Christmas goes to the cats

Festive pets pack city boarding centres

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 13:00 22/12/2013

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Pet Santa sacks, carols and festively-dressed staff are on the cards as local pet boarding centres get ready for their busiest time of the year.

Avoca Valley Cattery owner Sarah Prince will spend her Christmas with 60 cats, and said she had been fully booked since about August.

Along with a Christmas tree and carols played through the sound system, Prince and her staff dress up in the Christmas spirit, though they do not make the cats dress up too. "It's all a bit mad," she said.

Tim Harrison from Bunny Lodge said everyone was "holding their breath" ahead of pets beginning to arrive this weekend.

Spread over 12 acres, Bunny Lodge will host around 180 dogs, 80 cats, four birds and half a dozen rabbits.

With two meals a day, feeding those 250-odd animals will take up most of Harrison and his staff's Christmas Day.

"That's a lot of bowls we've got to wash. It's a major drama," Harrison said. "It's good fun though."

Then the dogs also need to be exercised, including going for a swim in the kennel's on-site swimming pool.

Anna Phillips from Avon Cattery is full "up to the brim" with 30 cats booked in for Christmas.

Each kitty gets a little santa sack with treats and a stuffed mouse, plus Phillips makes sure she has extra staff in to ensure all the feline guests get "a bit of extra attention".

Amberley's A Country Home has been turning away people "for weeks," said owner Julie Collett, and bookings are already coming in for next Christmas.

The smaller, boutique kennel has nine cat units and 30 indoor dog kennels. During summer Collett adds some insulated outdoor kennels too.

Although Collett said she gets asked to look after the odd guinea pig, rabbit and goldfish, this year it is just cats and dogs.

All the guests will get Christmas presents: "nibbly treats" for the cats and pig ears for the dogs.

All of the boarding operators spoken to by The Press said they always had to take their holidays in the middle of the year, because the public holidays were too busy.

"We don't celebrate Christmas because we don't have time. It's just full on," Collett said.

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- The Press

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