WNC Airbnb sees an influx of bookings after the Tik Tok virus featuring feline residents

The day after a guest posted a video on Airbnb’s Tik Tok about Kim Dolan’s cats in Clyde, her bookings began to explode.

“I woke up with 15 reservations and I was so confused,” she said. “I called some of my friends with rentals in the area and they weren’t seeing the same thing. That’s when Jamie [a recent guest] called me to tell me that a video she posted had gone viral overnight.

The Tik Tok video featured Dolan’s unique one-bedroom, one-bathroom Airbnb rental, nestled in Haywood County. What’s so unique about it? It is on the property of Love and Purrs Sanctuary, a 501-C3 non-profit cat sanctuary.

After wiping your feet on the cat mat, you walk through a pink door to be greeted by all things feline. From the art on the wall, the comforter on the bed, to the plug-in covers – everything is brightly decorated with cats.

But it’s not just the decor of the Airbnb that has captured the hearts of travelers, it’s the roommates you get during your stay. A small door in the corner of the room connects to a fully operational cat sanctuary that serves as home to dozens of rescue felines. Once you’ve checked in and settled into your room, you can unlock the cat door and it’s not long before furry visitors arrive, eagerly awaiting treats.

Love and Purrs Sanctuary is a unique cage-free, kill-free sanctuary where cats and kittens live with 24/7 human caretakers in a home environment until adopted.

Outside the Airbnb is a fenced-in yard with a fire pit and picnic area and free-roaming cats everywhere you turn. According to Dolan, this year has been particularly difficult as it has seen an increase in the number of cats to be rescued and find comfort at the sanctuary.

Just before mealtime on Sunday, a dozen furry friends greeted me at the door, ready for pets. We sat in the grass and watched the cats pounce, stopping very often for cuddles and head scratches before roaming the yard for the adventure.

Dolan said Airbnb is a critical part of Sanctuary’s operations because it accounts for about 70% of the operating budget that allows it to serve the community. The Airbnb has been in operation since 2017, and Dolan solidified the sanctuary’s nonprofit status in 2019.

On a coffee table inside the Airbnb is a notebook with photos and stories of all of the sanctuary’s feline residents, including information on how some of them can be adopted. However, not all residents of Love and Purrs are adoptable, such as Stevie, who is completely blind. Several resident cats are great visitors, but depending on their particular needs or individual histories, they may not be suitable as pets outside of the sanctuary environment.

Love and Purrs Sanctuary won the 2021 Top Nonprofit Organization award as part of the “Best of Asheville” and hope to win again in 20222.

“Best of Asheville voting is now open,” Dolan said. “You can vote every day and you can vote on multiple devices.”

Dolan said the Airbnb is booked through the end of the year largely due to the Tik Tok video and she expects additional bookings to start coming in now that Best of Asheville 2022 is up. open.

To vote for Love and Purrs, visit https://www.votebestofavl.com

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