It is a huge responsibility owners place on our shoulders when they leave their cat in our care for a period of time for whatever the reason.
We take our responsibility seriously. We endeavor to give each cat the same love, care and attention they would otherwise be receiving at home. Every day we feed, clean, groom, play and talk to them as if they were our own.
Inevitably it is only normal that we would become quite attached to these cats, especially our repeat feline guests that we have come to know quite well.
But just how attached do we become to our charges?
This became rather obvious a few weeks back, when for the first time since owning the cattery, I had to make the agonising decision to have a cat euthanized while the owners were overseas. This particular cat had stayed with us a number of times. We were devastated but knew it was the right decision.
My vet nurse was in tears before the cat had even left the cattery. I drove slowly to the Vet, making small talk to the cat as if nothing was wrong. “I am going to be strong” I thought. After all this isn’t my cat and we are doing what is best.
My tough stance lasted until the needle went in, then sadness overcame me and the tears flowed. The Vet kindly handed me a box of tissues. I felt stupid; it wasn’t my cat. I had made the choice to stay with this wee girl until the very end as she had nobody and I wanted her to have a familiar face by her side but the episode left me visibly upset.
Thinking about it later, I realised that even though the cats that board at our cattery do not belong to us, they very much become a part of us and we in turn feel privileged to have been a part of their lives.
I have been told by my sometimes “not so silent partner”, that I will never make any money running this cattery as I make decisions from the heart and not from a business head.
A good friend, who has been in business for over 20 years, also told me “never spend money in areas where you will get no return”. Good advice I’m sure, however does return always have to be monetary?
An example being; Not long after we purchased the cattery, I spent a considerable amount of money putting new shelving into six outdoor north facing units, just so the cats could have a wider, sunnier more comfortable spot for their cat baskets and bedding. Having done this, we cannot charge more for the units just because the shelving was replaced.
Nevertheless, as I watch the cats lazing happily on these shelves each day, soaking up the sun and contently watching the day’s proceedings, I feel enormous satisfaction in knowing that I have made their stay with us even more enjoyable. To see the cats so happy is worth every penny spent.
There is my “return”.
Our clients notice the relaxed and happy atmosphere as well. This is reflected in the comments they make when viewing the cattery for the first time. It is reflected in the bookings and our ever growing list of new clientele. This is also my “return”.
A new client recently booked his cats into our cattery after noting that I had worked voluntarily for various animal organisations overseas, because and I quote; “He could tell I was a compassionate person”.
To operate any business or organisation involving animals, I believe there must be a certain amount of compassion. On the other hand, the business side must show a return. The trick is to find the right balance. For me it is a learning curve but I think I am getting there.