Every year around 860,000 cats in shelters are euthanized to create room for more stray felines. The number of kittens adopted compared to that of puppies is much smaller, with 95% of puppies finding forever homes while only 82% of kittens have the same luck. As a result, one cat café has a new outdoor catio for guests to cuddle with adoptable kittens. The founder started the café hoping to reduce the number of euthanized cats, and so far, the tremendous effort has paid off. With COVID-19, outdoor spaces have become the best solution to allow human-cat interaction. Check out how the catio finally came to be.
Establishing CatCafé Lounge
Kristi Labrenz, the executive director and founder of CatCafé Lounge in West LA, talked to The Cat’s Meow and discussed her journey to establishing the first-ever non-profit cat café in Los Angeles, California. She had been to Japan and experienced cat cafes and decided it would be a good idea to replicate the concept upon returning to the United States. However, she wanted hers to be different by making the cats available for adoption. After finding out that there were five operational cat cafes in the United States, Labrenz knew her idea would work.
Despite being allergic to cats, Labrenz has a soft spot for cats. She had adopted Charles, but he died in June 2017, leaving the woman with intense heartache. Labrenz opted to adopt two cats, Lucaas and Earl, from Best Friends Animal Society during Kitten Season because her goal has always been to save lives. She emphasized that fostering helped reduce euthanizing and opened up shelters to other animals that needed the care.
The cat café opened its doors in February 2018, and by May 2018, CatCafe Lounge had grown to have a minimum of 30 adoptable cats at any time. According to NBC Los Angeles, the humans walk into the café and have coffee and snacks while interacting with the pets. The cats are sourced from neighboring shelters, and humans are allowed to cuddle with them in the lounge where the cats roam freely. Should you have a connection with any of the cats, you can take them home after paying an adoption fee of $75 that caters for spaying, neutering, microchipping, adoption kit, and food.
Building the Catio was Not an Easy Task
Running the non-profit has been challenging; therefore, even though she had planned to have the catio built by summer 2018, there were delays. Among the frustrations that Labrenz had to deal with were a landlord and tenant who proved unreasonable. The cat café founder explained that the tenant ended up leaving them stranded; the tenant who lived below the cafe had the utilities cut off and, worse, was busted for not having the permits.
For five months, Labrenz went back and forth with the landlord and tenant, and since she was not economically well-off at the time, she could not file a lawsuit. The landlord took advantage of this and kept pestering her, yet Labrenz was constructing the cat cafe and had spent a fortune. In the long run, she did not have a choice but to make few concessions, among which was building the cat café catio. She was hopeful that they would resume construction and then begin building the catio and complete it by summer 2018. Before then, the guests would have to play and snuggle with the kitties in the lounge that houses a 10-foot chandelier tree and birch forest.
The Catio Finally Opened
CatCafe Lounge announced that the catio is now open. The news hit the headlines on May 23, 2021, and they are strict about adhering to the COVID-19 safety protocols. Currently, the cafe side of the cat café is closed, but guests are free to take to-go prepared snacks. You must also make a reservation before going to the café since occupancy has been reduced to adhere to the LA Health Department requirements. Also, you must wear a mask when visiting the establishment and note that they will check if it meets the County’s requirements; if not, you will be required to adjust it or buy another one at the café, for $2.
With the need to adhere to the 6-feet social distancing rule, the catio could not have come at a better time. Since it is outside in an enclosed patio, the catio enables the guests to have more room to interact with the pets without putting themselves at risk. All the same, if you have allergies or your home is not pet-friendly, you could still contribute to the welfare of the cats by donating whatever amount you can afford.
What You Need to Know about Catios
According to Catio World, catios are outdoor cat enclosures that aim to provide mental stimulation and fresh air to felines. The article delves into the different types of catios, emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all. The size usually depends on certain factors, including the number of cats your need to house and the size of the patio available. Of course, the larger the catio, the more it costs. For instance, a large and cozy catio could go for as high as $5,000, which makes you understand why Labrenz had to postpone its construction given that she was running short of cash.
Although building your own catio instead of buying a catio kit or hiring a skilled carpenter will save you money, you should note that the material you use must withstand different elements. If you prefer wooden catios, check to see you buy high-quality lumber; the most recommended is one that has been pressure-treated and is non-toxic. Wood is much more durable than a window-grade screen that will fall apart because it can’t bear a few scratches from your furry friends. All in all, the depth of pockets will determine your choice, but if you want to keep your pets safe and still give them enough room to play and breathe fresh air, fencing will do.