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Licence Conditions for Cat Boarding Establishments

Standard Licensing Conditions for Keeping Boarding Establishments for Animals (Cats)

Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963


The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 does not allow for boarding catteries to operate without a licence from the local authority. Licences are issued subject to conditions which are designed to secure the welfare of the cats boarded by securing the following objectives laid down in the Act:

Swale Borough Councils standard licence conditions have been approved and adopted in the best interest of animal welfare and to improve kennel management. They are based on work by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and with the help from the British Veterinary Association, Feline Advisory Bureau, Pet Trade and Industry Association and the Association of District Councils.

Your cattery will need to comply with the licence conditions as a basic minimum standard before a licence is granted. The guidance notes are provided to give further explanation of the conditions. Experience has shown that investment in a good design and high standard of construction at the beginning will save much time, trouble and money later because of the ease that cleaning and maintenance can be achieved.

It is also important to consider the health and safety of staff and visiting members of the public and what the legal requirements are regarding waste disposal, noise and odour nuisance. Further information on these matters can be obtained from the Council.

For ease of reference the standard licence conditions have been set out in the text in bold type with the guidance notes adjacent in italics.

A boarding establishment for cats means carrying on at premises of any nature of a business of providing accommodation for other peoples cats.

Unless otherwise stated, these conditions will apply to all buildings and areas to which cats have access and/or are used in association with the boarding of cats.

Use of the term unit refers to combined sleeping and individual exercise areas.

The Licensing Process

Application for a licence must be made on the appropriate form, giving all the information required together with the current fee.

Contact with the Environmental Response Team should be made before building works begin to ensure that the design and construction meet the standard licence conditions.

An Environmental Health Officer for compliance with the standard licence conditions will carry out an inspection of the cattery. The local authority will also authorise a veterinary surgeon or practitioner to inspect and their fees will also be payable.

If the local authority refuses to grant you a licence you will be given notice in writing of the reasons. If you are aggrieved by the refusal or by any conditions, you can make representations to the Inspectors Line Manager for a review and you can also appeal to a Magistrates Court.

A licence will either come into force on the day it is granted and will remain in force until the end of the year or it will come into force at the beginning of the next following year and expire at the end of that year.

Inspections for licence renewals are normally carried out during the last two months of the current licence period but unannounced visits may be made at any time during the year. Please note it is an offence for any conditions to which a licence has been granted to be contravened or not complied with.

Licence Display

A copy of the licence and its conditions must be suitably displayed to the public in a prominent position in, on or about the boarding establishment.

Other legislation and issues to be taken into consideration by cattery owners are:

Notes: It is essential that customers and those responsible for premises management are aware of the licensing conditions.

If displayed externally, the licence and its conditions should be protected from the weather; preferably the licence should be displayed in the reception area.

The number of cats for which the premises is licensed and the number of isolation and holding units will be specified on the licence. Guidance to their numbers is found in the notes.

Insurance Notes: Adequate insurance indemnity should be arranged by the operator of the premises. This should be maintained at a sufficient level to cover the maximum number of cats boarded. Several companies offer policies specific to animal boarding establishments. Details are often advertised in pet publications.

Proprietors of animal boarding establishments are able to insure purely the liability aspect by taking out third party liability cover. In addition, you can insure against veterinary fees for accident and illness, death from accident, death from illness and loss from theft and straying. You must insure against public liability.

Employers Liability Insurance is mandatory for boarding establishment owners who employ staff; Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.

Certificates of insurance must be prominently displayed.

Staff Facilities: Notes: Adequate toilet and washing facilities must be available for staff in accordance with health and safety requirements.

An adequate first aid kit must be available for staff use.

Staff should be adequately trained in the safe handling of cats, emergency procedures to be followed and all other aspects of the licensing conditions that are pertinent in their work. Staff should also be regularly vaccinated against Tetanus.

Establishments Receiving Both Dogs and Cats

Notes: When the granting of the licence is being considered by the local authority, there will be a presumption against cats and dogs being kept within sight of each other unless good reason can be made otherwise (see standard licence conditions and guidance for dog boarding establishments).



