As I prepare to board my precious cat Amazing Grace with my friends and colleagues at New Mexican Kennels it occurred to me that writing a blog article on preparing a cat for the boarding experience would be helpful to me and to our readers.

This will be the second time Grace has boarded at NMK, the first was a year ago when she was 10-months old. She did well during her stay. I believe that was due to the fact that she received loving care and the fact that she was a rescue kitty, and she was used to being in a smaller confined area for periods of time. Grace is almost 2-years old now and is used to being home roaming the house with her toys, her towers, her patio, and my bed. Perhaps it won’t be as easy on her this time. Here’s what I’m doing to prepare her.

Riding in the Car

The first few times I took Grace for a ride (to the vets as a baby) she howled her head off. Then, I bought her a new crate with top and front openings just like the one shown here. I put one of her blankets in it and left it open under my desk (where I spend time writing articles like this blog.) She had free access to the crate, went in and out, sometimes choosing to sleep there. The first time I put it in the car, she fussed a bit, then settled down. The second and subsequent times, being in her own space seemed to calm her and she didn’t make a peep.

Cat carrier

  1. Make sure your cat carrier is the appropriate size
  2. Leave it where your cat has free access and is used to the size and smell
  3. Take a couple of short trips going nowhere with your kitty that will stress it. Just a short ride with your voice talking, then home again

Preparing Your Cat for the Boarding Experience

Cats, especially indoor cats are not used to living in different environments, so the first few times the boarding experience may be stressful. Let’s see how we can reduce that stress.

  1. Boarding in stages. If you have time before your trip, visit the boarding facility. NMK offers kennel tours during business hours. Make arrangements to leave your kitty for a few hours or a day to help them acclimate to the new environment. If you have time repeat this leaving your cat for a different length of time each day
  2. Sudden dietary changes are not good for your cat’s health and add to the stress of boarding. BRING YOUR OWN FOO Prepare your cat’s food in individual portions (pack individual portions of dry food in small individual meal bags and bring canned food with the measuring spoon you use at home. Write clear feeding instructions for your kitty’s caretakers. DO NOT change your cat’s die
  3. Bring a blanket, piece of clothing or favorite toy. Any item that smells strongly of home (and you) will provide extra comfort to your cat which will help it adjust to its new environment
  4. Make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up-to-date. You’ll find NMK’s CAT FAQ’s and vaccination requirements here
  5. Bring all medications and instructions. If you’re not boarding your kitty at NMK, make sure your provider has this information as well as your veterinarian’s contact information. At NMK they always make sure they have those instructions, as well as any and all health information and your veterinarian’s contact information

It’s always a good idea to make sure your kitty has time to play or roam in a kitty playroom each day. Most facilities that have space dedicated to cats offer this option. NMK offers one-on-one playtime. Sessions are customized to your cat and can include, quiet lap and brushing time, a game of toy chase or a romp in the Kitty Room

What to Look for When Choosing a Boarding Facility for Your Cat[1]

Cats have individual and distinct personalities, and you, as an owner, are best at knowing your cat’s requirements – for comfort, diet, grooming, and playtime. Check that the boarding facility provides the services your cat needs.

Cats tend not to be too sociable with other cats. For this reason, most boarding facilities keep cats separate. If you have more than one cat, you may like them to stay together. Remember, however, that in confined circumstances, they cannot get away from one another, so its important to ensure they truly are happy spending time together.

Most cats enjoy a hiding spot within a cage, especially when they are a little unsure of their surroundings. Check that this is provided. If not, can you bring your cat’s own bed or box? Bringing items that belong to your cat may help make them feel more secure. Food provided in their own bowl or sleeping on their blanket may ensure continuity of care when away from home. Many establishments discourage this, however, as items can get damaged or lost.

Finding the Right Place for Your Cat

Get recommendations from family or friends, then visit the facility. Take time to contact the recommended facilities and go check them out. A good facility will let you see the layout, where cats are kept, and let you know of their policies. If you’re in Albuquerque, Visit New Mexican Kennels, talk to our knowledgeable staff. If you’re not in the Albuquerque area, get a referral if possible and be sure to take time to contact the recommended facilities and check them out. A good facility will let you see the layout, where cats are kept, and let you know of their policies

Questions to Ask

  • Cost
  • Vaccination policies
  • What do they do if your cat becomes ill or injured?
  • Are they accredited with a Pet Care Association? (New Mexican Kennels is a member of the International Boarding & Pet Services Association)

Cattery unit at New Mexican Kennels

What You Need to Know

  • Are the cats in a separate area away from the dogs? If not, you may want to look for a cats-only facility if your cat does not like other animals.
  • What is the daily routine at the facility? Feeding, cleaning, playing, and monitoring of the cats is important
  • Check to see if you can bring the food bowls, a blanket, and some toys
  • Can you bring the type of litter that your cat is used to using? Some cats are extremely finicky and may not use the litter box if the litter is different.
  • If your cat needs medication, make sure the staff is trained and able to do dispense it and make sure your cat gets the correct dosage
  • Check to see if you are allowed to bring the food your cat is used to eating. Ask how they handle cats that are so upset, they may not eat
  • Make sure the place smells and looks clean and is free of parasites
  • Ask how long they have been in business. If they are new, ask to see their business license

When you pick up your cat check the fur for any scratches or bugs. Also, be prepared for your cat to slink around the house and re-explore, s/he may even want to hide for a night. Do not try to over baby your cat their first night back home, let your cat adjust and relax on its own. By the next day, your cat should be back to its familiar routine and happy to be home.

Gracie says “thanks for reading my mom’s article. I’m going to visit my friends at New Mexican Kennels from April 3rd through April 6th.


[1] Dr. Jo Reghitti