Sadly, for so many people, March 2020 will be forever associated with the onset of a pandemic that has brought our everyday lives to a screeching halt. In its wide-reaching wake, the Covid-19 crisis has canceled endless events – many celebratory – across the globe. Fortunately, many of these events such as weddings, graduations, conferences, and vacations will be rescheduled.
But there are some celebratory events that are time sensitive. Birthdays are one of them. Sure, rescheduling a birthday celebration provides some solace for us. But the disappointment we experience after a milestone celebration like a first birthday celebration is cancelled often eclipses the joy and excitement for that milestone.
March 2020 marks Club Cat’s first birthday as Orange County’s first luxury cat hotel. In the spirit of seizing the moment I want to reflect upon Club Cat’s very special milestone before it is too late and the world has moved on.
The third baby is born
I often refer to Club Cat as my third baby. As the mother of two young humans, I am aware that there is no worthy comparison to the miracle of human life. But in so many ways launching a business from scratch like Club Cat is similar to giving birth to a human baby. Just as when I gave birth to my two daughters, nothing could prepare me for the life altering journey of Club Cat’s first year as an operating business. In order for it to grow, countless hours of work and boundless amounts of energy are poured into the first year. A durable foundation is absolutely critical for it to develop and grow in a healthy way.
If I build Club Cat, will they come?
The night before we opened in March of last year I was suddenly fraught with unanswered questions and concerns. Now that we’d finally built Club Cat, would the crazy cat parent customers like me come? Would they come back? The endless hours of primary and secondary research I had done resoundingly screamed “Yes!” As did my gut instinct. But there was that pesky little devil guy sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear that perhaps I was wrong. Nobody was as cat crazy as me! He whispered that I was the only cat mama who felt the way I did about my cats.
I didn’t want to believe pesky little devil guy. But what if he was right? What if I really was the only overprotective cat parent in Orange County?
Thankfully, I flicked that little dream taker off my shoulder and vowed that Club Cat would be the first and best luxury cat hotel in Orange County.
And I know that I am biased. But it is.
Birds of a feather
Getting to know Club Cat’s customers – both human and feline – is even more rewarding than I’d imagined.
I have always loved my own cats to the point where mental health intervention is probably not a bad idea. However, I was surprised at my vast capacity to love cats that aren’t mine but are in my charge temporarily. I can’t tell you how many of our kitty cat guests I have fallen in love with. Some have even broken my heart when they leave.
Getting to know our cat parents is surprisingly enjoyable. Club Cat’s human customers are unlike anything I have experienced in my professional life. No matter how different we are in demographics – gender, race, language, culture, age – our common love for cats bridges these gaps.
Cat parents regale my staff and me regularly with such colorful stories about their fur kids. How they first met their kitty, quirky traits, and food habits and preferences are just a few of the many ways we gain greater insight to our feline guests. And each kitty cat is so unique in how they respond to being away from home. Some adjust immediately and are social, playful, and gobble up their first meal as if it’s their last. Others take a while to adapt to their suite and the new environment in general. My team and I are keenly aware that we earn each kitty cat’s trust on their own timeline. And you just can’t hurry trust.
The frosting on the birthday cake
In just twelve months, Club Cat has had the honor of hosting hundreds of kitty cats. The dream I hatched back when I was teaching business courses at Orange Coast College finally became a reality. Our stellar and heartfelt 5-star reviews on Yelp, Google, NextDoor, Facebook and other platforms are evidence of this. But the real deal for me is when a customer hugs me and says, “Thank you for taking such great care of my baby while I was gone.”
What’s happening right now is not what I had envisioned for Club Cat’s first birthday by any stretch of the imagination. Like most hospitality businesses primarily serving the travel industry, Club Cat is experiencing a major hardship with everyone in a shelter in place state. And yet, I am so grateful for this journey.
As we all move forward with continued uncertainty, there is one thing I am certain about: Club Cat will land on its feet when this health crisis is over.
Thank you to all of our customers who have made Club Cat’s first year one I will always remember with love and gratitude. We are so excited for what the future holds. Stay safe and healthy until then!