Pet Issue: Where do you keep your Pooch when you’re on Holiday?



Not everyone looks forward to a long break. If you have a pooch or a kitten or even a toad that stole your heart, you will know exactly what I mean. It’s hard to leave behind your pets.

Some get fearful. Others go through separation anxiety! We’re not talking about the pets as much as the owners here who often break into sweat at the thought of staying away from their loved ones more than the unsuspecting creatures.  You are reading the words of one of them right here!

Canada is easily one of the more pet-tolerant countries. Pet owners represent $6.5 billion a year business. Combined with the USA, there are at least 9000 boarding kennels offering a variety of impressive services to more than 30,000,000 pet owners annually. (Source:

Pet boarding facilities are not just restricted to dogs and cats. You are allowed to embrace more exotic creatures that take your fancy from Giant Hamsters, the Hyacinth Macaw or Pot-Bellied Pigs.

That does not mean you can keep just about any breathing being that melts your heart. There’s a whole list of animals you can’t keep  such as chimpanzees, sheep and raccoons, however spacious your backyard. The Government of Canada is tough on animals that do not meet import requirements. The CIFA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) demands documents for all animals and animal products entering Canada. Whether you have a well behaved reptile or a poop-trained porcupine, all pets require vaccinations and permits.

But pets that are allowed into your home are indeed lucky. While you’re roughing it out with a backpack, your Garfield gets to luxuriate in plush spa-like surroundings, enjoying catnip bubbles during playtime. Your Snoopy gets to  soak in the pool, get deep massages and perch before TV screens when the activities wear him out.

Pet-Friendly Canada


Photo Credit: Internet

Canada is strewn with eateries that welcome doggy diners. There are cat cafes where feline beauties and cuties lounge around while you sip your Cappuccino. There are pooch-friendly lounges, luxury salons and resort stays.

That doesn’t mean Canada’s pet pampering services are the best in the world. We are far behind places like Tokyo that has a Hedgehog Cafe or New York and California that have dog-friendly patios in various nooks and corners. But Canada scores pretty high still.

There are at least 1078 pet-friendly hotels in and around Toronto (Source: There are dog daycare centres and parks that offer free Doga classes (dog yoga) for those who like a stretch.

Catnap Cottages offers indoor space equipped with “climate control” and “UV filtration purification system” for a comfortable stay for your kitties.

My pick is Cats’ Castle at Oakville where we often keep our kitty when we’re on holiday. They are one of the few facilities in the GTA that is exclusively for cats.

Cats Castle

Cat’s Castle, Oakville  Photo Credit: Joyeeta Ray

“We started out with dogs back in 2001 and then transitioned over to completely cats in 2009/2010,”says the centre. During the holidays such as Christmas, they “typically reach capacity with as many as 180 cats”. Even on regular days, there are at least 60 to 70 cats that stay from a few days to a week or more.

“Kitties take a day or so to settle in. All cats have different personalities. We once had a kitty stay with us for 3 years due to job, moving and personal circumstances,” says the owner.

These luxury boarding hotels go out of their way to make it fun for both the owners and their pets. Our little kitty comes home with a report card after every stay. At Cats’ Castle, kitties also get to pose for Facebook pictures and videos to pacify sniffling owners.

The Cat Boarding in The Royal Pets Hotel and Spa is set in an entirely separate building from their Dog Hotel. There are heated window beds with memory foam mattress, calming music and full maid and laundry service for their feline guests.

Hygiene is of the highest standards at these pet boarding facilities. “Cats are first cleaned and fed. We sanitize the suites, cats’ items and clean the cattery” says Cats’ Castle. Many of their employees have medical experience. They offer a variety of medications from pills, topical ointment and even insulin for the diabetic ones. If a cat falls sick, the owner or emergency owner is contacted and due help given. For urgent medical care, there’s list of vet clinics and 24h emergency available.”

If you or your pet are more paranoid than most and prefer an in-home pet-sitter, the GTA offers that option too. Some come in at specific times to feed, clean up and play with the pets while others offer live-in care.

Pet-boarding does come at a cost. Prices vary on the level of service and luxury amenities provided. Cats’ Castle charges between $27-$49 a night (excluding discounts and taxes). Add-ons can escalate costs. Live-in sitters can charge more for their own expenses. Non-veterinary facilities cost less than veterinary clinics in general.

Whatever the cost, the personalized care that your pet gets and the peace of mind that you get when you’re away are priceless. Here’s to happier holidays henceforth!

This article written by Joyeeta Ray was first published in The Canadian Parvasi , Issue 24, Page 3. 

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