When she was eight years old, Leanna Good’s mother gave her a cat. That began her live-long love of felines. “My mother’s friend told her that I needed some company as a child. Despite the fact that she didn’t like cats she agreed to get a cat for me. And then I was done, and I’ve had at least one ever since.”
Good’s love of cats also led her to a career as a veterinary technician. She worked in the veterinary surgery department of Louisiana State University and in veterinary clinics around Canada.
But it was an article that she saw in the 1990s about a cat bed & breakfast that planted the seed of her current project: a cat hotel, where cats could stay while their owners are away. Her experience as a veterinary technician showed her that veterinary clinics – essentially, hospitals for animals – may not always be the best places for people to board their cats. “You don’t want to be exposing them to potential diseases, and then it’s a stressful situation, and the technicians are there as nurses to the sick animals.” So, her idea began to grow. “With this little seed of an idea in the back of my head, I thought, ‘If I ever get the opportunity, I think I can do better.’”
When she and her husband David, a veterinarian, moved back to Ontario in 2012, she decided to launch her idea of a cat hotel. “I decided, as I was getting older, that I’m not good at wrestling the big dogs anymore, and cats have always been my forté, that this was the time to do it.”
She set up a small space in her home for six cat boarders in 2013. Over the next year, she doubled the number of spaces, and she and her husband renovated a small cottage on their old property between Colborne and Brighton. Even then, that space was not enough: they moved to a new property north of Castleton in August 2017.
To provide safe and comfortable accommodation for her feline guests, Good researched extensively what other catteries were doing, and what the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association recommended for housing pets. The result is a collection of glass-doored modular suites, made from a hygienic structural plastic, which can house multiple cats, and even connect neighbouring suites for families. She tries to provide as soothing an environment as possible. “I try to keep music going or something to keep them entertained, so they don’t get quite so bored. It’s not their home setting, but once they’re here for a couple of days, they’re relaxed, they’re content; it’s not their home, but they’re OK with it.”
Good provides her little furry guests not just with a comfortable environment, but also with stimulation and company. She lets them out of their suites several times a day, in rotation, to get exercise and play. “But I let the cats dictate to me how much interaction they want to have. I let them tell me whether they are ready to interact. If they want to play, if they want to snuggle, if they just want to sit at the back of their suite and decide whether or not I’m acceptable for a couple of days, then that’s OK too.”
At her cat hotel, Good also provides peace of mind for the owners by being able to keep a constant eye on her guests. “The fact that I’m a veterinary technician means I can see a problem before it gets serious and might be missed at home. It gives my clients a sense of security that there is somebody there, that they’re not on their own all the time.”
Good’s Garden Cat Resort is located on Morganston Road in Castleton. For information and reservations, call (905) 355-3090 or (613) 481-6117.