Cats live the good life in this boarding facility.

Morris Animal Inn may have opened as a dog boarding facility in 1960, but cats have been welcome, too, since the early ’80s. In fact, few businesses of its kind offer the same level of accommodations and amenities for felines. Walter and Marianne Morris, and now their daughter Joanne, have helped set the standard for cat boarding in the U.S at their Morristown, NJ business.

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Some suites even have TVs for cats to watch.

THE IDEA 

Treat Cats Like Dogs

Dogs traditionally have been offered more individual space and services than cats have at boarding facilities. The Morris family and their staff at the inn decided to change that.

“We wanted to make cat boarding as comfortable and enriching as dog boarding,” says Kristen Hedderich, director of pet care operations. For the past 10 years, building expansions and brainstorming have allowed them to do exactly that.

THE EXECUTION

Upgrade and Impress

Instead of simply installing larger kennels for feline guests, the inn’s owners opted to build areas that could be divided into rooms of different sizes, depending on need. Single kitties can stay in a two-level Condo. Two siblings can share a four-level Deluxe Condo. And up to five cats from the same family can spread out in a Luxury Suite. Adjustable walls allow staff to configure space for up to 50 guests at a time.

All of the accommodations feature individual air purification systems, plus kitty-sized furniture and rustic décor that reflects the facility’s wooded location. Windows, fish-filled aquariums and flat-screen TVs are among the various view options.

“The TVs play nature videos,” Hedderich says. “Squirrels, chipmunks, birds.”

Morris Animal Inn has built a list of luxury activities and services, as well. As part of a package or a la carte, cats can visit the Kitty Playroom to climb and scratch on posts, take a spin on the exercise wheel, and/or play with one of the Cat Pamperers on staff. To advertise all of the above, staff maintain a strong online presence for the inn, including on social media, but also provide printed brochures to local animal shelters and veterinary offices. 

“Vets, in particular, are quick to recommend our services,” Hedderich says. “We set ourselves apart based on our quality of care, and by providing safety and security.” 

THE RESULTS

Boost in Sales

Cat care makes up about 15 percent of Morris Animal Inn’s business, with Hedderich pointing out strong growth from 2015 to 2016, after additional services —  the exercise wheel sessions, video gaming, art projects and birthday parties — were introduced.

“These extras have allowed us to double our sales of kitty specialties. The new luxury services brought more attention to our cat services, in general, and have enhanced the number of extras being purchased with each incoming reservation.”


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2017 edition of PETS+.