I'd cut the film and hang from either end. Count frames before you cut, so it ends up jiving with whatever storage system you have. The U is a bad idea unless it is an upside down U.
Welcome to the world of fuzzy critters. I have three cats, and gave up long ago on ever having a totally clean workspace. Sometimes they come and print with me. I don't even bother to protest any more. No point in rebelling against thy feline masters, for thou shall never win.
I dry my film in a steamed-up shower stall, away from all feline activity.