All photos by Reem Saad
Nestled inside a private farm south of Al Khor is a luxe animal boarding facility whose profile has been growing in the past two years.
The Catari Cat Hotel, which opened in June 2014, offers temporary lodging to felines in “chalets,” complete with plush bedding, landscape views, grooming sessions and three-course meals.
Like at most hotels (for humans), this one has check-in and check-out times, refers to customers (cats) as guests and offers different rates for different rooms.
And like most facilities that cater to pets, it was started by a pair of animal lovers.
The cat hotel is owned and operated by mother and daughter duo Margaret and Asha Al Humaidi.
Speaking to Doha News this week, both women said the idea of starting the business stemmed from their fondness of animals.
“I’ve always enjoyed caring for animals,” said Asha Al Humaidi. “I’ve done a lot of house sitting and bringing pets to my house to look after for my friends when they traveled.
So now it’s just making that a lot more professional and having a place where we can offer our services to everyone.”
The facility, which the owners said is fully licensed to operate in Qatar, follows animal boarding guidelines set out by International Cat Care in the UK.
It also meets environmental ministry approvals, they said.
Currently, the hotel has 46 air-conditioned rooms that can accommodate up to 70 cats.
But the owners said they are toying with the idea of opening a separate hotel for dogs. It’s tricky, however, because “they’re obviously a lot more demanding,” Margaret Al Humaidi said.
“They’d need a soundproof sleeping accommodation, walks during the day…We are thinking about it, we are seriously considering it because we know dogs need a place to go as well and it’s not so easy to look after at home.”
For now, cat rooms include indoor options with windows and ledges, and outdoor kennels with cat flaps leading to a shaded mini-patio area.
The “chalets” are known as The Palm, The Desert Rose, The Dune, The Oryx and The Pearl, and prices range from QR65 to QR200 per night per animal.
The hotel also has a Pet Taxi service, in which door-to-door cat pick-up and drop-off services are offered for a fee.
Over the past few years, the venue appears to have racked up many satisfied reviews, according to its Facebook page. One person wrote shortly after the hotel opened:
“Thanks for taking such EXCELLENT CARE of our little girl during her 3 week vacation with you guys. The photos and e-mails are great and they give reassurance and peace of mind that all is well.
Thanks for all the coaxing you did with her to get her to eat dry biscuits again. She can’t wait to come back in December.”
Branding aside, the hotel functions much as any other kennel. A typical day starts at 6:30am, when the rooms are cleaned and dusted to remove fur and clean out litter.
During the rest of the day, staffers feed and groom the cats and facilitate playtime. In addition to the owners, there are three full-time employees.
They monitor the cat’s eating habits, along with stool and urine activity throughout the day, taking notes for record-keeping.
The cats’ owners, who are usually on vacation, constantly receive updates upon requests, including photos and videos of their pets.
The day ends at 9pm, when lights and music are turned off for bedtime.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, cats are given some treats and catnip.
According to Asha Al Humaidi, a lot of precautions need to be taken to avoid cross-infections. One of those is never letting cats from different owners mingle.
Other precautions include requiring cats to have up-to-date flu, rabies and enteritis vaccinations and ensuring they are spayed or neutered after turning six months old.
The Catari Cat Hotel currently has more than 200 customers and has accommodated more than 450 cats since its opening.
In addition to taking in dogs, the owners said they’re also considering launching an online store. This would sells toys, food and other items for low prices.
They are also investigating an online flight booking system for cats in case their owners must relocate on short notice.