Keep changes to a minimum for your cat if you have to go away

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 March, 2011, 12:00am

Mark Twain once said: 'Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat.' There is no need to worry about your cat when you are out of town - cat-sitting services and catteries are here to keep your feline friend as pampered as Garfield.

Tucked away in Sai Kung Country Park, Ferndale Kennels offers an indoor air-conditioned cattery with a three-level 'condo' for the cats to stay in. The animals have an upstairs sleeping area with a rug, lounging shelf and a downstairs area with a litter tray and feeding space. If two cats come from the same home, they are allowed connecting condos. There's even a gym where they can flex their muscles.

'We make sure the cats get plenty of human contact as they would in a normal home environment to keep things as regular as possible,' says Stacy Tucker, owner of Ferndale Kennels. She is a qualified pet nutrition consultant and has a diploma in animal husbandry. 'Cats do not like change. We carefully monitor them for signs of illness or reduction in food or water intake, as these can cause medical problems.'

But the cattery is also aware that cats value their own company. 'Should they want to get away from people and [have] things to play with, each condo has an upper area where the cats can go to get away,' Tucker says. 'Or if they prefer, they can come down a level and watch what is happening.'

The cattery's daily rate is HK$100 for short-haired cats that don't require brushing every day and HK$120 for long-haired cats that need daily grooming. 'The only other cost is HK$80 on entry for a single treatment against fleas and ticks to protect all our residents,' Tucker says.

Cat owners who prefer cat sitters to catteries can look up Cat Sitter Hong Kong.

As a cat owner himself, owner Calvin Yeung thinks that allowing animals to stay in their home benefits them immensely since they do not enjoy venturing outside their comfort zone.

Cat Sitter Hong Kong ensures minimal disruption to the animal's routine. 'Cats are extremely sensitive to environmental changes which would induce stress that would lead to behavioural and/or health problems,' Yeung says. 'Cats are happy when their daily routine and environment are not disrupted. We learn about their favourite activities so that we can interact with them just like their owners do.'

Each client gets their own webpage which is updated daily and documents all visits. 'Our clients will be able to check the status of our visits wherever they are,' Yeung says. 'We also communicate constantly through e-mails and/or text messages with them. There are two major objectives for us. Firstly, the safety and happiness of the cats. Secondly, to ensure cat owners will have peace of mind while knowing their cats are alright and taken care of.'

Cat Sitter Hong Kong also provides behavioural modification therapy for their clients' cats. 'Cats can behave in ways that people aren't that fond of,' Yeung says. 'When we visit a client and their cat, we can work with the client to deal with any behavioural issues the cat might have.'

Yeung hopes his company can help to make cat-sitting services in Hong Kong more popular. 'Cat-sitting is very popular in North America. It is different in Hong Kong where many people have domestic helpers. Many Hong Kong people are wary of people entering their home,' he says.