Save a Life, Board a Cat
By Deborah Hansen
Bubba was a well-loved, nine-year-old purebred Himalayan. His owners spent a lot of money to purchase him as a kitten. The owners knew that both the groomer and veterinarian they used offered feline boarding. They also knew there were other feline boarding facilities and cat sitters in their local area.
Over the years, they had taken many weekend and weeklong trips. Bubba was always glad to see them when they returned, yet never had a problem with a neighbor putting down food and fresh water every three to four days. His humans were very excited that they had finally saved up for their dream vacation—a three-week cruise. And since past experience had shown them that the neighbors could sufficiently care for their kitty, this what they had planned do for this trip as well.
We will never know what happened to Bubba, but I expect not having his family for three weeks led to a depression. Bubba stopped eating, and by the time his owners returned, his organs had begun shutting down. Shortly after the family had returned from their dream vacation, Bubba had passed.
The truth is, many cats die prematurely when left alone while their owners are out of town.
So, how can boarding facilities not only save the lives of felines, but also increase our bottom line?
Many cat owners do not understand why it is important to use a boarding facility or cat sitter when they go out of town. When you take steps to educate the general public, not only do you increase your bottom line, but also save the lives of felines in your local area.
Overcoming the public’s conviction that cats are self-sufficient and can take care of themselves when their owners are out of town is a hard belief to change. Focusing your marketing on the importance of feline boarding is the best way to help these owners understand the importance of your services. Many owners do not see the value in your services because they do not understand the needs of their felines. When you can lure this type of client into feline boarding, you can convert them into regular clients.
Not sure what to focus on to draw these clients into your feline boarding establishment without using scare tactics?
I like to start with the basic needs of the feline then move to how tragedies can be prevented. I address a cat’s need for fresh water, monitored food intake, fresh litter box and human interactions, and then move to how prompt emergency medical attention can be offered when needed by the boarding facility. These are all important for a healthy cat that a drop-in caretaker on a random schedule cannot provide.
Fresh water not only keeps every mammal healthy, but also keeps their body functioning properly. Many cats will not drink if their water is not fresh. Without having someone in the home environment daily, owners run the possibility of the cat refusing to drink. If no one is aware of the feline’s lack of water intake, the possibility of medical complications multiplies within a short period of time.
When a cat stops eating, their organs quickly begin shutting down. A boarding facility can provide daily observations of the cat’s eating behavior. Early detection of when a cat stops eating can often prevent the possibility of simple medical concerns becoming complex.
Litter box behavior is another indicator of feline health. When daily monitoring of the litter box behavior is not available, often medical issues can go undetected. Things as simple as not using the litter box, urinating in an inappropriate place, not urinating at all or crying when urinating go unnoticed when cats are left alone for days at a time. When the cat is observed daily, these issues would most likely become immediate red flags for the care provider to seek medical attention.
Without daily human interactions many cats become depressed. House cats often become accustomed to sleeping with the family, having random pets throughout the day and having people to observe, chase or interact with. Many cats do not know how to handle themselves when left alone in a home. Without the family home, behavioral changes that could be immediately addressed go unnoticed, leading to bigger issues.
Other signs a cat is in distress, such as limping, visible blood, wheezing, vomiting or diarrhea also go unnoticed when the feline is left alone in a home. When the family returns from their trip, what began as an easy medical problem to fix has become a much more complex issue.
Focusing on a cat’s need for fresh water, monitored food intake, fresh litter box, human interactions and prompt emergency medical attention are key when trying to educate cat owners on the importance of using a boarding facility. A marketing campaign that focuses on random cat care facts can be a fun and entertaining way to capture cat owners’ attention and get them to think about the basic needs of their feline family members.
Helping people understand the importance of feline boarding may feel like an exhausting objective, yet it truly does save lives. An education-based campaign that helps feline owners understand that boarding not only improves the quality of life, but also prevents bigger issues from going unnoticed goes a long way in converting their belief that cats are self-sufficient.
While reaching this group of clients can be challenging, the benefits are priceless.