HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

The Cattery Experience

Posted by HelenEdith on November 7, 2009

We went on holiday for a week in October and left our “babies” in a local cattery for the week.

When I’d enquired there about boarding kittens they said that they “loved having kittens” and that the kittens would “have a blast”, so I reckoned that they knew what they were doing. We’d also visited and seen the runs and they had said that they only fed high quality cat foods.

I dropped the cats off the Friday evening before our holiday. The person in reception at the cattery was surprised at how small Rolo and Monty were, but offered the option of allowing them to socialise, and as Rolo and Monty love running around, I agreed that they could socialise, mainly because I expected that it would give them more room.

I had never taken cats to a cattery before, and of course Rolo and Monty had never been, so we were all a bit unsure. Monty is the more adventurous and came out of the cat carrier and got put in a holding cage, but Rolo didn’t want to come out of the cat carrier. There were other cat owners waiting and the reception staff hurried me along to drag Rolo out and push him into the cage with Monty. I was told that they would be moved forward to their run when there was more time, so I never actually saw where they were to stay for the week.

I phoned the cattery up on Sunday and enquired how they were doing and the person on the phone hadn’t actually seen Rolo and Monty, but said that nothing was written in the book about them, so they were doing just fine.

So we relaxed and had our holiday and came home looking forward to picking up our cats. As the cattery doesn’t have Saturday evening opening hours, we had to wait for Sunday morning, when we arrived with our cat carrier. Rolo was waiting for us, probably having heard us coming, and he looked in good condition. The staff told us that Monty was very thin. Before seeing him, I assumed that as his parents are tall thin cats that yes, Monty would be thin. Monty had to be found as he was asleep and we put him in the carrier along with Rolo, paid our bill and came home.

When we got them out of the carrier, it was apparent that Monty wasn’t just thin: his little bones were sticking out and his flanks were hollow! He fell on the food we put down like he was starving!

Both cats were subdued and didn’t play like they normally do; and Rolo turned out to have an upset stomach. Within 36 hours, poor Monty started crying and threw up copiously, and also had diarrhoea. 😦 I phoned the vet for advice (it was about 11pm, so I got the duty vet) and the advice was to feed Rolo, who was hungry, but not to feed Monty. He should have access to water, and we should assess the situation in the morning. I also got up during the night to check on him, and he seemed OK although quiet.

In the morning, because of his extreme thinness, I decided to take Monty to the vet; and as Rolo, although outwardly in good condition was also having diarrhoea, I decided that he should go, too.

The vet weighed them; and Monty had lost virtually all the weight he’d gained since he was last weighed when he’d had his booster shots. At the time, both cats weighed 1.6kg, but Monty was only 1.63kg three and a half weeks later! Rolo, by contrast, was 1.93kg. The vet did comment that Rolo looks like growing into a larger cat than Monty, but this was still a huge difference considering their identical weights less than a month earlier.

The vet gave them half a worming tablet, as they’d been in a cattery and mixing with other cats; and although neither had a temperature, she decided to give each a precautionary course of antibiotics. Monty’s stomach was really sore from his puke-o-rama, so he also got Zantac liquid; and both cats got prescription bland food until their stomachs were better, when I was directed to reintroduce their normal kitten food. I was also advised to withdraw dry food until their stomachs had recovered, which was good advice, as they needed liquids, but was hard for Monty, as his normal diet contains mostly dry food.

Within a day or so, they found a bag of dry food and clawed their way into it for an illicit feed. At least they picked Royal Canin Kitten 36, which is supposed to be hypoallergenic, so I let them get away with it. I wanted to start moving back towards their regular food by then anyway.

Both cats were very good about their pink pills, and I didn’t get scratched or bitten at all during the time I was administering their pills. Rolo wasn’t too impressed about the procedure, but by the end of the week, Monty was treating it as attention and was purring through the whole procedure. He is such a lovely little cat, even if he is turning into a dear little pussy cat in both senses of the word!

Everything is now back to normal and we have our two playful little pussy cats back. I think that if I were to do things over again that I would not agree to socialisation. They wouldn’t get as much room to run around in, but they would have less contact with other cats and less chance of picking up an infection; and they would also not have to compete for food. I had assumed that even if they were socialising that they were being fed in their own enclosure, but maybe that wasn’t the case. Monty, with his preference for dry food, could have been losing out in competition with other cats if they had communal dry food. Of course, Rolo and Monty should have been getting dry food formulated for kittens, but I would suspect that somehow Monty was missing out. The cattery said that both kittens ate a lot, but somehow Rolo did well (although not brilliantly) there, while Monty did not do well at all.

I think we’ve certainly learnt some lessons over this. I don’t think everything is the cattery’s fault, although I didn’t like the way I was hustled out when checking them in and did not see the enclosure where they were to live for the week. I also wonder whether they should have advised against allowing socialisation for kittens that age. That certainly would have reduced the risk of cross-infection and removed some of the competition for food which I suspect that Monty was subjected to.

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