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Kennels vs Pet Sitters: How to Find the Right Holiday Pet Care


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With the festive season fast approaching, pet parents everywhere are wondering about the best holiday care for their pet. Kennels vs pet sitters, cattery vs a neighbour visiting, small and intimate vs large and social? Or perhaps even a luxury pet hotel.

As much as we’d like to take them evvvverywhere with us, sometimes we have to admit that a holiday might be easier and/or more relaxing without them. We know, it’s a hard truth to face.

Thankfully, these days, there’s loads of options available… Kennel for dogs, cattery for cats, live-in pet sitter… There are even pet care services for feeding, daily walks and check-ins. Or they could have a doggy or kitty sleepover with friends and family. And that barely scratches the surface when it comes to the real decision of cattery and boarding kennel vs pet sitter.

Phew, so many things to consider.

Kennels vs pet sitters: A look at dog kenneling and cattery accommodation

Thinking of sending your dog and/or cat to a kennel and/or cattery? That’s great, but make sure it’s a holiday experience for them too – not like a week at boarding school!

We went across the ditch to one of our favourite animal shelters for some advice. HUHA NZ founder Carolyn Press-McKenzie recommends always visiting in advance to meet the caretakers and view amenities, saying, “You have to make sure they’re your type of people, and it’s the right fit for your pet. A boisterous Labrador puppy will need a very different environment to an older Pug who just wants to sit on someone’s lap!”

While an older pet might need a quieter environment, a young or very sociable puppy might prefer an environment with lots of interaction and daily socialising. Neither is wrong, but the right pet hotel or other type of holiday pet care will depend entirely upon your animal.

During your visit to the kennels or cattery, Carolyn recommends casting an eye over the animals and how they’re looking and acting, seeing whether the water is clean, and taking note of general safety and cleanliness.

Finding the right kennels or cattery can be a very individual choice, but you can also take recommendations from family and friends who you trust. If those people know your pets well, even better!

woman with cat sitting on shoulder

Tips to make your pet comfy

How can you make the cattery or dog kennels a good experience for your pet? What makes for the best pet hotel stay? Taking a few minutes to go the extra mile can sometimes be the difference between an okay experience and a great experience for your pawed family members.

Here’s what we suggest:

  • Take your pet’s favourite toys, bed, or blanket to make them feel at home. Adding an old piece of your clothing can be a big comfort to them too. Just don’t wash the item. You might think it’s gross but they loooove snuggling your scent. It’s like the pet equivalent of someone spritzing on your favourite perfume or cologne.
  • Spend some time with them when you drop them off, and don’t make a big fuss as you leave. They’ll know something’s up!
  • If there’s an option for pets to go to daycare or spend some time at the kennels or cattery, Carolyn says you should take it. “Letting them get familiar with the place beforehand means that they’ll be more relaxed when it’s time for them to stay there,” she says.

Kennels vs pet sitters: The case for pet sitters

Pet sitters are becoming a popular choice with pet parents. You might feel more at ease knowing that your baby is safe at home. One of the advantages of keeping them at home is that their routine and surroundings can stay the same. This is a huge benefit for anxious pets in particular, especially if they’re suffering from pet separation anxiety.

Carolyn also says that when it comes to pet sitters, “live in ones are generally a great option. I wouldn’t normally leave a sociable animal in the care of someone who pops in once or twice a day. Something like a Burmese cat, for example, might try and escape when the pet sitter comes in. They could try to go elsewhere because their social needs aren’t being met.”

Choosing the right pet sitter is key to a good experience. In order to trust someone in your house with the furkids, they need to be responsible and caring. The wrong pet sitter can be a disaster waiting to happen.

Maltese is this lady's best dog breed

Finding the most suitable pet sitter

Here’s what to keep in mind when looking for a pet sitter for the holidays:

  • Take recommendations from people you know and trust if possible.
  • Ask potential pet sitters for references from previous customers and a police clearance certificate.
  • Leave emergency contact details for you and a trusted family member or friend, as well as vets or any other relevant information.
  • Remember to give your pet sitter detailed instructions around caring for your pets. They need to know about feeding schedules and dietary requirements, behaviour and habits, and exercise routines. Any health conditions should be clearly noted too.
  • Make sure that your expectations are clearly communicated. You both need to be on the same page about how long the pet sitter will spend at home with the animals, whether they should take dogs for walks, and so on.

Of course, there’s always the option of travelling with your pet. Why not bring them with you so that they can enjoy a little holiday with their humans too? No holiday pet care needed. Except the usual care from their dedicated servants…. we mean humans…

If you take up this option, check out our tips for travelling with pets.

Pet insurance can help ease the holiday worry

We wouldn’t be pet parents if we didn’t worry about them while we were gone! Pet insurance can step in here to help alleviate some of your concerns. With dog insurance or cat insurance in place from PD Insurance, you know that your pet can get quality treatment quickly if they get sick or injured while you’re enjoying your holiday.

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