Plan now for your pet’s care over the holiday season as we check out the available options.
It may still be on the cool side, but summer and the holidays are just around the corner. If you’re planning a trip away, it’s important to start organising suitable care for your pets as soon as possible.
Catteries and kennels are always a popular pet-accommodation option and over the Christmas holiday period they can be booked out months in advance. If you haven’t already a facility in mind - start your search early to avoid disappointment.
By all means, ask your vet, family and neighbours for recommendations, but be sure to visit the establishment and check it out for yourself. A kennel or cattery may have changed owners since your friend sent her pet there, and the set-up and level of care could be quite different now. Visiting will allow you to view the facilities first-hand and to meet the owners and ask questions.
When it comes to catteries, you’re likely to encounter three different types of accommodation. Communal living means that cats are all kept in the same large area, sharing food bowls and litter trays. This option is less than ideal as the food intake and toileting of individual cats cannot be monitored, and disease can spread easily. With semi-communal catteries, cats share a communal area by day, but have individual night boxes containing their bedding, food and litter trays. As the name suggests, in individual catteries, all the cats are kept apart, but as a result, they usually have less space to wander around.
Kennels run by members of the Boarding Kennel and Cattery Association of New Zealand, BKCA feature a kennel and run, or a night box for each animal. There are also exercise yards, which your pet gets to use at least twice a day.
Some boarding setups offer optional extras such as hydrotherapy, professional grooming, obedience training and problem solving. They may also operate a pick-up and drop-off service.
Many catteries and kennels are prepared to take elderly and unwell pets, puppies and kittens, and pets with special dietary requirements. You could also ask about a kennel’s willingness to take bitches in season, or unneutered males.
Keep an eye out for these accreditation's
The BKCA (NZ) has one of the world’s most comprehensive sets of regulations for its members. Only catteries and kennels that pass inspection and meet strict rules on health, facilities and management can display the association’s logo (a cat and dog in silhouette). Businesses are inspected every 12-24 months to ensure they are still operating at the required standards.
MAF also runs an AgriQuality accreditation scheme for cat and dog-boarding facilities nationwide, with a star rating from one to five. These businesses must comply with stringent rules to ensure housing, health, hygiene, exercise, safety and disease-prevention standards are met and maintained.
For standard food and board, expect to pay the following daily rates:
Cats: $10 - $20
Small dogs: $20 - $30
Large dogs: $25 - $40
If you’ll be away for a period of weeks, rather than days, ask about long-stay discounts – most boarding facilities are prepared to negotiate fees for extended periods. However, in such cases they may require a 50% deposit up front.
What you should do: Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. No reputable boarding facility will accept a pet without a current vaccination certificate. Dogs need to have been protected against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus within the last year. A Kennel Cough vaccination should be given to your dog at least 5-7 days before entering a boarding kennel. You’ll maximise your cat’s protection against Feline Herpes Virus and the cat flu by vaccinating 3-4 weeks prior to admission to a cattery.
Take along bedding or special toys that will make your pet feel more secure and comfortable.
Be honest about any behavioural problems your pet might have, so staff know how to best manage your pet without endangering other animals or staff members.
Provide clear instructions about any special medication or dietary requirements your pet might have. It may also be useful to include your vet’s contact details, in case the facility staff has any queries during your absence.
Treat your pet for fleas before they enter the facility. This will stop your pet catching fleas from other animals and infesting the kennel or cattery.
What you should check/ask:
-Inspect the sleeping areas. Are they warm, comfortable and draught-free?
-How often are the dogs exercised and let out to play? Is the exercise area grassed with trees or other forms of shelter?
-What is the procedure in the event of an animal becoming sick?
-Ask about the nutrition offered. Which specific brands are flavoured? Is there a discount if you need to supply your own food?
-What is the daily routine?
Pet minders. These come to your home, either house-sitting and caring for your pets, or dropping in once or twice a day to feed, exercise and play with your pet. The benefit of this arrangement is that your pet will remain in familiar surroundings so it is less likely to fret while you are gone. Some owners also prefer to minimize their pet’s contact with other animals, reducing the possibility of exposure to illness. Ask your vet to recommend a trustworthy house-sitter or pet minder.
Vet-based catteries. Some vets also operate their own small cat-boarding facilities. This is an ideal scenario if your pet is elderly and/or requires special dietary and medical care. Prices may be slightly higher than other commercial catteries.
Take your pet, too. If you really don’t wish to be parted from your pet and you’re traveling within New Zealand, take them with you. The Complete Pet Travel Guide compiled by Pauline Wagner, offers a comprehensive listing of motels, lodges, B&Bs and camping and caravan parks that accept pets by arrangement. There are also details of dog-friendly walks and exercise areas around the country.