I was told that it takes dedication to keep a blog going. Rather like a diary, which I was never ever good at, so no real surprise that it is a year since the last entry.
The first sentence last year could easily apply to this year – there is a definite pattern in cattery occupation. Easter to the end of October (the winter half term week) is always full to capacity, and generally booked months in advance. November is an odd month, sometimes busy sometimes not. Christmas is always full (right now I have half the pens reserved for the Christmas 2016 break) and I can guarantee someone will ring on December 21st or 22nd and ask if they can bring their cat(s) in as they have just decided to go away. After New Year all the cats go back home and in late January there might be only two or three cats in.
After nearly twelve years there are a core group of regulars who book up well in advance, many securing the cat’s place before they start looking for their own.
There is also a pattern to cat ownership. Bearing in mind that this is an affluent area (someone told me there was at least one millionaire per mile of lane locally), my customers seem to fall into distinct groups. We have young couples just setting up house together who have cats before they have children. We have couples with young children who use the cattery up to when the children decide to stay at home and cat sit. Then we have older couples who still have the cats but whose children have moved away and got cats of their own. These older ones keep coming until the last cat is laid to rest,then they have a few carefree and cat free years holidaying on a whim, before all the joy of waiting in airports and hold ups on the motorways become too much, they decide to stay at home and get a new cat.
The one thing they all have in common is that they love their cats and do not worry about them while they are on holiday. No pressure on me then!
Cattery has been busy since Easter and absolutely full since mid May. But today has been the busiest day so far this year. 8 ‘cat moves’ 4 lots in and 4 lots out. So that’s 4 pens to clear, disinfect, clean and prepare for new cats, on top of the daily clean of 19 pens, meals, medicines, and grooming. There’s a massive pile of laundry and the washing machine has been going all day.
Kittens can turn anything into a plaything
So what kinds of cat guests do we have tonight? The youngest are a pair of 4 month kittens (they need 4 meals a day and a lot of playing!). The oldest is a 19 year old tabby who is still remarkably active. There are 7 ginger/ ginger and white cats in, 8 if you include a rather fetching apricot coloured one. Mogs outnumber pedigrees 1:6, which is about average.
Supper is over. The sun’s setting and most of the cats are now resting after a hard day watching, sleeping and eating. The kittens are still playing, I can hear the toys being batted about but otherwise it’s very quiet just evening birdsong.
After the quietest opening of a year I can remember in the nine years that I’ve been running this cattery, suddenly everyone wants to go away this week. I’ve been turning people away for about a month now, and arranging stupidly tight turnarounds to avoid disappointing regulars. Peak numbers this week will be 35 cats, beating a previous all time best of 34 one night last summer. Here’s what part of tonight’s dinner preparations for 19 looks like.
All diets catered for!
Most people see catteries when they take their cats to be imprisoned for two weeks while the family head for the beach – and a good cattery is always heaving in summer. I could book out half as many pens again some years. It’s very different in February. This year has been particularly quiet – even the half term week was quiet. Spare a thought for the poor cattery owner – rushed off their feet in summer, no chance to go out for the day without major forward planning, under pressure to get a pen cleared cleaned and ready for the next inmate in a stupidly short time; but scrimping and saving through the winter months when there might only be a handful of cats to bring in a very basic income. My smile becomes fixed when I hear that phrase “It’s always been a dream of mine to run a cattery.” Dreams can be nightmares remember, and dreams don’t pay the bills.
Are black cats lucky or unlucky?