How To Tell If Cats Are Stressed When You Visit A Cattery

Posted on: 30 July 2015

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Choosing a cattery for your beloved pet isn't always easy. You'll want to feel confident you've chosen a cattery that offers a high standard of care and can be trusted to keep your cat's best interests in mind when making decisions about the day-to-day running of the facility. There are many catteries offering superb care, but knowing how to distinguish the good from the bad can be challenging.

In addition to touring a prospective cattery to see where your cat will be sleeping and how feeding and waste management is handled, you can tell a lot about the quality of care offered by observing the behaviour of existing boarders. If a cat is feeling poorly or has recently arrived at the cattery, they may show signs of stress, which is understandable. However, if a number of cats seem to be stressed, this should be taken as a sign that not all is as well as it may seem. So how can you tell if cats are stressed? Here are four common signs to look out for:

Digestive Upset

Ever had a queasy tummy during a stressful time in your life? Well, cats are no different, so look out for signs of vomiting and diarrhoea when you tour the cattery. If several cats seem to have an upset stomach, ask the staff why. It may be the cattery is dealing with a viral outbreak, but if not, it's likely stress.

Obsessive-Compulsive Grooming

Cats engage in obsessive-compulsive grooming in an attempt to comfort themselves when they are anxious or stressed. They typically groom one area of their body over and over again until that area is bald or raw. Look out for cats either engaging in this behaviour or who already have bald patches, which are often most noticeable on their paws or abdomen.

Hiding In Their Bay

Yes, cats tend to enjoy their privacy; but if many of the cats at the cattery are hiding behind their bedding or in the shadows at the back of their individual bays, you are witnessing stress. You should be able to observe cats relaxing, playing with their toys and enjoying their food. Again, ask the cattery staff to explain what you're observing, as their responses can help solidify your opinion of the cattery.

Aggressive Behaviour

In a cat's home environment, they can simply go outside or into another room if they feel threatened or overwhelmed, but there's nowhere to escape to when they are in a cattery bay. If a cat feels stressed and unable to control their environment, they may claw or hiss at you as you approach their bay.

A good cattery will have procedures in place for settling in new boarders and reducing stress, such as providing anxious cats with extra one-on-one attention and locating cat bays in a quiet area away from any dog kennels.  If you're observing stressed cats, the cattery may not be adhering to the procedures they have in place for protecting the health and well-being of boarding cats, so it would be better for your cat if you found a cattery that offers a higher quality of care.