The establishment must, at all times be laid out and operated in accordance with the approved plan, to be attached to the licence, before carrying out any alterations, plans must be submitted to and approved by the licensing officer of the local authority:

Notes: The conversion of existing buildings is not recommended. Experience has shown that they may be more expensive to adapt and less efficient to operate.

Application for building works may well require approval from the building control division and/or planning department.

The purpose of the plan is to aid interpretation of the conditions applied.

An approved plan need not be a detailed surveyors drawing. A site plan to scale of the whole site including domestic/ staff accommodation will suffice.

The interior and exterior of the buildings should be kept in good decorative order and repair. Outer paths, gardens, exercise areas and general surroundings must be kept in a good, clean, presentable condition. Failure to comply with this recommendation may be a consideration in a decision by the local authority to withdraw the licence for any reason.

A safe system of work must ensure correct use of chemicals and materials used in the cattery and must include constructional details suitable to reduce spread of infection, disease and contamination.

Materials used in construction must not contain chemicals harmful to cats e.g. phenol or creosote. Consideration should also be given to providing suitable finishes and adequate thermal insulation, which should be fireproof.

Where galvanised welded mesh is used, the wire diameter must not be less than 1.6 mm (16 gauge welded mesh) excluding any covering and mesh size must not exceed 2.5 cm (1).

Units may be of different construction e.g. full-height houses, half-height penthouses or similar. Units must also be of the ideal outdoor type or indoor units (either built within an existing building or purpose built as an indoor cattery). Wherever possible, such indoor units should be provided with an outdoor exercise area. Units may also be constructed in a rounded e.g. individual units entered from a circular central area. If correctly constructed and managed to the following specifications, all these will provide better conditions for boarded animals, improve hygiene and safe systems of work.

In designing a building conversion to be used as a cattery, consideration should be given to providing a window within the sleeping quarters with a shelf underneath, as cats are great spectators. Ideally, in outdoor construction, there should be a minimum 625 mm (2 ft) gap between individual units as the resulting airflow lessens the risk of cross-infection. In the absence of this gap, a full-height sneeze barrier between units is required (see 2.3.3). The whole point of hygienic and safe practice it to provide easy to clean surfaces.


Notes: Suitable materials for the construction of partition walls would be properly surfaced brick/block constructions, moulded plastic, glass reinforced plastic (GRP), pre-formed plastic-surfaced board etc. Sealing refers to the use of a proprietary waterproofing agent for sealing the wall against damp-penetration. Under certain circumstances, sealing of brickwork can only be achieved by rendering prior to sealing.

Current best building practice should be followed when providing coving for junctions between vertical and horizontal sections.

A sneeze barrier is particularly effective in controlling droplet infection, which is the commonest disease problem in catteries.

For sneeze barriers, it is preferable to use translucent GRP sheeting or high impact glass or similar which allows some transmission of light. Where a full height sneeze barrier is provided it will be necessary to ensure ventilation works effectively. A gap between units is not mandatory. If incorporated in new buildings, this gap must be a minimum of 625 mm (2 ft).

If there is no gap, a sneeze barrier must be provided to a minimum height of 1.2 m (4 ft). If a shelf is provided, the barrier must be extended to a minimum of 500 mm above the shelf and at least 150 mm beyond the shelf within the exercise area.

All wooden construction or framework should stand on non-absorbent (e.g. plastic) blocks to prevent damage to the wood.

Floors and Concrete Bases

Ceiling and Roofing

Notes: When roofing the exercise area, consideration should be given to installing translucent ceiling material capable of filtering UV light and providing adequate shade.

Where indoor units are provided, particularly within converted outbuildings, consideration should be given to ease of cleaning, energy conservation, wildlife access, lighting and ventilation. It is, therefore, advisable to have a ceiling height of as close to 1.8 m (6 ft) as possible. Where this is not practicable, a higher ceiling may be permitted provided it meets the requirements of the condition.


Notes: For ease of working, consideration should be given to the gates to exercise areas and doors to sleeping areas opening outwards.

A cat flap should be provided in the door to the sleeping compartment to permit easy access to the exercise area. This flap should be closed at night. In catteries of penthouse construction, where the litter trap is left outside at night, a swing flap should be used to prevent excessive heat loss in colder weather.

