By Deborah Hansen
Why, yes! Why not offer cat daycare? Sometimes families need a safe place for their kitty to spend the day when they are having work done in the house, there is a family celebration, a cat needs medication and no one will be home to administer it, or the family simply wants peace of mind that their cat will be cared for when they go out of town for the day. Cat daycare can be a huge help to many feline owners.
However, kitty daycare will not look like traditional doggie daycare. Kitty daycare will keep family units together without introducing cats from other families. Ideally, kitty daycare would be run in boarding suites with multiple levels, toys, and interesting things to explore and examine. It is important to have an enriching and fun environment to attract clients and keep the cat’s mind actively engaged during the day.
Most cats graze during the day. Kitty daycare will need to have a meal served or free-feeding available for the felines. A cat drinking fountain in the daycare suites would not only provide water and add ambience, but would be a great marketing tool. Fresh litter boxes will also be needed in the daycare suites. Human interaction in the form of petting, interactive playtime or just sitting with the cat is a great perk to the standard kitty daycare package.
When a cat arrives for daycare, getting them comfortable in their enclosure as quickly as possible is important. Placing their carrier on the floor of the daycare suite, opening the carrier door and then carefully letting yourself out of the suite is the best strategy to help the feline acclimate to their new environment. This procedure will allow the cat to exit the carrier when they are comfortable. After the cat exits the carrier, you can leave the carrier in the suite if they need the reassurance of home, or you can remove the carrier after they have settled in.
At check-out, you can scoop the kitty up and place them in the carrier or offer to let the owners get the kitty. If a cat is being uncooperative, there is no shame in asking the owners to get the cat themselves. Your staff’s safety is far more important than presenting a stressed cat back to the owners in the carrier.
Multiple levels and interesting hidey holes in the feline enclosures encourage and stimulate felines. When choosing the best ways to create different levels to explore and hiding places for the cats, make sure you have your sanitation plan established. Hard surfaces with soft items that can be laundered tend to be the easiest items to sanitize between guests. Adding things that roll, crinkle and move will engage the cat’s hunting instincts during playtime.
Enhance the daycare experience by having the kitty area where they can see out a window or have natural sunlight. What cat doesn’t love watching for birds and leaves blowing in the wind and then taking a cat nap in a sun puddle? If a window is not available, a TV with birds, wildlife near a stream or other calming nature scenes would enhance the daycare experience. Another option is to have nature sounds playing to keep the feline’s mind engaged.
Advertising will be key when you launch your kitty daycare. In your marketing, you will need to both announce and explain your new service. Sending out notifications to previous clients is a quick way to reach your target audience. A social media campaign to explain kitty daycare will help potential clients understand the service. Posting flyers at pet stores, veterinarian offices and other local establishments can also be helpful in attracting new clients.
There are several upgrades you can offer with kitty daycare. A nail trim is a great add-on that is appreciated by owners and will keep your staff safe. Keeping nails at the appropriate length prevents humans from getting scratched while making sure nail overgrowth does not lead to medical problems for the feline. Brushouts are another great add-on. Getting dead coat off the kitty is always a win for the family. A special toy or treat the kitty can take home at the end of the day might be something that also works for your boarding business.
Another option you can offer clients is rolling a daycare session over into overnight boarding. This is especially comforting to families that are going out of town for the day. If something comes up and the family does not make it back to pick up kitty before closing, the cat will be served dinner and have a sleepover. The only additional work for your facility will be serving dinner and breakfast plus an additional litter box cleaning. Kitty will never know this was not the original plan.
Feline daycare is not something most people think of, but it can be very helpful for cat families. Multiple times throughout the year, families have activities in their homes that may not be safe for the feline family member. Other times the family may need to leave town for the day and are anxious about leaving kitty home alone or getting their medication administered on time. Kitty daycare will fill boarding suites that are not being used and may bring you even more income through add-ons. For very little extra work, kitty daycare is a great way to increase your bottom line and grow your clientele.