Victoria Marant, center, and her assistant, Anna Leisha Southard, cradle Persian kittens in boarding chalets at Carolyn’s Kitten Corner in Yardville. Instead of tiny cages, the animals stay in spacious chalets outfitted for felines’ two favorite activities, climbing and hiding. Staff photo by Chris Sturgis.

By Chris Sturgis

Victoria Marant was the kind of child who brought home stray dogs and cats.

Even when her father, Tony Marant, said no more pets. His beloved German shepherd had died, and he was determined to never feel so attached to an animal again.

While he was in the hospital recovering from an accident, Victoria sneaked a kitten into the house, giving her mother, Carolyn, a chance to bond with it.

By the time Tony came home, the forbidden kitten was part of the family.

“Ever since then, we’ve had cats,” her father said. “I was a dog person. I got attached to cats through her and through her mother,” he said.

That first kitten also commenced Victoria’s career with pets. First, as a groomer of dogs and cats, and eventually, breeding and showing purebred Persians cats. Four years ago, she sought her father’s help in starting a pet business combining boarding and grooming with a pet boutique that sells accessories, including toys and grooming tools.

Tony thought it was a great idea. He liked the idea of naming the business in memory of Victoria’s mother, who passed away nine years ago. “There is no one that has more love or more patience with cats than my daughter,” he said.

Victoria said convincing a cat it might actually enjoy being shampooed, all begins with direct eye contact and a gentle massage that lets the animal she is in charge, just as a mother cat would. She also uses an “e-collar,” a soft version of the device veterinarians use to keep post-surgical animals from gnawing on their stitches.

If they they require more convincing, she grabs the loose skin at the scruff of the neck, which doesn’t hurt them. Every cat is conditioned by its mother to freeze when handled this way. Once a cat believes you are dominant, they naturally submit to anything, Victoria said. She bathes, shaves, trims the claws and even applies Soft Paws, blunt tips that keep the animal from damaging furniture. The nail tips come in red, white and blue for Independence Day.

Summer is the peak of the pet-boarding season, she said. She has cat chalets large enough for a human being to walk into, which are equipped with food, water, a litter box, a carpeted platform for climbing and a fringed curtain for privacy.

The idea is to keep animals from being traumatized. There are no dogs allowed. The chalets are more comfortable and spacious than cages, which can be worrisome if they remind the animal of being kept at an animal shelter, she said.

Her experience with breeding and showing cats have made her very familiar with administering medicines to cats, even ones with chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

Victoria resides in an apartment above her business and has a night crew that checks on the animals.

Victoria said she she uses all-natural shampoos to remove grease, loose fur and bacteria from the skin. She spends about two-and-a-half hours on each cat, blow-drying the fur by hand. She said professional grooming cuts down on fur balls, which are unhealthy for the cat and unsightly in the house.

“The key to my success is that I can relate to them. They feel safe in my hands because I know what I’m doing,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I was born a cat in another life.”

Carolyn’s Kitten Corner, 128 Route 156, Yardville, may be reached at (609) 581-3400, or visited on the Web at carolynskittencorner.com.