In an indoor cattery, there should also be a solid, full height door between the sleeping compartment and the exercise area to permit staff access from the exercise area to the central corridor through the sleeping compartment. It is advisable to have a cat flap in this door in order to conserve energy.

In new units, the solid doors between units and the central corridor must have an adequate viewing panel to permit inspection of the whole area.

In an indoor cattery, the danger of infection from shared air supply is heightened. Effective barriers to prevent cross-infection should be in place i.e solid doors, partitions and ceilings.


Notes: Windows when a security risk must be protected by welded mesh or be made of reinforced glass, polycarbonate or other impact resistant material.

In designing a building conversion to be used as a cattery consideration should be given to providing a window with a shelf beneath it within the sleeping quarters, as cats are great spectators.

Each sleeping compartment should have its own window, with a shelf beneath it to allow natural daylight into the unit and to permit the cat to look out.



Notes: Wherever practicable, each unit should have a source of natural light, both to the exercise and to the sleeping compartments.

Natural and artificial lighting must be of sufficient standard to enable efficient working after daylight hours.


Notes: Draughts can be the outcome of ventilation provided for animal health. Heating can equally be removed by ventilation. A balance is necessary between adequate ventilation and the unnecessary removal of warm air.

Ventilation is important as an aid to disease control, a protection against smell accumulation, and prevents excessive humidity of the atmosphere. High humidity should be avoided.

Sitting of the bed is an important consideration. Providing a bed with adequate protective sides to allow the cat depth to seek protection together with efficient individually controlled heating are considerations in protecting the cat.

Moulded polypropylene beds, which can be easily cleansed and disinfected, are useful here.


Number of Animals

Number of Cats Permitted

Notes: The number of cats permitted relates to the number and size of the units and will be stipulated clearly on the front sheet of the displayed licence. The decision regarding the number of cats, as well as considering unit size and numbers, will take into account the effectiveness of site management.

Cats from the same family, who normally live together, may prefer to share a unit. It is a requirement that operators obtain written authorisation from the cat owner before unit sharing is allowed. Where sharing occurs, the cats must be provided with separate beds.

Holding Units - The number of holding units provided should be agreed between the cattery proprietor and the local authority and noted on the licence. In general, holding units should constitute not more than 25% of the total number of residential units.

The use of holding pens should be kept to a minimum. It is strongly recommended that any collars or flea collars be removed while cats are being boarded, as fatal accidents regarding these have been known to occur.

Unit Size, Layout and Exercise Facilities

Notes: During cattery construction, it is necessary to use an appropriate design and correct materials to ensure energy conservation and to minimise discomfort to the cat.

The sleeping area may be at ground level or in the form of penthouses (raised sleeping areas). The latter must be a minimum of 90 cm (3 ft) above floor level with a maximum depth of 1.05 m (3ft 6ins).

All exercise areas must be covered with welded mesh and roofed with a translucent material capable of filtering UV light and providing adequate shade.

Where galvanised welded mesh is used, the wire diameter must not be less than 1.6 mm (16 gauge welded mesh) excluding any covering. The mesh size must not exceed 2.5 cm (1).

All main entrance gates must be lockable.

The relevant sizes of units and number of cats in occupation in summary are as follows:

No. of CatsSize of Sleeping Area
Size of Exercise Area
1 0.81 sq m (3 sq ft) 1.7 sq m (18 sq ft)
2 16 sq ft 24 sq ft
4 20 sq ft 30 sq ft

Greater than 4: The size required would be subject to the agreement and discretion of the licensing authority.

It is strongly recommended that in new units the minimum floor area of the sleeping area be 1.5 sq m (16 sq ft) as this allows greater flexibility in usage i.e one or two cats may be boarding in all chalets.

Communal exercise areas: New communal exercise areas must never be permitted because of the risk of disease spread and fighting. Where they do exist, they must be phased out as an immediate priority

Adverse Weather: In adverse weather conditions the responsible person must decide whether or not cats are given free access to their exercise areas.



Notes: The licensee must formulate a written training policy for permanent, part time and seasonable workers. The following are regarded as essential topics to be covered in the programme:

Transportation of Animals

All vehicles used by the establishment for the transportation of cats should be kept clean. Suitable carrying baskets or containers for the safe transportation of cats must be used. All vehicles must be secure and should not be left unattended when transporting a cat.

