Whether it’s a vacation, or renovating your house, do you think “Should I be boarding my cat?” Most people don’t think about having options for their cat. Increasingly, pet service businesses are recognizing the need for boarding cats: hotels for cats.
luxury cat bed by Cedel Pets and Style
According to Stanley Coren’s May 2013 article in Psychology Today, Americans have 86 million cats and 78 million dogs. 33% of households have cats! whereas 39% have dogs (because 52% of households have more than one cat! but only 40% have more than one dog). Meanwhile, only 11% of people bring their cats on a vacation with them. Whereas 34% of families bring their dogs with them on vacation. Ok, so why do most pet services not offer boarding for cats?
Virginia Donohue, owner of Pet Camp, a day care and boarding business in San Francisco,says “With cats it’s difficult to have as much volume as with dogs,” Donohue said. “Cats are just more challenging economically.”
In 2014, Americans were projected to spend an estimated $4.73 billion on pet grooming and boarding services, according to the APPA (American Pet Products Association) pet owners survey. Just 5 percent of cat owners opt for kennel boarding or cat hotels, but average spending on services — $337 a year for cats — is double what it was at the time of the 2011-12 survey.
Meg and Chris Raimo, owners of Happy Cat Hotel, in Kitty Kabana suite
By LORETTA WALDMAN
In a January 2015 article in the Hartford Courant:
A Windsor, Connecticut couple, Chris and Meg Raimo, who also run an in-home pet care business, Home Sweet Home Pet Care, saw an opportunity.
In the latest APPA survey, 85 percent of cat owners cited love and companionship among their reasons for having a cat. Fifty-seven percent likened their cats to a child.
– yeah, we know that (My Kitty Care sure does) –
Chris said “Cat owners want the same services as their canine counterparts and are every bit as doting.” Chris said he found only two other cats-only boarding facilities in Connecticut, both along the shore. A third is a feline veterinary practice that also has cat boarding.
“Doing what we do” Meg Raimo said, “We see people treat their cats the way the most passionate people treat their dogs, they’re just not as visible. You don’t see them in dog parks.”
Reiki therapy, massage and other services once reserved for humans are not uncommon at facilities for both dogs and cats.
Rates at the Raimos’s The Happy Cat Hotel, run from $30 to $45 a night depending on the size and amenities in the room. There are 12 rooms to choose from, with eight more planned. Sizes range from 250 to 500 cubic feet. The largest, The Happy Cat Lounge, features a fake bar and a toy piano.
The Stowaway room
By LORETTA WALDMAN
The smallest, The Stowaway, has portholes and an open suitcase for a bed. Unlike the crate-like kitty condos, all of the rooms have 8-foot ceilings. Amenities include a comfy bed; climbing trees, walls and bridges; room-to-room and exterior windows; and bushes for hiding. For a few extra dollars, customers can add 24-hour web cam access, pick-up and delivery service, and corn- or walnut-based natural cat litter. Daily email updates on cats are no extra charge.
Kitty guests at the Happy Cat Hotel stay in themed “destination” rooms that evoke famous cities, historical figures and vacation getaways. One, called Uncity Kitty, looks like a rustic western lodge, with a fake fireplace and an outhouse covering the litter box. Other rooms include Cleocatra, Paris for the Weekend, and urban themed Mancattan.
One customer, Mary Minto, said her sibling tabbies, Gus and Salsa, enjoyed three nights at Happy Cat Hotel so much, she had to lure them back into their crates with treats for the ride home. The two stayed in a seaside-themed luxury room, Kitty Kabana, and were lounging in a hammock suspended from the ceiling when she arrived to pick them up. “It’s a really great environment,” said Minto, a 32-year-old physician’s assistant and West Hartford resident. “They were happy. They actually didn’t want to come home. They were comfortable in there and hanging out. There were no issues.”
Chris and Meg Raimo said their business the Happy Cat Hotel has grown by about 20 percent a year since they opened it in 2007. They are in a leased 2200 square foot space, and currently have 20 full and part time employees. They serve about 180 families in Greater Hartford and the Farmington Valley.
The Happy Cat Hotel is close to I-91, so the couple had hoped to attract snow birds and vacationers on their way to and from Bradley International Airport, but instead, they said the range of customers has turned out to be much broader. “We have customers getting their carpets cleaned who bring a cat for a day,” said Meg, a former pet groomer. “We have people having Christmas parties looking for some place their cat can stay for the evening.”
The Happy Cat Hotel, Bonsai room,
By LORETTA WALDMAN
Without the hotel, Alex Zaid said he and his wife, Carly, would probably not have left town for the Thanksgiving weekend. Their 5-year-old cat, Taj, had just had surgery and needed monitoring. Jack, their other cat, freaked out to the point of getting ill the last time they boarded him, Zaid said. When they arrived to pick up the cats this time, “they were great,” said Zaid, an actuary who lives in Glastonbury. “Taj had finished his medications and was super affectionate,” he said. “Jack was fine too.” The cats stayed in the Happy Cat Lounge. Zaid called the fake piano and other features “pretty cool”, but it was the care, not the bling ,that impressed him most. “Chris plays with the cats and gets to know them,” he said. “That was the factor that made the difference for us.”
Capt. Kitt’s Luxury Cat Boarding in Clinton, Ct. another is owned and operated by Valentina DeCosta and her husband Timothy Siegler. They offer nightly shrimp and tuna “cocktails”, soothing classical music, and aroma therapy using organic lavender oil. The typical stay is about nine days, customers come from as far as New York City and Rhode Island, Valentina said, and have a multitude of reasons for boarding their cat. One cat stayed for six months, DeCosta said, while its owner was in Singapore for an extended stay.
Cats staying in the Winsor, Ct. Nautilus Quarters, a deluxe condo is $50 a night. The kitty guests enjoy a 10-gallon aquarium and the sounds of the nearby fountain. Others condos have views of bird feeders and caged parakeets, both of which are safely separated from cats behind glass.
“We have met and exceeded our projections,” Meg Raimo said. “We are beyond thrilled.”
By Loretta Waldman, Hartford Courant
Here is a list of some boarding options for your cat
– My Kitty Care is only making suggestions of places based on research, not actual endorsements, since we haven’t been able to personally visit and assess these facilities. This list is to help you if you’ve decided “I want to board my cat” Go to their websites, call the cat hotel and ASK questions. I would scrutinize boarding my cat as carefully as I gather information when I’m booking a hotel for my family.
Inside Meowhaus, cat hotel Portland, OR
portland, OR Meowhaus
Campbell, CA The Kitty Hotel
La Mesa, San Diego county, CA – Kitty Care Hotel
Ithica, New York – The Bed and Biscuit
East Islip, NY Catspa 631 277 3675
Shoreline, WA Purrfect Cat Boarding
Now you do have the option to say “I should be boarding my cat.”