When looking for a good cattery to board your cat you'll want to visit as many as possible to get a good idea of what's on offer, but how do you know if the cats at each facility are happy? Cattery staff will be happy to talk you through their hygiene protocols and show you around the cattery, but the behaviour of the cats can be an excellent indicator of how the cattery operates. A good cattery will take steps to ensure cats feel safe and settled such as providing individual cat bays that don't face each other, locating the cat bays away from any dog boarding areas, spending daily one-on-one time with each cat, and providing particularly nervous cats with lots of extra care and attention.
It's not unusual to see one or two cats displaying signs of stress when you visit a cattery and this could be because they are new arrivals or are feeling under the weather. However, lots of stressed cats should be taken as a warning sign that something's not working well at that cattery. Here's an overview of common signs of stress in cats:
Like humans, cats can experience digestive upset when they are stressed. Pay close attention to the litter boxes as you tour each cattery as several cats with diarrhoea is a red flag. If you notice several cats have vomited in their bays and the cattery staff assure you they're not dealing with an outbreak of sickness, you're likely witnessing widespread stress.
Over grooming is an obsessive-compulsive behaviour that's associated with anxiety and stress. The cats may be trying to comfort themselves and will often become focussed on one particular area of their body such as a paw or their abdomen. Watch out for cats that have licked themselves to the point of being bald or raw in certain areas.
Cats are known for enjoying time alone, so don't worry if a few of the cats at the cattery stay out of sight when you visit. However, most of the cats should appear relaxed and be enjoying a variety of activities such as eating, basking in the sun, playing with their toys, or using their scratch posts. Cats that are hiding and displaying behaviours associated with fear such as trembling or arching their backs are feeling stressed and unhappy.
Aggression Towards Humans
Cats that feel stressed tend to hiss and claw at humans, particularly in a cattery environment when they can't simply run away. This aggressive behaviour is a way of trying to control their environment and protect themselves against perceived threats, and it can also be an expression of how tense or frightened a cat feels.
If you're touring a cattery and notice many of the cats are displaying signs of stress, express your concerns to the staff and ask them what practices they have in place for managing stress. Ultimately, you want to board your cat in a facility you feel offers a safe and caring home away from home for your cat, so avoid anywhere that raised red flags during your visit.
If you want to know more, or have other questions, contact a company like Blu Ice Cattery.