As we emerge from the Circuit Breaker in Singapore, and step back into a world where face masks, hand sanitizers and social distancing have become the new normal, what does this mean for travelling for humans, and pet boarding for our beloved furry friends?
Recently, the operator of the Platinium Dogs Club; a home-based pet boarder whose actions led to the death of a Shetland Sheepdog named Prince back in 2018, was finally charged in court with multiple offences; amongst them, denying veterinary care to an ill dog and abetting the furnishing of false information about her business. Separately, another company was found to have hired tourists to volunteer to care for dogs in exchange for free accommodations and meals.
How safe is pet boarding in Singapore?
This is not the first time home-based pet boarding operators have caused injury and/or death in animals left in their care, and shone a bad light on the pet boarding industry. It begs the important question of how much can we trust our pets with people and businesses operating in a largely unregulated industry, and more pressingly, why regulations have not been put in place to ensure proper standards of care for companion animals in Singapore.
In a post COVID-19 world, it is more important than ever that we ask – How particular should we be about transparency and care standards in the pet boarding industry locally, when the risks involved extend further than our pets, to involve human lives? As pet owners, the onus is on us to exercise due care and diligence when selecting a pet boarding operator. Here are 5 things we exercise at the Nekoya Cat Hotel to set ourselves apart, and to hold ourselves accountable to the health and safety of our feline friends and human clients.
1. Cat Boarding Guidelines
It’s not a pleasant thing to have to say no to paying customers – But it’s important to, when it concerns the health of all the pets sharing the boarding facility. Since our opening in 2016, the Nekoya Cat Hotel has only accepted cats for boarding who have met our Cat Boarding Requirements – Namely; sterilized cats in good health who are up to date on their vaccinations, and FIV/FeLV negative.
It was, and is not a requirement for operators to enforce admission guidelines for pet boarding. Always ensure that you ask about, and comply with boarding criteria, to ensure that your pet shares an environment with pets just as healthy as it is. Enforcing these made it tough in the beginning, but was what we firmly believed would be the basis for quality out-of-home cat care. As a result, most of the cats who enter and leave our facilities return home happy, just as healthy and stress-free.
2. Pre-Travel Viewings
It is always sad and unfortunate to read about cases of pet illness or death due to negligence of the pet boarding operator. Often times, grief-stricken owners come forward to share that they would never have left their pets had they known of the condition in the pet boarding or daycare facility, citing that they were unaware that they could have requested to view the facility. These situations could have been avoided had a pre-booking tour been requested.
As a pet owner, seeing and asking questions about the pet boarding facility of your choice should be a given. If there’s anything you are uncomfortable with, at least you would have had the opportunity to think twice about putting down that deposit. And as a pet boarding operator, taking steps to build trust and peace of mind is the investment you can make to retain a client. This is why we offer complimentary, private hotel viewings to all prospective Nekoya Cat Hotel guests, so that we can provide our clients with an opportunity to meet our caretakers and prepare for their boarding stay.
3. Basic Sanitation
Proper disinfection and animal handling are the foundation blocks to a well-run pet boarding facility. As we battle COVID-19, cited as the biggest threat to humanity since WWII, as well as hear of cases of pets coming down with COVID-19, we have to ask ourselves if we have been complacent when it comes to basic human and pet hygiene.
Just like us, our pets are susceptible to infection by viruses and bacteria. This risk is amplified in a shared pet boarding facility, and pet farms, home boarders and commercial boarding facilities like the Nekoya Cat Hotel are no exception to this.Without proper disinfection protocol in place, we leave the door wide open for outbreaks that threaten our health and safety.
Before entering the Nekoya Cat Hotel, all guests are encouraged to wash their hands and discourage them from interacting with cats other than their own. Cats from different households are similarly not allowed to mingle or play with one another during their stay. We continue to enforce this amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, and have taken measures to step up disinfection routines despite having fewer paying customers in this period, as we understand the importance of keeping our premise safe and clean for our feline friends, human customers and members of staff.
4. Standard Disinfection Protocol
A common complaint from customers who have used other cat boarding services is that their cats return home feeling ill (ie. sneezing, pest-ridden or lethargic). While it is impossible to declare an environment 100% free of bacteria or viruses, proactive disinfection can greatly reduce the risk of cross-transmission or active infections.
At the Nekoya Cat Hotel, we offer individual cat boarding cabins that are limited to use by two cats from the same household. Our shared play area admits only use by cats from the same household at any point in time, and we ensure that disinfection of individual cabins, and shared facilities are conducted with veterinary-grade disinfectants at least twice a day, or in between use by different cats. Having a designated, proper facility that is designed for housing cats and caring for them, alongside standardized operating procedures allows us to maintain a high standard of uniformity in cleanliness and service across all our hotels, keeping them free of nasty odours and sick clients.
5. Cat Accountability and Traceability
Finally, contact tracing has been an integral resource in stemming the spread of COVID-19 across the world. With animal care, a similar need exists to help us limit the spread of any animal-related outbreaks. Although not a requirement by law, pet owners may wish to ask pet boarding operators if they retain records of their pet’s health, activity levels and observations during their stays.
Such information is crucial in the event your pet falls ill while away from home, upon its return, and may come in handy if an assessment of its activity should be necessary by an attending veterinarian. These records are also good to have on hand for reference in between stays, to allow attending caretakers to be brought up to speed on the method of care for their feline charges.
With that said, as we reopen Nekoya @ KAP for boarding once again, we’d like to reassure you of the measures that we’ve put in place to safeguard our caretakers, feline guests and visitors. More of this can be found here. COVID-19 is far from being behind us and should you or any member of your family unit fall ill and are unable to care for your cat, The Nekoya Cat Hotel stands ready to assist in caring for your cat. For information on our Contingency Care Planning, click here.