If you are so minded and if you really want the ultimate reassurances that your cat is being treated and cared for in a way that you can’t even manage yourself, you can forget about boarding catteries and instead select a five-star pet hotel which has four-poster beds, full body massages and a room with a view.
In Great Britain, demand for five-star hotels for pampered pets is on the increase; in one instance a cat owner plans her own holidays around the availability of a room at her favourite pet hotel.
One such hotel is Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, UK (“the world’s first truly 5 star cattery”) – about 30-40 miles north of London. This sort of hotel offers underfloor heating and large television screens presenting swimming fish. There are indoor gyms and spa treatments. There are body massages with aromatic oils combined with soothing music. Pets have the option of a candlelit meal in the evening served on bone china! In the pet’s room there is a mini bar with their favourite treats and drinks.
One customer, Paula Perrin, swears by her favourite five-star luxury pet hotel. She said:
“It’s become so important to me to know my cats are happy and safe I book the holidays around theirs…”
Customers pay £23 a day for a basic room. Larger suites cost 3 pounds extra. Longcroft offers the “ultimate spa day” at a cost of £45 which includes a gentle undercoat removal, waterless coat massage, coat and skin shampooing, paw massage and eye and ear cleansing.
In addition, clients are sent a photograph of their pet being fed or sleeping to reassure them that their cat or dog is happy and well. The pet gets the food that he likes and wants and apparently one cat likes to be hand fed avocado! To be honest I am sure this happens at home too.
Is this indicative of the gradual rise of the humanisation of domestic animals? Anthropomorphising cats is understandable but is it a good thing for the cat? It can have unforeseen consequences. One of them I would argue is the declawing of cats and I don’t want to go over that ground again too much but a cat’s claws are a reminder that the cat is a predator and a domesticated wild animal. This does not sit very comfortably with some people’s attitude towards their cat particularly so if the person regards their cat as a person.
In addition, people can end up overfeeding their cat with human food treats which can be unhealthy: overly pampered pets can become obese and they do require a balanced cat diet as we know. These are just some examples of what could be argued to be the negative consequences of anthropomorphising your cat companion.
I would suggest that there is a gradual drift towards humanising pets. There is a gradual increase in spending on pets in Britain which has soared to £4.6 billion a year. This gradual rise in expenditure on animal companions might be due to the increased humanization of pets. In 2011 a PetPlan survey found that 25% of owners had bought clothing for their pet, which is a good example of anthropomorphising your pet while 10% of pet owners had attended a pet party with a further 10% having created a Facebook page for their pet.
At Christmas, the owner of the Ings Luxury Cat Hotel in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, UK, will be offering salmon canapés followed by a selection including sirloin steak, turkey, cod fillets and duck and salmon. This is, no doubt, highly appealing to some cat owners. Let’s not forget that all marketing is directed at the owner rather than the animal himself, which is a problem because the marketing is humanized to appeal to humans thereby encouraging the cat owner to follow suit.
It is about keeping a balance. We all humanize our cat but as long as we keep a sense of proportion and understand cat behaviour and dietary demands all should be well.