Frequently asked questions

General questions | What to bring | Special needs cats

General questions

Q. I’ve never boarded my cat before — will he/she be OK?

A. Yes, almost certainly. The vast majority of our guests start to relax within a day of arriving. Even shy kitties seem to realize that they’re in a safe place, not at the vet’s office, and will eat and interact with us with a little coaxing. Most of our clients report that their cats readjust easily when they get back home, which suggests that they weren’t seriously upset by their experience here.

Q. How long have you been open?

A. Catnip Hill has been providing the Madison area’s best cat boarding since May 2005.

Q. What experience do you have with cats?

A. Christine, the owner and primary cat-pamperer, has had 12 cats of her own over the past four decades, and provided foster care for over 100 cats and kittens for various humane societies and animal rescue groups since 2002. Add in the hundreds of guest cats she’s cared for at Catnip Hill, and there’s not much in the way of cat behavior and health that she hasn’t seen.

Q. Do you give medications/insulin injections/subcutaneous fluids?

A. Yes. Please see the Special Needs section below for details.

Q. Do you have a minimum age for boarding?

A. No, but if your cat is under six months old, please mention this when you request a reservation.

Q. What happens if my cat needs veterinary care?

A. We’ll first try to reach you to find out how you’d like us to proceed. If we can’t contact you, we’ll call your veterinarian for advice and instructions, and take your cat in for treatment if asked to do so. For potentially life-threatening problems outside of office hours, we will take your cat to the Madison-area emergency veterinary clinic with the shortest wait time.

Q. Do you take deposits?

A. No, but if your plans change and you need to cancel or shorten your reservation, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can offer the room to another customer.

Q. How can I pay?

A. We accept cash, checks or credit cards. Payment is due when you pick up your cat.

Q. Can I drop off or pick up my cat outside of your designated office hours?

A. Generally not. Catnip Hill is a family-run business, located on the same property as our house, and Christine personally provides care for our guest cats seven days a week. The trade-off for this consistent, attentive care is that we limit our office hours so we can schedule our own appointments, do our shopping and errands, and enjoy our family activities. By keeping the disruption of arrivals and departures confined to certain hours, we also reduce stress for our guests. If you have a genuine emergency — for example, you need to travel at very short notice because of an illness in the family, or you’re stuck in traffic with your cat en route to Catnip Hill — we’ll make every effort to accommodate you. Otherwise, we ask that you plan to drop off and pick up your cat during the designated check-in/check-out times.

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What to bring

Click here for a printable checklist and map (PDF)

Required items

1. Please bring a certificate, receipt, or other documentation from your veterinarian showing that your cat is up to date on rabies and FVRCP vaccinations. You may also ask your vet’s office to call us with this information before your cat arrives. If your veterinarian has recommended no further boosters for your previously vaccinated cat because of old age or health conditions, we can waive this requirement.

2. We ask that all cats travel to Catnip Hill in a pet carrier. This makes check-in and check-out much easier and more secure.

3. You should bring your cat’s bed or blanket, or some spare towels or pillows to use as bedding, since there are no soft furnishings in our guest rooms. The familiar smells will also help your cat relax.

4. Be sure to bring enough of your cat’s usual food to last throughout the stay. You’re also welcome to bring special treats or snacks.

Optional extras

A toy or two is a nice addition if your cat likes to play.

Scratching posts and cat trees are welcome as long as there are no protruding nails or screws on the bottom.

We normally provide litter boxes and unscented litter, but you’re welcome to bring your own if your cat is very picky or has had litter-box “issues.”

We prefer that you not bring any dishes, bowls, utensils, can lids, and so on, since it’s very tricky to keep track of these things in the kitchen.

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Special needs cats

Elderly cats

Senior cats usually do fine at Catnip Hill. Most are able to reach the windowsill and loft with the help of a few strategically placed “steps.” We do recommend bringing plenty of soft, warm bedding for older cats.

Special diets

We’ll feed whatever food you provide, including prescription diets and treats, two or three times a day. If you’re boarding two cats and it’s important that they eat different diets, we may need to move one of them to a separate room at mealtimes, subject to availability of a vacant room, and in this case a one-time $20 cleaning charge for the extra room will apply. During peak times, such as Christmas and spring break, we may ask that you reserve and pay for two rooms. (We can reunite the cats outside of mealtimes if they are happier together.)


We give pills, eye drops, and most other medications up to twice daily at no extra charge.

Diabetic cats

We board cats whose diabetes is well-controlled with an established dosage of insulin.