Skip to main content

How you can take the stress out of boarding for your cat

Boarding pets is often a necessary choice when you’re traveling for work or vacation, but some pets take to boarding more easily than others. Boarding can be particularly stressful for cats, and many cats don’t handle busy, loud environments and change well. If you know that you’re going to need to board your cat in the future, then preparing with certain tasks can help reduce your cat’s stress while he’s being boarded. You won’t be able to remove stress entirely, but with a little extra effort, you can make your cat’s boarding stay as low-stress as possible.

Bring your cat in for a veterinary evaluation

Start by scheduling an appointment with your vet to have your cat’s health evaluated. This health assessment can identify any potential issues your cat might have, like heart conditions, that could be made worse by the stress of being boarded. Many boarding facilities will require that your cat have a recent veterinary examination and be up to date on his vaccinations, so this appointment may be a necessary step in getting your cat ready for boarding.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Talk to your vet about medication

While you’re at that vet appointment, talk to your vet about potentially supporting your cat with an anti-anxiety medication while he’s in boarding. Pets who experience severe stress may benefit from medication, especially if your cat has had a previously negative boarding experience. Your vet can discuss medication options and pros and cons with you, and together you can make the choice that’s best for your cat.

Introduce your cat with a one-night stay

Leaving your cat in boarding for a multiweek stay can be a tough transition, especially if your cat has never boarded before. If you know that you have a long trip coming up, ask the boarding facility to schedule a shorter getting-to-know-you introductory boarding stay. Many facilities will allow a day or an overnight stay for new pets, which gives staff a chance to get to know the pets, and the pets a chance to get familiar with the facility.

If you have multiple cats who get along well, ask the boarding facility if they have a space where both cats can stay together. Having a buddy in boarding can be reassuring for your cats and may help reduce stress for them both.

Drop your cat off earlier in the day

When planning your cat’s stay, try to drop your cat off earlier in the day, rather than at 5 or 6 at night. Chances are, the boarding facility will be quieter earlier in the afternoon, whereas common drop-off times can be highly busy. Dropping your cat off earlier will give him a chance to settle in before dinner and nighttime. It also means there will be plenty of staff on hand to keep an eye on your cat as he gets used to his new digs.

When it comes time to say goodbye to your cat, try to avoid long, drawn-out goodbyes. Your cat is likely to pick up on your emotional state and your worry, and a longer goodbye can make your cat start to worry. Instead, keep things short and sweet to minimize the stress on you both.

Orange and white cat lying under blankets
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Keep things consistent

When you prepare to take your cat in for boarding, pack some meaningful items, like a blanket your cat likes to sleep on and some favorite toys. You might also want to pack a shirt that you’ve recently worn and that smells of you.

It’s also important to pack plenty of your cat’s current food. Ensuring your cat eats the same food during his stay will avoid a sudden dietary change, which can contribute to digestive upset.

The above tips can help make boarding less stressful for your cat, but it’s important to plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to put the tips to use. If you find that boarding still stresses your cat too much, then you might want to see if family members or friends can step in to care for your cat while you’re away. Alternatively, consider hiring a pet sitter. Many cats can get used to boarding after a few stays, but a pet sitter will let your cat stay in his own home, which can be reassuring for many cats.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
When can kittens eat dry food? The lowdown on what you should feed them
Tips on feeding your new kitten
A tabby kitten standing in a bowl of kibble

Caring for kittens is hard work, but it's one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. Not only are you responsible for the most adorable little lives, but you get to watch them grow and thrive! Preparing to keep them fed and happy, however, is a lot more work. 

Just like human babies have different nutritional needs than adults, kittens have different dietary requirements than adult cats. With few exceptions, your new feline fur baby is considered a kitten for the first year of life. (Large cat breeds like Norwegian forest cats and Maine Coon cats mature more slowly and don't reach adulthood until they're two years old.) Have you ever asked yourself, "When can kittens eat dry food?" We'll give you the full scoop on what you should feed your kittens — and when to change their diet.
Do kittens need wet and dry food? 

Read more
Is a Belgian Malinois a good family dog? Everything you need to know about this amazing dog breed
Belgian Malinois breed description, family behavior, and more
A Belgian Malinois leaps through a meadow of dandelions

If you're considering opening up your home to a new four-legged family member, there may be a lot of thoughts swimming through your mind. This is totally normal. Bringing home a new pet is a big change, so it's only natural (and responsible) to think through every aspect of the decision before you commit. One thing you may be considering is which dog breed would be best for your home. Although you may not be able to hand-pick your perfect breed when adopting a pet from a shelter, knowing a bit about the most common dog breeds can help you make an informed choice.
The Belgian Malinois is a breed often seen in cities, suburbs, and farms, though it's often mistaken for an entirely different dog -- the German shepherd. While they are related, these breeds are completely separate from one another. Familiarizing yourself with Belgian Malinois characteristics and traits will help you decide whether this may be a breed for your family, but first, we'll have to ask -- is a Belgian Malinois a good family dog?
Let's find out everything there is to know about this strong and loyal dog breed.

Belgian Malinois breed characteristics

Read more
Family member allergic to cats? Where to find hypoallergenic cats for adoption
Here's how you can have a cat even if you have allergies
Bengal cat peering around a row of potted plants

While our opinions may differ on innumerable issues, there is a universal constant we can all agree on: No one enjoys suffering from allergies. If you're dealing with itchy eyes, a running nose, constant sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or even hives, then you're suffering from an allergy to something in your immediate environment.
Maybe it's just pollen, but it can also be ... your cat. Cat allergies are relatively common, but just because someone in your family has cat allergies doesn't mean you have to give up your dream of being a cat parent. From bathing your cat to allergy treatments, there are a few tips you can use to limit exposure to allergens. Even better, you might even find the purr-fect solution waiting for you in a local shelter. Keep reading to learn more about hypoallergenic cats for adoption.

Should I adopt a cat if I'm allergic?

Read more