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Options for when you’re going on holiday without your pets

As much as we love our pets, often we are unable to take our pet with us on holiday, or it’s not the best decision for you both. Options for pet care include boarding facilities or a pet sitter.

Planning ahead is vital so you can make a decision that best suits your pet and your budget.

Pros and cons of two common pet care options

Boarding kennel or cattery


  • Boarding facilities offer housing, food, and care of your pet.
  • Cost can vary, e.g., depending on whether your pet has their own room or shares.
  • Some will collect your pet and return them to you afterwards.
  • Doggy daycare centres sometimes offer boarding, so your pet has a full day of activities and rests well overnight.
  • Some veterinary clinics offer boarding, so ask about this. This can be a clever idea for pets with health concerns.


  • Your pet is away from their familiar environment which can be stressful.
  • Individual care options can be limited, e.g., animals may only be fed at specific times on one standard diet.
  • Nervous or timid animals may struggle being around a large number of other animals and being handled by strangers.

Best practice recommendations from the RSPCA

RSPCA recommends you visit the kennel or cattery before you book your pet in for a stay. Check the hygiene, space, and conditions. Ask staff about their daily procedures and routines for feeding, cleaning, exercising and behavioural enrichment.

Seek referrals from other pet owners who have used the boarding facility. Your vet or local RSPCA may also have suggestions. If possible, trial a short stay to see how your pet copes and to familiarise them with boarding.

Inform staff of any special diet/medication or health issues and behavioural issues. Ensure your pet is up to date with their flea/worm/tick prevention and vaccinations. You will need to show a current certificate of vaccination to the boarding facility. This is to protect your pet, as well as the other furry guests staying there.

Pet sitters: Pros and cons


  • Your pet stays in their familiar environment. Cats in particular are often happier at home.
  • A friend or family member known to your pet may be happy to help.
  • Pet sitters can often do extra jobs like watering plants, bringing mail in, taking out bins and keeping an eye on your house.
  • Having someone in your home may help deter burglars.
  • Pet sitters can live in your home or visit as needed through the day (visits may not be suitable in some situations, e.g., for longer absences or with pets who need closer monitoring, more attention or frequent medication or feeding).


  • You may not like having someone else in your home.
  • Unless the pet sitter is living in the home, there may be extended periods of time alone for the pet. This could cause boredom and stress so consider how to provide additional enrichment for your dog or your cat, over and above that which you offer them every day.

Take the time to find a pet sitter who is confident and experienced with your type of pet and can come to your home for a meet-and-greet beforehand.

Regardless of which pet care option you choose, always ensure that:

  • Your pet’s carer has emergency contact information for you and your vet.
  • The carer knows your pet’s routines, dietary and medical requirements, and behavioural traits. A checklist can help!
  • Your pet is up to date with vaccinations and parasite prevention.
  • You leave enough food, enrichment items, toys, bedding, medications, and all other essentials your pet might need.
  • Your pet has an identification tag with contact details and a microchip with current contact details.

At the end of the day, peace of mind will help you enjoy your holiday. Consider taking out RSPCA Pet Insurance to provide cover for part of the costs of eligible vet bills, should your pet suffer an accidental illness or injury.

Dr Catherine Tiplady bio image

Dr Catherine Tiplady

Dr Catherine Tiplady studied veterinary science at the University of Queensland. After graduation, Dr Catherine worked in veterinary practice whilst undertaking postgraduate research in Animal Welfare, gaining additional degrees in Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Studies) (Hons 1) and a PhD. Dr Catherine has published widely in peer reviewed scientific journals and has also authored a book, ‘Animal Abuse: Helping Animals and People’. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Catherine also has her own business performing gentle in-home pet euthanasia and provides veterinary care and desexing services for animal welfare charities. Dr Catherine brings her passion for animal welfare, love of writing and scientific training together to contribute quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance’s Pet Care blog.