Temperature in Units

Notes: Many units have been built without proper concern for the welfare of the cat. The materials used in construction or the lack of sufficient insulation may not offer adequate protection against seasonal temperature variations. There will be periods in the year where ambient external temperatures will cause temperatures to fluctuate above or below the recommended levels. If the higher temperature is exceeded due to constructional shortcomings rather than normal ambient temperature then artificial means of counteracting this high temperature should be introduced. Where temperatures lower than indicated are reached, it may be more economical to provide localised sources of heat. The use of individual, thermostatically controlled infrared dull emitters is recommended. Ambient air in the bedding area should be kept at least 10 degrees celsius (50 degrees fahrenheit). Heated beds may also be used provided these are maintained in a safe condition. Convalescing or elderly cats may require higher ambient air temperatures.

The temperature of the isolation units should not be allowed to fall below 15.5 degrees celsius (60 degrees fahrenheit) generally, unless specific advice is given to the contrary by the veterinary surgeon.

The difficulty of providing maximum temperature levels is acknowledged. 26 degrees celsius (79 degrees fahrenheit) is a realistic temperature, which should not be exceeded, in normal circumstances. It is important to remember that a minimum temperature of 10 degrees celsius (50 degrees fahrenheit ) is required in the bedding area and, if inadequate attention has been given to construction and insulation, it will be necessary to use additional heating and thereby increase running costs. Failure to provide additional heating will cause cats to suffer. Particular attention should be paid to design and construction. Geographical orientation is also relevant. Aspect affects temperature. It is often difficult to maintain adequate temperatures with north facing openings. Correct attention to orientation of the unit will allow maximum use of natural light. Similarly in summer temperatures, poorly insulated exteriors will allow internal temperatures to build up (similar to car interiors) to excessive levels. Even with additional ventilation the cats will suffer Some summer temperatures will naturally exceed 26 degrees celsius (79 degrees fahrenheit). Inadequate construction or ventilation of the units must not be an excuse to allow unnecessarily high temperatures being attained. Where temperatures are likely to rise above the maximum levels specified in the notes, there should be some means of mechanical or automatic cooling/ventilation.

A safe system of heating must be provided so that risks of electrocution and burning are avoided. Open flame appliances must not be used.

Maintenance and report of the whole establishment must be carried out regularly to achieve the requirement listed above.


Notes: Arrangements must be made with the Waste Collection Authority or other waste management contractor authorised for the purposes of the duty of care under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for the removal of other wastes from the establishment.

Cleaning and Disinfection: There is a range of alternative cleaning regimes. Basically, the regime should include:

  1. removal of bed, litter tray and all removable fixings
  2. wash down, rinse and dry
  3. apply disinfectant to manufacturers stated instruction
  4. allow to dry
  5. clean and disinfect all fittings.

The use of detergent and water will wash down.

There is little point in putting down disinfectant only to wash it away in a short period of time. Using a suitable disinfectant can control bacterial viruses and fungi.

Care should be taken to ensure the compatibility of different bactericides, fungicides and virucides if used together.

There is a balance between the cat enjoying a known environment and introducing infection and infestation in wickerwork baskets and old clothing/bedding etc. Staff handling between units further increases the risk of disease spread. While owners own baskets and bedding may help a cat to settle, particularly during its first stay in boarding conditions, their use should be discouraged as there is no immediate control over cleanliness and parasite transmission.

Where such bedding is provided, the operator must ensure that it is clean and parasite free.

The use of scratching posts, sit boxes etc. is quite acceptable, although care should be taken to ensure that the post is properly fixed and frequently replaced.

Food and Water Supplies

Notes: Cats should be fed to a standard compatible with the maintenance of health. Inspectors will observe the general nutritional status of the cats and the type and quality of food in store and in the process of preparation. If necessary, a veterinary surgeon should be called in to advise. Bear in mind, cats will usually be fed in accordance with the instructions of the owner.

Food should not be left for excessive periods within the unit, in order to avoid smells and flies. More food and water may be required for old or young cats. No food should be left outside at night.

