The tickets are booked, the bags are packed, it’s time for the family holiday. There’s only one more thing to sort out - what to do with the family cat or dog. Luckily, we have a whole range of good options in Hong Kong, but choosing the right solution for your pet can take some planning. Different services may also suit some pets better than others, so it’s important to consider what will work best for your dog or cat.

Boarding is the traditional choice, and we are fortunate in Hong Kong to have a couple of very good kennels and catteries. Kennels and catteries are an excellent choice for dogs and cats who are more social and outgoing. Many dogs actually enjoy going to the kennels and playing with all of the other dogs. Boarding is less suitable for nervous, shy or anxious pets, or pets with complicated dietary or medical requirements.

I’d recommend pet owners visit a kennel or cattery prior to leaving their pet to check the conditions and facilities - the good operators will welcome you. A good kennel will have large enclosures (called runs) for dogs where they can get a little exercise, and cat confines should each be divided into an ‘open’ section that has clear perspex windows where the cat can watch the world go by, as well as a ‘closed’ section that is dark and quiet and the cat can go for some privacy. The kennels and cattery should of course be well ventilated and clean, and staff should be friendly and attentive to the animals. Remember to check that the kennel is licensed by the government.

It’s worth enquiring about extra options - some kennels offer services such as dog walking, grooming, room upgrades, play time and even massages. Not always necessary, but it could make your pet’s stay more fun. You can check out our list of recommended pet boarding facilities here.

There is also a house boarding service in Hong Kong, where the kennel owner has arranged his own home as a small licensed kennel and will keep people’s dogs in a more homely, familiar environment. He only takes small numbers of dogs and they must be well socialised and behaved, but this can be an excellent option for some dogs. DB Dog Dayz offer a great home boarding service.

Pet-sitting services are also very popular in Hong Kong. This option is more suitable for cats than dogs, and can be an excellent choice for nervous felines. Stress and interruption to routine is greatly minimised as the cat can stay in their own familiar environment. The pet-sitter usually visits the owner’s house once daily, spends some time playing with the pet and makes sure they’re happy, replaces the food and water and cleans the litter. Pet sitting services can be a little more expensive, but they also ensure that pets get individual attention and care. I’d recommend pet owners choose a reliable and well-established pet sitter - word of mouth and online recommendations are a great source of information. Good pet sitters will be more than happy to discuss your cat and their individual needs over the phone or in person before you travel. We recommend Furrenz Pet-Sitters.

Apart from in-home pet sitting service, pet sitting companies also provide dog walking service which might meet your needs if you are having dogs. Using a professional dog walker reaps benefits for both dogs and owners. For dogs, having a regular walk could help maintaining their physical fitness as well as fulfilling their social needs by hanging out with the dog walker. Behavioural problem would also be minimised by consuming their accumulated energy and having a discipline walk. On the other hand, the dog walker will frequently update you about the current status of your dogs. They are also willing to communicate with you if you have any concerns. Hence, the pet owners can enjoy their vacation with a peace of mind when their pets are receiving tender loving care from pet sitter. Another pet sitting company that we highly recommend is Pet Sitting Diary.

One variation on the pet sitting service that I do see quite often is when a neighbour or friend offers to come around daily to check on the cat. This can be a great choice, but make sure your amateur sitter has exact instructions on feeding, care and things to watch out for.

If you choose this option and would like a veterinary nurse or veterinarian to come and check on your pet during your absence, you can contact Creature Comforts to arrange a special visit.

Lastly, it is possible to take your pet with you on holidays, especially if you’re travelling to Europe or North America as there is no quarantine as long as medical requirements are met and valid permits have been issued. It is a little more complicated, and I’d only recommend it if you’re going on a long holiday, but I do see a number of people that take their pets with them every year. This option is more suitable for dogs than cats, and it’s not cheap - the total cost is around the same as a business class airfare for a person. The dog must be up to date with their G6 and Rabies vaccinations and they must have a valid dog license. They also need to have a rabies antibody blood test before they leave, and government endorsed certificates and re-entry permits must be obtained. This does require some expertise, and I’d definitely recommend pet owners use the service of one of the experienced pet travel companies.

All of the options are good choices, especially if you consider what will suit your pet. Remember to book well in advance for any of these options, as demand can get quite high over the holiday season. And with a little thinking and planning, there’s a good chance your pet will have an enjoyable stay-cation while you’re off on holidays.