Taking Kitty to the Kennel: Four Ways to Make the Experience Less Stressful

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Most dogs adapt to new situations, like staying at a kennel, pretty well. Cats, however, are another story. If you need to leave your cat at the kennel, whether just overnight or for a few weeks, it's important to take some steps to make the experience less stressful for your pet.

Practice putting your cat in the crate beforehand.

Most cats are not used to getting in a crate and traveling in a car. They usually only have to do this once a year or so when they visit the vet—and that's not usually a fun experience! Getting your cat used to going into the crate and riding in the car before the kennel stay arrives will ensure that this part of the experience is less stressful. On the first day of "training," just put your cat in the crate and give him or her a few treats. The second day, actually drive the cat around in the car for a few minutes. Once again, reward your cat with treats to make this a more positive experience. Aim for three or four car rides before the day of your departure arrives.

Purchase a calming spray.

Visit a local pet supply store like Mid Cape Pet and Seed Supply, Inc. and purchase a calming spray made specifically for cats. Spray the inside of your cat's crate with this product as well as your cat's bedding and a few toys. Bring these toys with you to the kennel. Their presence will make your cat feel more at home, and the calming spray will also help keep him or her in a calm mood.

Choose the right kennel.

All kennels are not created equal. Those that board cats and dogs in separate portions of the facility are better choices. Even if your cat is used to dogs at home, being so close to strange dogs will make him or her nervous. Also, makes sure the kennel you use has spacious habitats for the cats. A small, boring metal cage is not ideal. The best kennels have sizeable enclosures with climbing platforms and windows so your cat has plenty to do during his or her stay.

Bring your cat's food with you.

Most kennels will give you the option of bringing your own food or letting the kennel supply the food. Always bring your cat's food with you. Many cats lose their appetites when nervous, and when presented with food he or she is not used to, your cat will be even less likely to eat. Having his or her normal food will make your cat feel more comfortable.