Gwen Sparling has tons of ideas on a daily basis – some fantastic, some not, and some maybe even a little bizarre. When she came up with the idea for Camp Kitty though, it seemed practical and doable.
When her cat, Birdie, was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection a few days before Gwen was to go on vacation, she had to think fast. Birdie needed medication, so she stayed at her vet’s office. When Gwen returned to pick up Birdie, the staff raved about how wonderful she was (um, yeah, she’s awesome).
This interaction made Gwen think: her dogs had the option of going to one of many top-notch boarding kennels. Dogs have tons of options, actually, but that wasn’t the case for Birdie. Her only option was the vet. Why not start a boarding kennel for cats? With the support of her family, Gwen soon began the journey to start Atlanta’s first cats-only boarding kennel.
Camp Kitty opened in June of 2009 in an unassuming wooden house in Scottdale, Georgia. There was no grand opening celebration or fanfare. There weren’t even any cats! Then, as the fear and doubt began to appear, right in the midst of the first “what the hell did I get myself into?”, the phone rang. Camp Kitty’s first customers came by way of a lady who had just moved to Atlanta from Hawaii. Her purebred Siamese babies, Kili and Hobbes, needed a break from staying in a hotel room with a loud and grabby 18-month-old child.
That first Thanksgiving, Camp Kitty housed the most we’d ever had at one time – 18 cats – which was exciting and scary even though we weren’t at full capacity of 21. By 2012, word was getting around and the momentum began to build. Camp Kitty had at least one cat boarding every day. Employees were hired, and we exceeded capacity for every major holiday. Things were going great, just in time for the growing pains to begin. We needed more space in a more modern and efficient building.
In the summer of 2016, Gwen signed a lease for our current location, with twice the space! When Camp Kitty first opened, we didn’t really know what we were doing; we thought a cat boarding kennel just needed kennels, a table, sink, and a fridge. Experience quickly taught us that a kennel should not be housed in a building made completely of wood. Our new mantra at every step of the new installation became “Is this pee proof?”
Camp Kitty is the only boarding kennel in the Atlanta metro area that is strictly for cats. No dogs allowed! That means there is no barking and no strange smells. Best of all, the staff fully understands and caters to the unique needs of cat. Have you ever seen a dog person try to handle a cat?
Our daily care includes:
- Litter boxes are cleaned twice a day.
- Water is changed twice a day.
- Feeding is managed per parent-provided instruction.
- Free-feeding cats get fresh food twice a day.
- We play the Cat Sitter’s DVD for our boarders’ viewing pleasure, which is full of birds, lizards, and fish!
- All this plus lots of love and personal attention, when they want it.
At Camp Kitty we have 33 spacious cabins for cats to enjoy.
Our standard cabins are 7’6” high and 3’ wide and 3’ deep with four floors. It’s like a townhouse for your feline who loves to live vertically! The litter box is placed on the bottom isolated from feeding and sleeping areas. The size allows room for the most playful cats to jump around and the levels are intimate enough for the most introverted cats to relax. Some cabins have cat doors for large families of cats or cats who need each other for comfort, but don’t want to be around each other all the time.
Our large cabins measure 5’ x 5’ and are also 7’6” tall. These cabins are ideal for large families or very large cats who would have trouble navigating our narrower cabins.
We also have single story cabins (referred to as senior condos). These cabins have more floor space for older or arthritic cats who can’t jump.
The Cat Boarding Experience
Every cat that boards at Camp Kitty dictates her own stay. The only rule that applies to each boarder is that every cat must stay in their cabin the first 24 hours. Everything else is managed on an individual basis, dictated by the needs of the cats themselves.
When possible, we let the cats out to walk around on their own terms. Some cats are more outgoing than others. We carefully watch to judge the interactions with fellow boarders to determine if they are comfortable being out with other cats. It’s important to remember that cats don’t behave or think like dogs; a new environment can be stressful and we certainly don’t want to exacerbate that stress by forcing them into uncomfortable situations.