Since we got the news that both cats had arrived in Australia, we were keen to go and see them to make sure they were both Ok.
As you can visit your pets during the week (contact Byford quarantine first to check the latest opening hours for visitors) we hopped in the car and headed east to Byford Quarantine Station.
I always assumed that Byford would be very near the airport but having reviewed the instructions on how to get there it quickly became apparent that I couldn’t be more wrong.
I don’t quite understand the logic (and I really must ask the question when we go back to pick up the cats in early February) why the heck AQIS decided to locate their quarantine station about 40k south of the Perth CBD (and a good 25 – 30 minutes drive) from the airport. Byford is a nice enough place and all and it was a pretty pleasant drive out there, still why Byford was chosen as Western Australia’s centre for Animal quarantine, goodness knows.
We followed the instructions and arrived down Nettleton Road some 45 minutes after leaving Perth’s CBD. We arrived at approximately 2pm and you could tell it was visiting time as the small car park was already full and we had to park on a grass verge. Stepping carefully over ants, the size of my thumbnail we made our way to the reception area.
The first thing we became aware of was the sound of dogs barking, lots of dogs and we were concerned that the cats would be vexed by their close proximity to so many ravaging hounds.
Once we entered the cool, nicely air conditioned reception area however, the sound quickly subsided and we were greeted by a jolly lady who asked who we were here to visit, took our details and requested that we signed in.
Another lady then took us towards the back of the building, through a number of corridors, past about 500 cans of Whiskers cat food and then into the cattery itself.
First thing we were impressed with was the security. Byford operate a dual door policy which basically means before entering the cattery, you go through a small room which has a self closing door.
This means if any of the more enterprising felines tries to make a run for it when you open the main door into the cattery, the only place they can run into is this small room and not the outside world.
To be honest this makes total sense to me as the last thing you would want after spending thousands of pounds getting your cat to the other side of the world would be for some clumsy person to leave the door open, enabling your furry feline friend to make a bid for freedom.
Second thing that impressed me was the silence. Despite being greeted by the sound of dogs barking when we arrived, the noise in the cattery was pretty none existent. In fact, I’d say it was a positively nice place to be.
Once inside the area where the cats were housed, we were led down a narrow corridor which had rows of doors down either side until the our guide said â€œhere they areâ€
The door was opened and we shuffled inside to be reunited for the first time in about 6 weeks.
The first cat we saw was Jeff. Now a little history is probably called for here as Jeff may not be the most traditional of names for a cat.
Jeff used to belong to my sister; apparently he was found on a rubbish dump as a kitten and was adopted by my sister when she went to look for a new cat at the local animal shelter.
Even now Jeff has a liking for plastic bags and can be found on many an occasion hiding in empty supermarket carrier bags whilst we’re stocking our shelves up after a large shop.
Jeff was a Jess as a kitten as my sister wrongly assumed he was a girl!
He was kept as a house cat for about four years with my sister’s dog. They got on like a house on fire; in fact Jeff is probably more dog like then cat in many respects.
Unfortunately for Jeff, my sister got a second dog which didn’t like cats as much.
This meant Jeff started to spend more and more of his time hiding behind the fridge freezer to avoid being eaten.
We already had Charlie (our first cat who I’ll introduce you to in a minute) and we couldn’t stand seeing Jeff stressed when we visited my sister so we offered Jeff a new home and he graciously accepted.
So Why Jeff? Well it all comes down to street credibility.
After a number of months, we slowly introduced Jeff to the outside world. We were conscious of the ribbing the other cats would give him â€˜out on the street’ for having a girls name plus it just didn’t seem right calling a boy cat Jess so we decided to go for a name that phonetically sounded similar enough for Jeff to recognise.
From that day onwards, Jess became Jeff and has appeared quite proud and a damn sight happier with his new name ever since.
Anyway, back to Byford.
When we saw Jeff he had a kind of stoned, shell shocked look on his face. Basically the poor lad was knackard. Still he appeared to recognise us and wondered over promptly for a stroke.
Then from above us we heard a high pitched Meeeeoooow! About 2 – 3 foot above my head (and I’m over 6 foot tall) was perched Charlie who stretched and wondered down the zig zag shaped platform to the ground.
Charlie (who has been with us since we got him as a kitten) also looked knackard but equally, was very pleased to see us. In the back of our minds we were concerned that after six weeks both cats would have forgotten us. It was pretty obvious though by the purring and pointy welcoming tails that this was not the case.
Both cats I’m pleased to say were in excellent condition. They had obviously been well looked after at Airpets and despite looking very tired the journey from the UK to Australia appears to have been a relatively straight forward exercise.
As we stroked both cats, it looked like the warm weather was taking its toll already as clumps of fur were released at every stroke.
Both cats were in fur shedding overdrive and I can understand why. Although both cats are typically described as domestic shorthairs, they both tend to get a little fluffier as the colder English months progress and this extra fluff had suddenly become an unwanted burden in these sunnier and warmer climbs. The poor lads couldn’t get rid of the stuff fast enough.
As for the accommodation, it was excellent.
The official dimensions are 1.2 M Wide by 1.8 M Long by 2.3 M high and this seemed roomy enough even with two cats, two adults and a four year old child crammed inside.
The best thing is the height. A small walkway zigzags up on either side of the pen leading up onto a platform with a view over the roof of the cattery.
I’d image all cats would love this as it enables them to climb and chill out on a platform which is high enough to enable them to feel comfortable, safe and relaxed.
Goodness knows how many treats Byford go through to encourage the less cooperative cats to come down from such a great height but I think it’s a great feature for any cattery.
The ventilation is great to with the front of the pen comprising of a large amount of wire mesh allowing plenty of air to circulate. During the winter months the sleeping boxes can be heated apparently although they certainly didn’t need it right now.
In the main part of the pen were two large shelves, each housing a plastic box containing bedding for the cats to sleep in.
We were delighted. Of course any kennel or cattery could always be bigger but for a 30 day stop over it will be more then sufficient for our two cats.
All of the pens we saw were clean; the staff were friendly and appeared to know all of the cats by name.
Charlie and Jeff will remain at Byford until the 8th of February, at which point we can make the final two hour round trip to bring them home.
I just hope we’ve managed to secure a rental property which allows cats by then.
Additional Resources which may be of interest: Official documentation