Last Updated on: December 20, 2012 by Ingrid King
For many cat guardians, the thought of having to travel causes more stress than joyful anticipation, because it means leaving their cats behind. For most cats, a cat sitter may be the best solution. Cats are creatures of habit, and they tend to prefer to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own homes. But what do you do when this is not an option – whether it’s because you can’t find a sitter you trust completely, or perhaps your cat has medical needs your sitter can’t accommodate?
Traditionally, boarding your cat at either a veterinary clinic or a boarding facility has been your only other option. Teri Thorsteinson, the owner and operator of Furry Dance B & B for Cats in Virginia, offers another option for cat guardians. Furry Dance B & B provides a home-like experience for cats: guest rooms offer all the comforts of home with a cozy bed, window perches, soothing music and lots of TLC.
When I first saw pictures of Furry dance B & B for Cats, I wanted to book a room for myself, it looked that inviting. I also wanted to learn more about this inn for cats, and was delighted when Teri agreed to answer a few questions.
What made you decide to open a B&B for cats?
I have a spacious home that I share with my four cats, and have been cat sitting friends’ cats in my home from time to time. There are two guest rooms that visiting cats can be comfortable in; and they won’t have to interact with or be exposed to my cats.
My experience and knowledge gained in a life-long career as a veterinary technician provided additional peace of mind for the friends who entrusted their cats into my care. After hearing over and over again how valuable they considered this service, I realized that with my background, I could offer something that is not commonly found in your typical boarding kennel.
Tell us a little about your background with cats?
I actually didn’t grow up with cats, as my parents were dog lovers, but I was always animal-oriented and my second job out of high school was working for the veterinarian that took care of our horses and dogs. I didn’t get my first cat until I was in my early 20’s when a mother cat with mastitis was brought into the hospital where I worked. Since the mother couldn’t nurse the kittens, another staff member and I volunteered to foster them. The little bottle fed kitten that I raised started my life-long infatuation with the feline species. When I moved to Virginia in 2001 and began working at The Cat Hospital of Fairfax, I knew I had found my ‘niche’ in the field that has been a part of my life since 1972.
I also bred and showed Cornish Rex cats for 22 years. I enjoyed sharing this unique breed of cats. My experience and knowledge gained in the veterinary field helped make me a conscientious and ethical breeder.
How many cats can you accommodate?
The Country Suite is the largest room, with two sunny windows and a full sized bed. The Library is smaller, with one window, a rocking chair, heated cat bed and a two level hammock that offers a view of the outdoors. Not all cats that live together are always the best of friends, so it really depends on how many cats from the same family can share a room. The Country Suite could easily accommodate three cats, The Library two. Both guest rooms have views that offer lots of entertainment for the cats: birds, squirrels and wildlife galore.
Can you care for cats with medical needs, such as diabetics, cats who need multiple medications a day?
Oh yes, and that is an important facet of the services Furry Dance B & B offers. I am able to administer SQ fluids, insulin as well as oral or topical medications. One of our guests was a cat recuperating from major oral surgery. I am currently caring for a kitty that became “cage brave” in the typical boarding kennel cage. He likes attention on his own terms, and is prone to swatting first and asking questions later! But he and I get along as I can read his body language and respect his desire for small talk, but not much petting.
How many cats of your own do you have? How do they feel about your boarders?
I currently share my home with 4 cats. They’re all used to having boarders in the guest rooms. My cats take changes in their routine in stride and are at ease in surroundings that many cats would find stressful. I’ve taken them to cat shows, fund raisers, and pet blogging conferences. In order to ensure the health of both our guests and my own cats, the cats that stay with us are never exposed to my cats. When a room is reserved, it is off limits to my cats after it has been prepared for the next guest. Rooms, bedding, dishes and litter boxes are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guests.
I ask for the medical records for our guests and I am more than happy to provide them for my cats if a cat’s guardian should request that information from me. I also ask that our guests are current on core vaccines, have a negative fecal test and are treated for external parasites before they stay with us.
What is your favorite part about running a B&B for cats?
I enjoy getting to know each cat’s personality, what makes it happy (or angry) and what brings it to life, whether it’s a cat treat, being brushed or chasing a laser light round the room. I love sending updates and photos to our guests’ guardians of their cats’ daily activities. I even make up photo CD’s of their stay with us, which their families appreciate.
Where can people find out more about you?
I am working on having a website designed, but for now people can find us on Facebook or at our Curlz and Swirlz blog.
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.