We all need a break once in a while, but what happens when you can’t take your furchildren with you?
Here at Meowoof, we have never parted with our pets for more than a few days as we feel guilty about leaving them behind. However, we are overdue for an overseas holiday and it was time to indulge in ourselves for once.
We decided to visit boarding houses and see what services they offer. Being in Sydney, there are two noticeable clusters of boarding facilities: Dural and Duffys Forest. There is also a large well know resort in Sutherland called Hanrob with very mixed reviews.
Since we are closer to Dural, we decided to visit kennels and catteries in this area. There are many companies to choose from and if you plan it well, it’s possible to visit all of them on the same day.
Because there are so many boarding facilities to choose from, we didn’t know where to start. So we began online and exhausted all the dog and cat forums for recommendations. The last thing we wanted to do was send our furchildren to a place with bad reviews. We came across a few nightmarish stories that did not ease our hesitation or anxiety.
From the reviews and research, we then wrote a list of boarding houses we wanted to visit. Each company was then contacted for inspections. Some are open appointments that allow you to visit between a certain time, others are hard appointments where you will have to reserve the time to visit.
A tip is to structure your day around the hard appointments and slot the open appointments in between. This will allow you to fit a lot more inspections on the day.
Aragon is considered luxury 5 star accommodation for cats so we were interested in visiting as the photos on their website showed the closest living situation to what our cats have at home.
They offer two types of suites: Penthouse and Apartment. The Penthouse suites include a couch and an indoor area opening out onto a deck with meadow views. The Apartment suites are separated by solid walls and feature private window balconies. The cattery is raised above the ground which reduces the chance of flea and tick infestation. Each suite was very clean, tidy and felt homely.
Puss ‘N’ Boots
Puss ‘N’ Boots was a recommendation on one of the forums. It was established in the 1980s and is family run. The facilities may have been ‘modern’ with ‘stimulating surroundings’ at the time, now it just looks run down and depressing.
Puss ‘N’ Boots offers two types of accommodation: Apartment and Verandah Bungalows. With the Verandah Bungalows, your cat gets a plastic chair and some sunshine compared to the Apartments where there is neither.
The cattery had a slight smell and felt quite uninviting. In fact we compared it to the RSPCA’s adoption cages. The mesh cages aren’t fully enclosed so the cats are partially exposed to the elements. Many of the boarded cats stayed in their heated crates due to the cold when we were there.
They are a member of Pet Industry Association Australia (PIAA) and the wife of the owner is a practicing vet.
Aristo cattery is another member of the PIAA. We were warmly greeted by the owner upon arrival and informed of the ins and outs of the cattery. Similar to Puss ‘N’ Boots, the cats are housed in mesh runs. However, it was bright, cosy and quiet with no odour. Many of the cats were out of their crates, looking out into the garden.
Each run features multilevel platforms for your cat to perch and explore, however it may be a little crowded for two or more cats if they are used to a lot of space.
Cat In The Hat / Acacia Grove Canine Lodge
The idea of a boarding house that looked after both dogs and cats was very appealing to us as it would be convenient to drop off and pick up Udie and the cats in the same location. These two boarding houses have different names but are on the same property.
Cat In the Hat had spacious mesh runs and offer the option of connecting runs if you have two or more cats to board. There is a catarium (separate play area) where the boarders get an hour of playtime a day. This may benefit cats that are used to being outdoors.
Acacia Grove was the first kennel we visited and we were shocked at how dark and smelly the runs were. The concrete walls echoed the barking which may add stress to already unsettled boarders. Other than allocated playtime in one of the exercise yards, the boarders remain in their runs.
One of our biggest concerns was that both facilities were being looked after by one staff member, making us wonder how the boarders could get dedicated attention and supervision.
Abbotswood Boarding Kennels
Another recommended boarding house. We turned up at the appropriate time, only to be greeted by a closed gate. There was a note saying ‘back in 15 minutes’. So we left and returned 30 minutes later to the same message and closed gate. The phone went direct to voice mail.
We had to leave for our hard appointment at the next boarding house and had no interest to visit again. It is a shame that we didn’t get to inspect Abbotswood as they also board both cats and dogs. However, we feel that this is not how you would treat potential customers and it reflects badly on business.
Calabash Kennels and Cattery
Calabash was highly recommended by regular boarders. The owner was very thorough and upfront when giving her tour and it was obvious to see why she had gained such positive reviews.
The cattery is an enclosed building, warm and bright with three suites to choose from: Garden Villa, Balcony and Garden View. All suites are separated by mesh. The Garden Villas have individual outdoor catios, ideal for indoor/outdoor cats. There is also a large catarium for allocated playtime.
Dogs are paired and stay in their runs for most of the day. They get two supervised playtimes in one hour blocks with dogs of similar size and temperament. There were numerous staff about their duties and the facilities seemed modern and well thought out for their purpose.
Sydney Pet Resort
This was the only boarding facility to turn us away due to having a full house which made us more curious to see what made it so special. We went the very next week.
Do not get this confused with another facility which has a similar name. Unlike the other kennels we visited, Sydney Pet Resort is free roaming. The dogs are out in the large supervised play areas from 8am until 5pm and are kept indoors during the nights.
The yards looked very clean considering the amount of use and the dogs seemed relaxed.
Sydney Pet Resort has moved to Londonderry, NSW.
– Get recommendations, look for places with good reviews/testimonials.
– Don’t rely on photos of the boarding facilities, it is always better if you visit in person.
– Visit the places you are interested in, a couple of months in advance. Once you’ve made a decision you can reserve a spot straight away to avoid disappointment of your preferred boarding house being booked out.
– Inspections will give you a vibe about the place, does the entrance seem untidy, does the place smell, are the animals happy, relaxed, etc? Trust your instincts.
– It is encouraged to ask staff questions, see how they reply, are they energetic, do they love their job? They are the ones looking after your furchild after all!