Privacy, uninterrupted farmland views and specially formulated heating systems – John Daly visits a five-star cattery
O for the life of a cat. Lounging about endlessly on your hammock, tasty treats arriving at the swish of a paw, new friends next door to go scratch a post with and a cadre of enthusiastic human servants keen to respond to your slightest whim.
This is no idle fantasy for those fortunate felines taking up temporary residence at Cedar Lodge Cattery, a new level of comfort and joy for vacationing moggies deep in the heart of Cork’s scenic countryside. This exclusive cattery in idyllic Donoughmore is the result of a long journey for Cork couple, John and Tania Reardon, who have put their money where their mouth is in the belief that the time is right for a bespoke high-end cattery. Like many a good idea, this bucolic countryside venture was born partly out of necessity that followed an unexpected redundancy.
“We were happily living in Dublin with good banking jobs and a fairly well planned life,” John explained. “Then, quite unexpectedly, we both found ourselves redundant around the same time. It was an eye opener,” he adds with feeling. The couple and their four children eventually opted to move back to their native Cork, and begin a new life chapter at John’s family farm in scenic Donoughmore. “Tania was fortunate enough to finish her Dublin banking job on a Friday and begin a new venture down here with Apple the following Monday, so that did take the immediate financial pressure off,” he recalled.
Having given a decent portion of his life in finance, however, John saw his temporary career dilemma as a chance to make a change. Having parlayed his B. Comm degree and Msc in Strategic Management to a solid career with one of the country’s leading banks, redundancy forced him to take a long look at where he was and where he might want to go.
“I had been in banking pretty much all my life, so it was now or never for a change. It also occurred to me that, at 43, I was exactly halfway to the age at which my father died at - 86.” Living in idyllic surroundings with their 4 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 6 horses, coming back to land that’s been in John’s family for generations has been a major change from the bustle of Dublin city life. Given his obvious love of animals, the idea of opening an upmarket cattery seemed a natural progression for John.
“A friend mentioned that a cattery might provide an ideal solution to combining all the skills, resources and interests that we had, and so we began a long process of research visiting several catteries in Cork, Kerry and Dublin. While there were several cattery providers in the market, we were very aware there was also an household-cat population in Ireland having trebled to now equalling the popularity of dogs in recent years.”
The end result of their painstaking research is a custom-designed cattery, built to the highest of standards of hygiene and security - guided always to delivering the maximum mental and physical wellbeing of the cats that stay at Cedar Lodge.
“We have used our redundancy packages and family support to invest almost a six-figure sum, and we believe this will pay dividends in the long run with happier cats and their owners leading to a successful venture,” he says. One wonders what Dermot Bannon would make of this luxury abode for lucky mousers – it’s a safe bet he’d agree the development is designed to such a high standard that there’s little Room To Improve.
“Space and comfort were foremost in our minds from design through to build,” John says. “There are no cats overlooking each other, which they hate because they are quite territorial.” The individual units are spaced along a broad, bright corridor where a long conservatory window offers uninterrupted views of the horses and cows in the paddock and fields.
“The size of the units gives cats maximum space and we have multiple bedding and viewing areas and posts. The hammocks are an extra feature, as cats always like to be up on high looking down.” The cattery has air vents and security doors to maximise the comfort and safety, with a heating system specially formulated for contented cats.
“It has been a steep learning curve right from the start, and I must give special thanks to Clare Meade of Cork’s Cat Hospital for her wise and insightful advice on many occasions during the build,” he adds. For John, Tania and their kids, the adventure into the uncharted terrain of kitty-land is just beginning - but one in which all the family are already playing a part.