Cat hotels growing increasingly popular

February 14, 2012 5:23:29 PM PST
Kennels are so passé. Fancy cat hotels, special cat-only facilities perfect for finicky felines, are opening all over the Bay Area.

The cat boarding facilities 7 On Your Side visited are the pet equivalent of boutique hotels. There is top-notch service plus a lot more. When Mill Valley resident Sara Haynes boarded her cats at a facility last year, she was shocked when she went to pick them up and found one was really upset and in attack mode.

It was after that experience that she decided to open a facility where she would want to leave her own cats. She modeled her "Kitty Charm School" after the top cat hotels around the world. "Our theory is real rooms, loads of love. So, loads of love, obviously a huge one. I think it's the biggest one. They feel safe. We have Kitty Worshippers, we have full-time staff that play with cats, and I think that makes all the difference," she says.

She says the difference is obvious. "Kitty Worshippers" are kids that come after school and during the weekends to entertain the cats. When the cats leave their rooms, they can romp in big play areas with regular-sized human beds or snuggle down in an array of doll beds. The cats can exercise on a wheel.

Carole Misseldine loves these little amenities. She can travel with ease knowing her cat "Zach" is happy. "They send me videos in my email. I love that. Whenever I'm away, I always look for my KCS, my Kitty Charm emails," she says.

Another high-end facility is "Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams" located in San Francisco. Both it and Kitty Charm School use 8-feet tall spaces to house their cats. Lisa Redding owns Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams. "In a cat's world, if it can't be a horizontal world, it could be a vertical world and being up at 8 feet, that's the perfect situation for a cat," Redding says. "So, they can really look down on us."

Veterinarian Aaron Wentzell says cleanliness is a critical factor when choosing a boarding facility. He believes each cat is very different and their needs vary too. "Some cats are more social and might benefit from a larger area where they can interact with people," he says. "But other cats want to hide. They need a small space and they don't want to see strangers."

It is pricey to board your cat, but these are not necessarily higher than other places. Rooms at Kitty Charm School run between $22 and $45 per night. At Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams, boarding starts at $30 and goes as high as $50.

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