sure that she is outfitted with a collar that has your up-to-date information on it. While you shouldn't need to worry about her making a break for it while at daycare, it is always a good idea to keep a collar on her when you take her outside of the home.
It's natural to be worried about your fur baby when they leave the nest, especially the first time; but you can take comfort in knowing that they'll be well cared for at a cat daycare.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.