Help us keep your pet de-stressed.
Cats are creatures of habit and are often resistant to change. Boarding can represent a significant shift in their routine and environment. Some of the common issues we see with cats that become stressed include behavioural changes, becoming withdrawn, going off their food, or changes in their toileting habits.
At Balmain Cat Boarding, we are acutely aware of this and we have designed our operations around minimising stress to your cat and maximising their comfort and enjoyment during their holiday with us. While we take care to provide the best support when they are with us, there are things that you can do at home, both before and after boarding, that will also help in making your cat’s experience at Balmain Cat Boarding one they will enjoy every time.
We have come up with some tips for you that will help your cat acclimate during their stay, and reduce their stress before and after.
One of the most important stress reducers is getting your cat accustomed to being in their carrier. If they only see the carrier once or twice a year (when they are heading to the vet), then chances are they will resist getting into the carrier – it’s an unfamiliar environment that has historically led to them being jabbed with a needle.
The key is to create a positive link between your cat and their carrier to reduce these negative associations. We recommend that you bring the carrier out well in advance of the boarding date.
Place it in a prominent position in your house where your cat will have plenty of interaction with it. Let your cat use it as a nap space and offer treats in there. Place their food bowls in there for a few meals prior to boarding. Place toys in there. Place a blanket or other item that has your smell on it as this will make the carrier seem more familiar to them.
You can also periodically bring the cat carrier out throughout the year, even when you have no plans to visit the vet or boarding, and initiate some of these ideas just to continue the positive link between the carrier and your cat.
Other ideas include placing a punnet of cat grass in there for them to nuzzle against and to graze on as this will release endorphins.
Finally, consider spraying some Feliway™ spray in the carrier to create a calm and safe place for them prior to their journey to our facility.
In the lead up, it’s important to maximise the number of endorphins that your cat naturally produces – these ‘feel-good’ chemicals help prepare them for the transition to boarding.
Feliway™ diffusers or sprays are encouraged to be used as they replicate the pheromones your cat releases when your cat scent marks its surroundings, making them feel at home.
Another popular endorphin-releaser for cats is cat grass. They derive great pleasure in nuzzling up to it and chewing on it. Catnip and cat mint are also known to have similar effects.
Adding Zylkene™ to their food can have a tremendous positive impact. It is a supplement that works to settle the cat using a highly concentrated milk protein called Casein. It’s lactose free and extremely safe. Our vets recommend this calming supplement for any anxious cat. You can start administering it up to a week before your pet’s stay and continue during the stay with us. It is for sale over the counter at our Front Desk – if you’re interested, we recommend purchasing a bottle so you can use it before, during and after your stay.
When your cat stays with us it helps them to have something from home. Keep in mind it’s the familiar scent that’s most important, not what the cat will actually do with it. For this reason, a blanket or piece of clothing with your scent or your cat’s scent on it is better than a toy.
If you do intend to leave an item for your cat, please ensure that your items are clearly labelled. We recommend that you do not provide anything of high sentimental or commercial value, as occasionally things do get lost during the cleaning process.
As a rule, cats don’t like cars. Much of what puts cats on edge is the journey to Balmain Cat Boarding itself. A calm trip in sets your cat up best for a relaxed stay.
In addition to familiarising your cat with their carrier, the type of carrier you use can also help manage your cat’s comfort. It should be large enough so that they can stand, stretch and make a full turn. Carriers with options of top-loading and front loading are preferred, as they give us better options for moving a scared cat.
Place a “puppy pad” or some newspaper in the carrier, in case they ‘need to go’ on the way in.
When you get them in the car, make sure you secure the carrier with a seatbelt looped through the handle, and then cover the carrier with a sheet or blanket – the dark space will comfort them. Playing soft soothing music can help too; it’s a proven fact that classical music calms cats!
We recommend not feeding your cat in the 2-3 hours before transport. This will assist in reducing car sickness. Driving in a calm manner also helps (although we know this can be difficult in Sydney traffic).
Our reception area is shared with Balmain Veterinary Hospital, meaning that we welcome both cats and dogs in this entrance space.
When arriving at our Front Desk, you can place your carrier in a designated cubbyhole in the cat seating area to the right of the main door. If this space is already occupied, the receptionists may be able to place the carrier behind the desk with them, away from inquisitive dogs.
If the reception area is too loud and you are concerned about your cat’s welfare, ask our staff to assist finding a quieter area for you. We will endeavour to get your cat into a calmer and more peaceful area as soon as we can.
It is just as important to take your cat’s stress levels into consideration after their boarding experience. Cats often don’t have the ability to switch off and they may carry some residual stress during the transition from our facility back to your home.
For this reason, we recommend that you continue to utilise Feliway™, Zylkene™ and/or cat grass for at least one week during their resettlement back from boarding.
Additionally, ensure that your cat’s litter area is away from dogs, noise and other stressful distractions, at least for the first week on their return. Cats will often not want to go to the toilet properly if they feel their litter area is exposed and is not ‘protected’.
Once you feel your cat has adjusted to being back home, you can return them to their normal routine.
It is a strange phenomenon that we have witnessed over many years when you have multiple cats in boarding. Sometimes when you introduce your cats back into their home they seem to ‘not recognise’ each other, or they feel the need to re-establish territory. This can lead to aggression between them and in some cases, fighting.
This obviously perpetuates stress for the individuals. It may be necessary to separate your cats for a period when you re-introduce them to your house.We recommend utilising all the above strategies and supervise their interaction when they are brought home.
Rest assured that all Balmain Cat Boarding staff are well trained to spot signs of stress in your cat. We have strategies to deal with this to ensure that your cat lives one of their best nine lives during their stay. Our job is to make their boarding experience the best it can be.
Please email us if you have any questions or concerns – before, during or after their boarding experience.