With so many dog hotels, I would really like to see more cat hotels too. They are increasing in popularity, but still rare. And most cat boarding services do not provide the same luxuries as dog hotels do.
While cats are more independent than dogs, and can more easily take care of themselves, most people do not realize that they require just as much attention. Without proper attention, cats become anxious, depressed, and stressed out. While they may survive a few nights at home on their own with a big bowl of dry food, it’s truly not ideal. Most cat parents, like myself, cannot enjoy themselves on vacation without the peace of mind that their furry babies are doing well.
This is what my ideal “cat hotel” would look like…
(Photos are taken from other sources and used for imagination purposes. Click photo for credit source.)
First off, like dog hotels, there would be a requirement of paperwork — legal agreements, vaccines up to date, medical history, etc. What I would also add would be a “social” section — how your cat gets along with other cats/pets, if your cat has ever been in a fight, and so on — in order to figure out how to keep your cat properly socialized according to their needs.
For the standard cat visit, there would be one big room with single and double “dorms” — fenced in areas where each cat sleeps, with the option to hold one or two cats (if you are bringing two cats for example.) The cats would all be in the same room so they could see and hear each other, but safely separate behind bars in order to establish boundaries.
Master suite upgrade — for a higher price, instead of staying in the common dorm area, you can have your cat(s) upgraded to an enclosed area that is essentially a small bedroom. This is mainly recommended for a) multiple cats staying together or b) a very socially anxious cat who requires being alone. With more space, and an environment that more closely resembles your own bedroom, this is a great bonus. And rest assured, although your cat(s) will be separated from others during sleep time, there will still be plenty of chances to socialize.
There are two sizes for master suites — small (similar to dorm, but bigger) or large (similar to a real bedroom.)
Whether staying in a dorm or suite, this is where your cat will spend the night safely resting in his or her own territory. This is also where cats will spend the first hour upon arrival in order to adjust to a new environment. All dorms/suites include comfy bed, perch, toys, litter box, water, and a small dish of dry food. (Security cameras installed to assure your cat’s safety.)
However, it is important that the cats spend most of their waking time being socialized, stimulated, watched, and cared for.
Mornings begin with one-on-one time. Staff comes in, focusing on one cat (or multiple cats, if you are bringing in more than one) at a time. A staff member will open the dorm gate (or suite door) and gently allow the cat to come out on its own, guiding the cat down the hallway and into the small playroom. It is typically easy to guide a cat into a new area without a leash or physical force. However, the staff may have to try to pick up and carry the cat. In extreme cases, the staff will place the cat into a cat carrier and then take it into the small playroom.
For one-on-one time, the staff can better get to know the cats, while the cats receive necessary attention without overstimulation. If it’s a new visitor, staff will take notes on cat’s stress levels and social capabilities. A cat that spends the entire one-on-one time hiding in a corner will be marked as “socially anxious” and not fit for playing with other cats (and will receive additional one-on-ones instead.) A cat that is very social and affectionate will be seen as fit for integration with others. Depending on what the cat prefers, this time can either be spent getting cuddled and brushed, or jumping around with teaser toys. TV or music will be playing in the background.
Social play — by noontime, it’s time for more socializing. In the medium sized playrooms, there may be around 3-4 cats. In the large sized playroom, there could be more than 10! This is similar to one-on-ones, except on a larger scale — where more staff is involved and all of the cats are free to interact with one another. Cats will be carefully monitored — any sign of major stress or aggression, and a cat is moved into a smaller room, and if necessary, strictly one-on-ones. There is an avoidance of too many one-on-one’s because with so many cats, there is not enough staff/time.
Along with playrooms, there are also outdoor areas. Beforehand, an owner can choose if they are comfortable or not with their cat being outside. Of course the outdoor area is completely gated. It is also much larger and spacious than the playrooms, making it ideal for the more socially anxious cats.
And then comes dinnertime! By this point, even if it’s your cat’s first day (all arrivals happen in the morning), staff should have a strong idea about how your cat behaves with others. For the socially anxious cats, they will be taken to their dorm/suite for wet food. But for everyone else, we like to feed them in the “kitchen area” in order to promote bonding. Of course each cat gets their own plate. But when cats eat together, they are more likely to bond with one another.
The day ends with cats returning to their dorms or suites. By then, your cat will surely be fast asleep until it’s already morning once again, and they’re ready for more.
You may wonder why we stress so much socializing with cats, why bother? This is because cats really do miss their owners when they are away. It may surprise many to know that cats are social creatures, just like humans and dogs. However, they are much more sensitive and hesitant, which is why extra precaution is taken. But really, a non-socially anxious cat, after some time of warming up, can feel much more excitement and entertainment with fellow cats, just as dogs do.
BONUS Craft Time! For an extra fee, you can sign up your cats for crafting! These are typically seasonal or holiday related, and usually involve paw prints, or paw painting, etc. BONUS Photo Time! While many pictures and videos are taken during the stay, for an additional fee you can request a set of 25, 50, or 100+ photos.
Your cat(s) will NOT go home empty-handed! Following pickup, cats bring home many photos (and videos posted online), report cards detailing their behavior during their stay, and optional craft.
Hall of Fame! It is encouraged that you make a habit of keeping the same cat hotel, because cats are creatures of habit who requires familiarity within their environment. And so, cats who visit three times or more will get their photo and name displayed on the Cat Hall of Fame, along with a small medal to bring home! If your cat visits 10 or more times, the name/photo will be doubled the size, and your cat will receive a special trophy to bring home!
With excess stimulation, a surplus of free roaming, and 24/7 care, your cat is sure to come home satisfied and incredibly exhausted. Now that you’re tired from a long vacation and ready to unpack your bags and lay on the couch for the rest of the evening — instead of dealing with nonstop meowing and begging for attention, you’ll be cuddled up cozy with one another!