SUITE, FELINE LUXURY
After being diagnosed with lupus, Sharon Sutton bought a cat hotel, and boy, are the checked-in cats living it up. Ms. Sutton’s lupus is now in remission, and she has her furry friends to help her appreciate life.
At the Cat House Hotel, cat owners can check their four-legged friends into a variety of rooms and suites: single room, a junior suite, upper or lower condo, a deluxe suite, or a townhouse. The perks don’t stop there.
An ionizer filters and purifies the air the felines inhale, and a reverse osmosis system purifies the water they drink.
Ms. Sutton and her husband, Robert Meltzer, however, did not receive the business with the bells and whistles.
Ms. Sutton said the predecessor of the Cat House Hotel (which was known as just the Cat House) wasn’t in its best shape. When she set her eyes on the place, though, Ms. Sutton saw the potential.
“I saw an amazing opportunity for improvement in the health of the cats and the relationship with the community,” said Ms. Sutton.
Ms. Sutton knows a thing or two about both health and ties to the community. She has years of experience in marketing that she has utilized to teach at Antioch University.
It was while preparing for a class, in fact, that she ran into the notice about the Cat House being for sale.
“I was just looking at the local papers to familiarize myself and use in the classes,” she said.
On the health side, Ms. Sutton was trying to improve her own health as well. Lupus flared up in her life from 1998 to 2000.
“It put everything in perspective. I had never really encountered anything like that,” she said. When she was coming out of the throes of lupus in 2000, Ms. Sutton and her husband bought the Cat House.
Ms. Sutton said she has been an animal lover her whole life and decided to seize the deal because “the things that are rewarding are ones that fill my heart.”
Before she could begin filling her heart, however, the old venue had to be gutted and revamped.
Within the first year, the Cat House underwent a major renovation: new cat rooms were built; air conditioning was installed; and anti-microbial floors replaced the previous carpet flooring.
The tech-savvy couple did not stop there. Ms. Sutton, whose academic background includes a masters in management from Cornell University, and her engineer technologist husband upgraded the business’ system from paper to electronic, a move ahead of its time during the dawn of the 21st century.
The above-mentioned ionizer and reverse osmosis were installed in the past three years.
In its 19th year of operating, the Cat House Hotel employs two managers full time.
There are five to seven part-time employees, depending on the season.
The current part-time employees are all former, current or future UCSB students, and the ladies are led by Sandra Fracchia, who is a manager.
Ms. Fracchia has been working for the meowing hotel for almost 15 years. She became part of the Cat House Hotel team as a Santa Barbara City College student who was transferring to UCSB. Since then, Ms. Fracchia has been Ms. Sutton and Mr. Meltzer’s right-hand woman.
Ms. Sutton and Mr. Meltzer remain involved with their business, though.
For example, Mr. Meltzer handles the finance and accounting, and Ms. Sutton takes charge of the marketing.
At 67, Ms. Sutton seems to have found in the Cat House Hotel a deep joy.
“In the long run in one’s life, you’ll find the greatest happiness if you embrace something that gives you monetary value and joy,” she said.
Well, this 1,800-square-feet joy of Ms. Sutton’s life can board as many as 80 felines.
The Cat House Hotel is located at 1922 De La Vina St.