More frequent furry patrons include geriatric cats
or those with health conditions that prohibit them from
“We keep them maintained,” she said.
A soothing grooming environment is the objective and
generally achieved; however, cats are not known for social consistency, and life at the salon can, occasionally, get
a little delicate.
“A cat that is great at home may not have ever left the
house or been around, say, 12 cats at once,” West says.
However, slow, gentle comb-outs, mini massages and
a relaxing fluff-dry serve to calm even the most reluctant
kitty, and each is approached on an individual basis.
“The bathing is the easiest part of the process; usu-
ally, it’s the brushings and nail trims that can be a little
tricky,” West says. “We have a lot of customers who think
because their cat is declawed, it can’t do any damage, but
teeth often cause the most harm.”
Firmly against declawing, the owners of The Cat Con-
nection encourage nail trims or Soft Paws as alternatives
to the procedure.
A severely anxious cat will be referred to a veterinarian.
“If a cat is stressed out, he isn’t going to enjoy the process, and we don’t want to take them to the next level;
they don’t need a bath that badly,” she says.
A FELINE SLEEPOVER
Boarding has been available at The Cat Connection since
1985, and, currently, the facilities will accommodate 100
cats in 3,000 square feet of space.
The unique requirements of each charge are easily
taken care of with the several kennel sizes available.
However, West noted that the majority of cats are most
at ease in a small space, and the standard cat condo is a
“Cats don’t need a big expanse in a strange place,” she
says. “They are really most comfortable when surround-
ed on all sides by walls.”
Energetic cats and kittens can stretch their legs in the
more-spacious deluxe units. To promote further activity,
three custom-built playrooms are utilized for this pur-
pose, and furry guests enjoy taking a turn in these spaces
on their own or with other feline family members.
“We do not mix families in the play area,” she says.
“Cats don’t like new friends.”
Besides having an ardor for cats, the innate ability to
read kitty body language and assess personality is a must
for members of the kennel staff.
“This is critical,” West says. “Just like grooming, you
can get hurt in a hurry.”
The Cat Connection strives to meet the needs of furry,
four-legged customers and their owners. In this regard, a
knowledgeable, well-trained staff of cat lovers must also
possess the ability to communicate with pet owners.
“There’s no book for this,” West says. “It’s not some-
thing that can be taught.”
With many long-term associates on staff, several of
which are former customers, one-on-one mentoring is the
primary training tool.
“Everyone here is a cat specialist,” she says.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
Assisting homeless cats in search of a forever family is
another fundamental component to The Cat Connection ideology, although adoption days do not normally
“Since we are not centrally located, we have not experienced big turnouts,” she says.
Instead, locally rescued felines are fostered in-store,
where they examine a potential family from the comfort
of their very own interim abode.
“The cats have a full run that goes around the top
of our food section, as well as a spot in the front of the
store,” West says. “They can go up and down between
To promote further awareness, Cat Café events pres-
ent an irresistible combination of java and kitties.
“We held our first Cat Café in 2015 as a rescue fundraiser, hired baristas and 600 people came through,” she
A one-time storage room was converted for the cafés
and today serves as a community event space.
“There are now a couple of nearly full-time cafés in
the area, so we are not holding them as often, but we
got in pretty early on, and there was lots of media [at-tention],” West says.
In-store promotions also serve to raise funds for
animals in need, such as 2017 hurricane victims. The
online site features an additional fundraising component, with a percentage of donations earmarked for the
“We will donate 10 percent of our sales during a designated timeframe,” she says.
CAT BEHAVIOR 101
The repurposed storage room also serves as a venue for
educational workshops. For instance, pet CPR classes
are held on a regular basis.
“We actually trade services, and for every event the
CPR trainer conducts here, one of our employees gets
certified,” West says.
For 2018, additional general pet education classes for
customers are in the works.
Cats enjoy front and center celebrity in marketing
and advertising materials, starring on weekly coupons, social media postings and other promotional
“I have eight cats, Priscilla has seven; our staff members also have multiple cats,” West says. “We are surrounded, and if an item doesn’t make it with our own
pets, we don’t need to sell it.
“A lot of our advertising pictures are taken in our
homes,” she adds. “You are seeing how we live, and
people can relate to that.”
It’s your time to shine! Pet Product News is calling on pet specialty retail- ers, groomers and service providers to
apply for our annual Retailer of the Year
Awards, which aim to showcase the best
of the best in the industry.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, independent pet retailers must
find innovative ways to differentiate their brands. Pet Product News wants to honor
businesses in the industry
that have found ways to
survive and thrive in their
We’re looking to rec-
ognize outstanding pet
stores—single stores, multiple stores, spe-
cialty stores, boutiques and pet service
establishments—in numerous categories.
What innovative business, sales or man-
agement techniques do you use to bolster
business? What brings your customers
coming back to your store on a regular
basis? What about your store embodies
the independent spirit? What have you
done in the past year to more effec-
tively compete in your market? Tell
us how you promote pet welfare
and well-being, the human-ani-
mal bond, services offered, com-
munity involvement, consumer
education efforts, as well as other
promotional and marketing efforts,
employment training and retention, bril-
liant merchandising strategies and more.
Share why your store(s) are special.
Download the submission form at pet
productnews.com, and mail or email it
along with supplemental material of your
choice—photos, media mentions, community commendations and business awards.
The deadline is April 2, 2018.
Pet Product News will announce the
winner at this year’s SuperZoo trade show
in Las Vegas in June and will profile the
Retailer of the Year, along with 11 category
winners throughout the year, all of whom
will join our Retailer Advisory Board.
Pet Product News’ 2018-2019
Retailer of the Year Nominations
Tell us why your store has what it takes to be ranked among the best of the best
for a chance to win Pet Product News’ Retailer of the Year competition!
YEAR of the
The deadline to enter
is April 2, 2018
TO SUBMIT YOUR
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