The Lap of Luxury

Cambridge’s new PetsHotel is the cat’s meow. Dogs like it, too.


In case we haven’t met, I have a cat named Joanie. Unlike dogs, which sound majorly needy, cats don’t need to be bathed—or boarded. Whenever I travel, Joanie makes do with a five-day automatic feeder and neighbors willing to stop in. It helps that she pees in a box.

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But sometimes I wonder if Joanie is as happy with our arrangement as I pretend she is. Like, for example, the time I returned to find she’d pushed all the wine glasses off the kitchen shelf.

Cambridge’s PetsHotel, in the new Fresh Pond PetSmart, is salvation for the guilt-addled pet owner: convenient and well priced, with none of the cramped cages or odoriferousness associated with most boarding facilities. Twenty-seven dollars a night for dogs and $14 for cats pays for posh digs, Science Diet meals (or BYO), fleecy hypoallergenic blankets, and twice-daily play sessions with impossibly upbeat hotel staffers. Spa services cost extra, and include baths, nail clipping, and ear cleaning.

For her stay, Joanie is booked into one of the “kitty cottages,” bilevel nooks that feature “private relief areas.” A flat-screen TV shows movies (The Adventures of Milo and Otis is a guest favorite) to muffle stray barks from the mutts across the hall, where lactose-free ice cream and biscuits are served on demand. Traveling owners are encouraged to call in to speak with their pets on the Bone Booth, so I do. Whoever answers tells me Joanie is doing fine—also that she “loves shiny things”—but is presently napping, and can I call back?

At pickup three days later, Joanie’s “Pawgress Report” notes she was “very affectionate.” “Joanie was So. Much. Fun!” no fewer than six staffers sing. The cat seems content, if a bit haughty with excess attention; my apartment looks as it did when I left. Not even the neediest bitches—or clingy cat-owners—can poo-poo that.