With 25 individual apartments, handmade balls and mats and private litter boxes, Cats Play While You’re Away in Vancouver offers many opportunities to pamper your feline friend while you aren’t home. 

“I supply everything but the food. I asked cat parents to bring their kids’ food only because when you change an animal’s diet it can cause a tummy upset,” said Margie McGhee, owner of Cats Play While You’re Away. “Plus, its comforting because it’s just like home with their food.”

Along with having their favorite chow, each cat apartment has a scratching post, climbing shelves and homemade cat balls and cat mats. The mats and balls are made by McGhee herself out of fleece and foam. 

“I make them all,” she said. “It gives them a little safe place to call their own, and when parents bring a T-Shirt or whatever, we pop the T-shirt on the mat or in the ball and they feel even more safe.”

With a background in retail, McGhee thought of the idea for the boarding facility two years ago while on a trip to the East Coast. 

“Before I left I went to board my cats and the place was almost full in January,” she said. “I was back east and thought about it all the way home and really started crunching the numbers and what it would take to put this together.”

McGhee opened up Cats Play While You’re Away in July 2019 in an old office space in Vancouver. 

“I did all the drywall myself,” she said, pointing to the first set of cat apartments in the building. 

Each of the 25 apartments is 4-by-7-feet with a few rooms that have the ability to expand to 15 feet in length. 

“These ones are able to open up or close off depending on what the needs of the cat are,” McGhee said while pointing out the apartments in the front of the building. 

Along with giving the cats their own space to make a home away from home, McGhee lets the cats get out and explore the building every once in a while to burn energy. With climbing ramps, perches and scratching posts all over, furry felines have opportunities to play and relax. 

“I kind of have a kitty spa,” she said, explaining how she will trim the cats’ nails and put on nail caps if the owner prefers. 

While a pampering spa might not be for every cat, each feline gets daily attention and visits from McGhee to make the new space more inviting for the cats. 

Along with this, McGhee said the paint in the building is a “fear-free color scheme” to ease the nerves of cats. 

“Cats see colors in threatening and non-threatening” she said. “This lavender color is non-threatening to them.” 

To keep the “fear-free” environment, McGhee solely focuses on cats and keeps the environment dog-free. 

“While cats can grow up with a dog and not be scared of it, any other dog is still a possible predator,” she said, explaining how dogs can scare even the toughest of cats. 

Not to mention, it’s a quieter environment. 

McGhee’s experience with feline care goes farther than just owning cats for most of her life as last month she was recently appointed as the secretary for Furry Friends, a local no-kill cat rescue. 

In the future, McGhee hopes to open up a portion of the facility to adoptable cats from Furry Friends or the Humane Society. 

“The Humane Society is going to come out and look at my place and I hope to offer up a couple of spaces for those adult cats that are adoptable but they just don’t thrive in the shelter environment,” she said.

Other future plans include a dedicated grooming area as an expansion to the spa and more space to play. McGhee hopes to turn the back room into a large play area for cats to run around and be themselves. 

To board your furry friend at Cats Play While You’re Away, vaccinations must be up to date and each cat must have had a flea treatment in the past 30 days. 

For more information visit catsplayboarding.com/about-us/.

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