Choosing A Cattery

How to choose a cattery

Choosing the right cattery to leave your cat in while you are away from home is important but not difficult, however if you get it wrong your pet may suffer and not get the treatment it deserves or worse still may become ill or stressed and upset.

While you are away from your pets you’ll need to know they are happy and content. (And able to sleep peacefully feeling safe and content.)


The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, requires anyone wanting to board animals commercially to obtain a licence from their local council. The Act requires councils to ensure that the business in question observes certain conditions regarding the suitability of the accommodation provided and the welfare of the animals boarded.

To assist councils in doing this the CIEH (The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) convened a working party of animal welfare and industry experts in the early 1990s to draw up some model licence conditions and guidance. Councils do not have to use the CIEH model licence conditions, however many of them do.

The model licence conditions cover things such as the recommended size of the units, cleanliness of the premises, food and drink provision, rules on supervision, infection control and so on.

Visit and Inspect

Before booking you would be wise to visit the cattery you are considering and while there you can gauge whether or not it is following at least the main guidelines.

Local Authority Licence

A copy of the licence must be displayed in a prominent position in or about the establishment. The normal place would be in the reception area and the licence will show the number of cats for which the premises is licenced and the number of isolation and holding units.


Catteries and boarding kennels are responsible for the safety of the boarded animals and for their actions whilst they are in their care and other insurances such as employers liability are either required by law or sensible to hold. When visiting the cattery look out for certificates of insurance and ask what insurance is in place. Expect to see insurance covering:

  • The Care, Custody and Control of Animals
  • Public Liability
  • Employers Liability
  • Vets Fees – up to £1,500 per animal per year
  • Death and/or loss of an Animal
  • Advertising and Reward
  • Reimbursement of Boarding Fees
  • Personal Accident Cover

Construction and Layout

The recommendations are extensive and include:

Size of units – Minimum exercise area in a single unit of 18 sq. ft. (2 cat unit 24 sq. ft.)  and sleeping area of at least 9 sq. ft. (2 cat unit 16 sq. ft.)

Each cat should have its own sleeping and exercise area which is separated from other units either by a space  of 2 ft. or a sneeze barrier. Cats from the same family being the exception, who may share a pen or chalet.

Suitable and adequate ventilation must be provided.

Each house should be well insulated, and individually heated so that each cat’s requirements can be catered for.

Food and Water

The licence should cover the provision of food and water, how often and when and the kitchen and cleaning facilities. At least 2 meals a day, 8 hours apart are recommended as changing the water daily. This is an area you will want to discuss prior to booking and you may prefer to supply your own food if your cat needs a special diet.


A register of cats boarded must be kept (records kept for a minimum of 24 months) which records the following:

  • Date of Arrival
  • Name of cat and identification system such as marking or micro chip number or tattoo
  • Description, breed, age and gender of cat
  • Name, address and telephone number of owner or keeper
  • Name, address and contact number of contact person whilst cat boarded
  • Name, address and telephone number of cat’s vet.
  • Anticipated date of anticipated departure
  • Health, welfare and nutrition requirements


In addition, adequate precautions must be in place in case of infectious disease and  adequate fire and emergency precautions are in place