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Meet Kristen Westhoven of The Cat’s Cradle in Deerfield

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Westhoven.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kristen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We used to board our first cat Micetro here at The Cat’s Cradle with Judy Clark, who started the business in 1992. After 7 years, her husband had grown allergic to the cats, so Judy asked if I would like to buy the business. We sold our house, I quit my job as a custom color printer and we moved in April of 1999. It was the first cat-only boarding facility in the area with a well-established customer base.

I didn’t need to change a thing since Judy thought of everything a cat would want and need. It is a “featherbed inn for cats” in a comfortable country setting. Since then, business has increased even more. From May through September of this year, we’ve had a 20-person-long waiting list for cancellations.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There was a learning curve at first. Since I had only known one cat, my own, I needed to learn about cats in general, and learn how to take care of a wide range of them. They are as different from each other as people. The most difficult lesson was how to manage an upper respiratory illness outbreak. Cats pass it through the air and catch it very easily. The only way to contain it is to quarantine the sick away from the others, air out the building well and disinfect every surface in the facility. If the sick cat isn’t quarantined fast enough, it will spread to other guests like wildfire. Sometimes cats sneeze just from dander or from an allergy, so a quick decision is sometimes difficult to make.

The Cat’s Cradle – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I board cats while their owners are away. It is not a shelter or a place to adopt cats. The cats all have homes already, and are usually the very pampered variety. The owners think of their cats as their children and want only the best for them. Unlike most kennels which also have dogs staying nearby, this is a cat-only facility. It is attached to my home, so there is round-the-clock care. The cats have their own individual large rooms to stay in. Most rooms are about 7 ft tall by 4 ft wide, with three shelves and screened doors. These rooms also fit 2 cats from one family comfortably as well, so they often share. In addition, there is a penthouse suite up in the loft which is the entire width of the building. This is reserved for families of 3 or more cats, and is reserved first come first serve. After a cat has settled into their new surroundings, they are let out into the common area for playtime every day.

Usually, they decide they would prefer to be without any other guests to play with, but on occasion, some do like to make new friends. I supervise if they mix together. My own cat Bixby (the CEO) loves making new friends. The property is very close to Pawtuckaway State Park, with beautiful views of meadows and farms surrounding The Cat’s Cradle. There are birdfeeders at each window. There are also ground-level views at the slider doors, so the guests have fun watching “kitty TV” featuring wild turkeys, chipmunks, squirrels in addition to the birds. There is a sisal-wrapped floor-to-ceiling scratching post the guests can also climb up. There a few cat carpeted cat trees to climb and sleep on. There are also cradle baskets to nap in. There are rafters which the cats can access via shelves. Also, a wide variety of cat toys are available to play with. I feed each cat their usual food that they eat at home. I also give them plenty of TLC and interaction.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success when my human customers tell me that they are happy with the care that their cat has received.

Pricing:

  • 1 cat boarding = $17 per day
  • 2 cats boarding (sharing a room) = $26 per day
  • 3 cats boarding (sharing a room) = $37 per day
  • 4 cats boarding (sharing a room) = $48 per day
  • 5 cats boarding (sharing a room) = $60 per day

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Kristen Westhoven

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