So you’re off on holiday. You’ve got your neighbour to keep an eye on the house, to pop-in to water the plants, collect the post and your cat or dog is in a kennel or cattery.
What happens to your pet should they fall ill or pass away while you’re away?
Can I just say that the likelihood of this happening is very slim but in order to be a responsible pet owner you must prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
As responsible pet owners we should think about what are our expectations of the kennel or cattery if the worst happens. Unfortunately we found many pet owners had bad experiences when the kennel of choice didn’t deliver the service the pet owner expected. One reason we think that this is the case; most pet owners don’t plan for this scenario.
When researching your choice of kennel or cattery, there are some simple things you can do:
- Make sure you have a list of question for the kennel or cattery before leaving your pet in their care.
- Making sure your cat or dog is up to date with all their vaccinations (any good kennel/cattery will insist upon this before keeping your pet).
- All kennels should ask for your pet’s medical history or be provided with a written information pack on your pet if they have specific medical requirements.
- Ask if they have a vet on call 24/7.
- Do they have any contingencies in place should your animal be taken ill during their stay.
- Ask if they are prepared to take your pet to a vet of your choosing.
Remember that Kennels and Catteries aren’t mind readers
Unless you give specific instruction they will act as they see fit or not at all until your return. Before you go on holiday you may find it provides you with peace of mind if you make your wishes know in the unlikely event that your pet passes away. You should consider the following:
- Should the kennel leave your pet in the vet’s care?
- Should the kennel hold your pet’s body in cold storage until your return?
- Would you prefer that the kennel organises a cremation in your absence?
- If a cremation goes ahead do you want the ashes returned?
- Do you want them to be cremated individually?
We rung around a few catteries and kennels and their answers were all fairly similar and the great thing is there is a general procedure in place!
- Contact the owner to notify and see how they’d like to proceed
- Serious injuries/illnesses will go straight to the vets
- Most will cover the costs of medical treatment, these will be passed onto the owner.
We spoke with Greenlow Kennels, Cambridgeshire who talked us through their process which is similar to above and has a cold storage on site where they can hold your pet until you return home.
When leaving your pet in the care with someone else, like a sitter or friend, it should be common practice to give them the same information, your vet’s details and maybe some emergency money. You should also let them know the general well-being of your pet. How else would they know if something is out of character (other than missing you)? You should also provide and information or specific instructions on what you want to happen should they fall fatally ill.
You may find it useful to read some real-life experiences of when a dog has died in kennels and a cat has died at a cattery whilst the owners were on vacation.
With a little planning you can avoid the distress that comes from not having your wishes met.
The following are excellent sources of support for a bereaved pet owner. For more support we have published additional information on bereavement support.
The Blue Cross
The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service (PBSS) mission is to provide free and confidential emotional support. The lines are open from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm every day.
Tel: 0800 096 6606
Launched by Cats Protection, paws to listen, is a confidential phone line enabling owners to speak to trained volunteers who can offer emotional and practical help in coping with pet loss. The lines are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays.
Tel: 0800 024 94 94
The Ralph Site – pet loss support
The Ralph Site is a not-for-profit online pet bereavement resource. It provides support and useful resources to pet carers around the difficult time of the loss of a beloved companion. It consists of a website, a Facebook page and a busy private Facebook group.