Disposable eating dishes, although expensive, are recommended as hygienic since they cannot transmit infection and are a saving of time and labour since they are immediately disposable. Expanded polystyrene is not a suitable material for this use.

Kitchen Facilities

Notes: Kitchen facilities must be provided in an area separate from the domestic facilities. No household or boarded animals should ever enter this area.

Disease Control and Vaccination

Notes: "Other relevant diseases" includes those, which may be regarded as important in the future, or which may be added according to circumstance e.g. Chlamydia.

Phenolic disinfectants should not be used around cats and cats should be kept dry during cleaning of enclosures.

If there is evidence of external parasites (fleas, ticks, lice etc.) the cat should be thoroughly combed with a flea comb. It may then also be treated with a proprietary insecticide except where a long-acting topical insecticide has already been administered.

If there is evidence of internal parasites, the advice of a veterinary surgeon should be sought.

All insecticides, disinfectants etc. must be used strictly in accordance with the manufacturers instructions, and hazard sheets kept for staff, which explains precautions to be taken by the user.

The first aid kit for use on cats must be kept well stocked at all times. Advice on contents should be available from the establishments veterinary surgeon.

It is important to consider procedures to be carried out in case of death or escape. All staff should be made fully aware of these procedures. They will also help to reassure owners that the establishment acted correctly in that situation. Any cat that has died on the premises must be referred to a veterinary surgeon and the licensing officer of the local authority must be informed. A veterinary practice should be appointed for the establishment. The name, address and telephone number must be displayed in a prominent position in a public area. The 24-hour telephone contact number of the veterinary surgeon used by the establishment should be displayed in a suitable place, close to the telephone and accessible to all members of staff.


Notes: Isolation facilities must be provided at the rate of at least 1 isolation unit for up to 30 units and pro rata above that. The number will be noted on the licence.

Isolation facilities must be used where the presence of infectious disease is suspected. Where stray cats are accepted by the cattery, they must be kept in a separate area away from boarded cats. Isolation facilities must only be used for this purpose in exceptional circumstances i.e where stray intake is minimal.

In isolation units, there must be a means of maintaining the temperature at a level suitable for the condition of the cat and dependant upon the veterinary advice. Extremes of temperature in the isolation unit must be avoided and the temperature not allowed to fall below 150C (600F).

Protective clothing and equipment for use only in the isolation facility must be used to reduce the spread of infection.

In new buildings isolation facilities separated 10 m from the main units must be provided.


Notes: Computerised, loose-leaf index card and book register systems are acceptable. If a book register is used, pages must be consecutively numbered. Records of the owners agreement to share may be kept on a separate form if a computerised system is used.

It is strongly urged that the establishment introduce formal boarding agreements, stating clearly the responsibilities of both parties during the duration of the boarding. The licensing officer of the local authority will consider the details recorded in the register together with the actual facts observed.

Owners should be encouraged to sign an authorisation for veterinary treatment.

Identification of Units

Notes: An alternative system of identification can be used with the approval of the licensing authority providing the system in use meets the criteria for identification and information provision for each cat and is readily accessible and easy to use.

The system of identification of the units must be capable of containing relevant information such as feeding habits and frequencies, medicinal treatments etc. If identified on the unit, it must not obscure the primary information. If additional information is stored electronically or manually away from the unit, the information must be readily and easily accessible.


Notes: Suitable intervals for visiting means intervals of not less than four hours starting at 8.00 am until 6.00 pm. A late night evening visit between 9.00 pm and midnight is strongly recommended to check the welfare of the cats and that the heating is working.

Fire Precautions

Notes: It is recommended that plans and details of the establishment be logged with the police and fire authorities. Fire protection advice must be sought from the Fire Prevention Officer regarding appropriate fire extinguishers and their correct siting, fire drills, fire escapes etc and implemented. The general maxim of people first in the event of fire is good advice.

Where rebuilding or providing new buildings, the Building Control Officer or the Fire Prevention Officer will give advice on fire proofing requirements.

The advice given by the Fire Prevention Officer should be in writing and particular regard should be given to the safe storage of flammable substances. Staff should know how to use the fire extinguishers. It is also advisable to install smoke detectors. Electric wiring within the units must be protected against damage by cats.

Cats should not have direct access to open flame-heating devices.

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