How are those cats doing? Some of you have been wondering – and indeed it’s been a while since we last checked in with our innkeepers’ cats on this blog. A few weeks ago, we celebrated our 1 1/2 year anniversary of innkeeping, and are about to start another summer, so this would be a good time to report how the feline 2/3 of our household (made up of two humans and twice as many cats) have been doing, two winters and one busy summer season under their belts.
Well, before we got busy last spring, Oscar, Harri and Tibby had adjusted somewhat to innkeeping life. Harri was probably the most successful, taking one day at a time, which worked out well for her once the season began. It also helped that she is the lowest maintenance cat we have, and that she can be happy in the sun just being by herself, or sleeping for hours on her yellow blanket on top of the couch. She likes to be in the middle of things (but not as the center of attention, like Tibby), even if she just rests or sleeps. She loved our new deck in the backyard, and the tree perches we had built for her in the spring. If she happens to be somewhere where noises and people get a little too crazy, she does the same as when a vet visit is imminent: hide behind or under the couch, and come back out when the coast is clear.
Tibby, on the other hand, realized last spring that things were going to go a little out of (his) control, so he made a plan to get lots of attention before it was too late. Within a matter of weeks, he had ramped up the volume and frequency of his demands, and successfully increased the number of daily brushings from one or two to four or more. He made sure to have a new standard firmly in place before the season was in full swing, and this standard is still the norm today: at least two brushings per person per day. (It used to not matter so much who gave the brushings, but now he’s keeping track.)
Mr. Oscar No Vacancy Nubble has not changed his mind in all these months: he would still rather live without the constant threat of phone calls, door bells, and random people walking into his territory without his permission. But instead of hiding from voices he hears from the dining room in the morning, which is what he did in the beginning, he learned how to relax back on the bed after his morning outings, safe in the assumption that none of these voices would make it up the stairs other than in sound form. I predict he’ll be shocked to see it all start up again, but at least he derives one big benefit from the change of seasons: he can be outside again, and he won’t need a door (wo)man to let him in and out. If it ever gets warm enough to turn off the heat this year, he’ll be going through the cat flap at least 25 times a day.
But I mentioned four feline members of the household before. Who is the fourth? Well, she’s the new kid – and the only one who actually has not lived through all these innkeeping seasons. She adopted us towards the end of October, when she was only 8 weeks old – so she hasn’t yet had a Towne Motel summer. She’s never experienced Lobsterfest, Bluesfest, or the Fourth of July – and during Windjammer Festival last year, she probably still had her eyes closed and didn’t roam far from her mother. Only during Toboggan championship weekend and the Camden Conference, our two busy February weekends, did she get a taste of the busy season. And we got a taste of the kind of innkeeper she’d make – in case we collapse in the middle of the season and the fuzzy foursome are left in charge.
About a year ago we wrote about the other cats’ innkeeping styles: Oscar as the No Vacancy host, who would probably put the place up for sale this spring if we let him; Harri as the live and let live innkeeper, who just wants things to be peaceful, and Tibby as the host of a cat therapy inn, meaning guests will improve their vacation by catering to Tibby, and any non-cat people better learn how to fake it or risk having to go without breakfast or housekeeping. (None of our cats have yet understood the concept of tripadvisor).
But I digress. Let’s get back to the new cat, little Maggie Mae, and whether she has what it takes to run this place. We could start with the fact that Maggie Mae is still a kitten, even if a rapidly growing one. Which means that putting her in charge would likely get us in trouble with child labor laws. However, given her smarts, independence, and insistence on ruling the roost, it would probably come naturally to her to take over the whole operation, just as long as she never has to compromise on her life and innkeeping philosophy: Eat, love, play – and sleep. Ideally, each of them as hard as possible. It’s the perfect philosophy for our vacationing guests – most of them probably travel with at least three of these priorities in mind. But does it make sense for innkeepers to have the same philosophy as their guests? Maggie’s doesn’t include the word “work,” after all. Is innkeeping possible without work?? Well, —read on.
Maggie may not have any formal qualifications to be a Maine coast innkeeper, but she does have one big one compared to her siblings and us: she’s a native Mainer, and a local! She is also a Maine Coon cat, for the most part anyway. Two Maine strikes in her favor: that’s a good start. And then there is her boundless energy, essential for innkeepers during the busy season. No, it’s not the “zoom around the room” catnip in some of her toys that accounts for her craziness – she was Miss Energy Bunny from day 1, even on the day she got back from spaying. Instead of readjusting gradually, walking around dazed and confused, she left the other cats confused: who is that kitten that looks and acts like someone we know but smells like the vet and other animals?? Let’s hiss at her, just to be on the safe side.
Maggie is also a great multi tasker, or at least an easy task switcher. If something new catches her attention, she can refocus in an instant– a very useful skill for innkeepers, who might be in the middle of folding towels when a guest asks about the best lobster pound in the area at the same time as a housekeeper calls to check on her schedule. Which doesn’t mean that innkeeping Maggie would be a workaholic, stopping neither for chats nor a little ipad game. Just the opposite: at least 80% of her waking hours are about play. And that’s what she’d do with work: just turn it into play! Swiffering the kitchen floor? Fun!! Loading and unloading the dishwasher! More fun! So much, indeed, that she wouldn’t mind joining the dishes in their tumbling cycles, or the laundry in the dryer (or so she thinks). But she knows there are more important and less time consuming things to do – such as opening boxes full of deliveries (Maggie can be fully left in charge of this task, having never left a box unexamined), or putting phone reservations into the system. Ideally with some supervision for the latter: otherwise she’d be happy to assign room 6 to a guest on the 13th of July when what they wanted was room 16 on the 20th of August. But she’s familiar with keyboards and ipad screens, even if she is likely to fall asleep on them as soon as she is finished.
