Sunday, June 3, 2007

2 June: The Katzenpension

We departed for Katzenpension Stäbler (the photo below is from their website) just after 5:00 on Saturday evening. According to my directions it was located about twenty minutes away, near Leinfelden-Echterdingen, just south of Vaihingen (where I do my grocery shopping at the Schwaben Galerie mall). Our trusty navi Susie led us directly to our destination (although she suggested the craziest route to get to Vaihingen) and we spotted the house with no trouble at all – distinguished by the metal cat sculptures mounted on the wall. We parked and walked up to the door, ringing the bell marked Katzenwohnung (“cat house”). Frau Stäbler, a respectable-looking middle-aged woman with a small flaxen-haired girl in tow, greeted us and showed us up a narrow staircase to the second floor of her traditional German house. A pretty gray cat was seated on the windowsill over the stairs and a contended-looking tabby was lounging in an elevated basket.

Frau Stäbler opened a locked door and led us into a veritable kitty heaven: several interconnected rooms packed from floor to ceiling with multi-leveled cat play towers, cozy baskets, and toys. The place looked very well-kept and the litterboxes tucked discretely into the corners appeared clean and tidy. There were cats everywhere – perhaps a couple dozen in all – but it did not feel overly crowded. Frau Stäbler pointed to a wall of good-sized cages (similar to the cat accommodations at our vet in Michigan) and explained that she uses them only in emergencies, as a holding area for cats that will be going home soon, or for those that are particularly anti-social. We looked out onto the securely fenced balcony, where several cats that prefer outdoor living were snuggled in baskets, enjoying the view and fresh air.

We asked about the “single accommodations” and Frau Stäbler led us up another, even narrower staircase to the third floor. Up here there was another surprisingly spacious feline playroom tucked into the eaves (complete with exposed stone-and-timber walls), with a smaller fenced-off area where solitary cats can stay. It was a sizeable space, with several play towers and plenty of places to lounge. She said that it would be no problem to keep Scotty up there alone as long as we are not traveling over a major holiday (which we usually avoid anyway). Frau Stäbler was familiar with Schloss Unterriexingen and she agreed that while it is a good place for dogs, it is not so ideal for cats. She has heard that they do not even have heating for the cats in the winter (they keep the cats in a glorified barn). She pointed out that her facilities are heated and air-conditioned. She said it was fine for us to bring Scotty’s own food, since he seems to have a sensitive stomach. All in all it looked like a great solution for Scotty’s solitary personality, and Frau Stäbler seemed like a responsible, competent cat person. We thanked her for the visit and I promised to send her an email finalizing our details. What’s even better is that she charges only 7 Euro per day, whereas Schloss Unterriexingen charges 12 Euro per day for cats. Now I just have to send a message to Herr Ratibor politely explaining that we have found a more appropriate kennel for Scotty.

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