Room deliveries? No problem – with Maggie they’d be faster than ever. She has some of the markings of a cheetah, as well as some of its speed – whether it’s staircases or sprints, corner cuttings, or dashes along straight paths, onto perches, and across obstacles. All while carrying toy mice or fish, of course, and other deliverables to where she thinks they must be. She does expect praise and thank you’s for her deliveries – meaning, room service tips may well become a new reality around here. Not in the form of money, of course: you pay as you play with her instead.
If you’ve stayed with us before, and had to ring the office desk bell before we came in to greet you, know that your wait will be shortened with Maggie in charge: she always loves a good reason to swoop into the office, and check-in will be a breeze. Just a few good whiffs and sniffs, and maybe a payment of chase around the office, and she’ll hand over the keys.
Baking for breakfast? She’d be fine with that too: after all, it relates to eating, one of the main ingredients of her life philosophy. As long as she can bake with butter, that is – and she most certainly could. Probably 90% of our recipes boast butter as a major ingredient, and the freezer usually hosts at least 15 pounds of butter waiting to be whipped into batters. Maggie is always up for a taste of soft or melted butter when she’s in the vicinity. Unlike Oscar, though, a big fan of pumpkin, Maggie would never make pumpkin bread, and therefore probably shouldn’t be in charge of breakfast in the fall.
Maggie would even be happy to perform the occasional plumbing job, at least if it involves faucets, sinks, and showers. Dripping faucets wouldn’t be work for her at all: they’re fun! She’d be pleased to explore additional showers and sinks in the building – the ones she already knows have been getting a bit boring lately.
Maggie has some good marketing ideas as well. Not only has she been spotted on facebook, she’s also thought of various ways to get guests to stay or upgrade to a larger room. Just a sample of her ideas:
- Room with a view upgrade: rent room 11 or 12, and receive guaranteed twice daily sightings of kitten innkeeper up in the pear tree right outside your window!
- Soccer player discount: rent any room at half price if you spend at least a half hour a day playing soccer with kitten innkeeper. Bonus dinner coupon if soccer time can take place during average American dinner hours, sometime between 6 and 7:30 p.m. Ask for additional discounts for ad hoc soccer availability; sign up at the front desk.
- Room with a view / play combo discount: rent a room with view to our patio, and agree to play laser mouse with Maggie once darkness has fallen. Ask for laser mouse at the office desk, or better yet, bring your own. (And leave it behind: there can never be enough laser mice.)
The one thing Maggie Mae will have to insist on is a mid day siesta. She wouldn’t be as sleepy as our other cats when it comes to innkeeping duties, but she definitely needs some long breaks, and early to late afternoon is one of them. Which means: none of these pesky early check-ins, unless they have been pre-arranged and can be delegated to someone with a random post lunch wake time, such as…, well, it would have to be one of her humans; none of the other cats can be relied upon to greet early arrivals with anything more than a yawn. Likely Maggie would put a “No early check-ins!” policy firmly in place, and violators would be greeted by a sign saying “please nap on the lawn until the office reopens.”
Maggie would prefer late check-ins to early ones, as long as they don’t interrupt the feline family dinner time sometime shortly after 7. These minutes demand her full attention – and that of her humans, who need to make sure she lets the other cats finish before their leftovers become the next stages of her four course meal. Would Maggie serve our guests a four course breakfast? It’s not impossible – but more likely she would teach them to procure it themselves. Just make sure, she’ll say, to get your hands on the returning trays and dishes during breakfast – some of these have leftovers on them, from muffin crumbs to yogurt remnants, and sometimes even a half piece of coffee cake someone couldn’t finish. (Maggie doesn’t believe in wasting food) Guests will think of better ways to make breakfast into a four course meal – maybe by starting with fruit, continuing to granola, followed by a muffin or a slice of banana bread, and finishing with yogurt. That’s fine with her too – it just wouldn’t have occurred to her.
What would Maggie want for the future when it comes to Towne Motel innkeeping? She probably wouldn’t want us, or herself, to be quite as busy as we are in the summer. There should always be plenty of time for play. When there is not enough play time before or after dinner, because of check-ins or breakfast prep, she gets a bit upset. She’d also join Oscar in her desire for a bigger outdoor space so she can do her crazy runs from one end to the other, across plants and furniture and up the pear tree. Oscar could easily sell her on the idea of imploding the garage, pet friendly room above it be damned. (They don’t really care about that room – they know pet friendly usually means dogs. And even when it doesn’t, having another cat on their territory isn’t any better – especially since they don’t even get to know it). Maggie has noticed indoor expansion options as well, knowing there are doors leading to unknown rooms and hallways – such as the one leading to rooms 16 and 17. And that’s where she will likely agree with her siblings: make 16 and 17 off limits for guests, and turn it into more cat space instead!