Friday, July 14, 2017

A Purrfect Pet Project – Cat Therapy Santa Barbara

Catalina and Snow
I'm not being catty but Cat Therapy is the only cat café between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Owner Catalina Esteves (yes that's her real name, yes I understand the irony) is originally from Argentina but moved to Santa Barbara with a crazy idea, to help adult cats get adopted. You book a reservation to hang out with the cats, make friends, play, let them sit on you, read, you can even have a party and book out the room. You can order food or drinks from a restaurant across the street (Brasil Arts Café, and the food will be brought to you) and de-stress…however no one will pet you – all combing is for kitties.

Maggie...with an attitude
Opened in May 2017 this former yoga studio now houses typically around 14 cats, oh and they do offer a cat yoga class. Catalina had this crazy idea and spoke to the mayor, from there on the City was really helpful, probably because nothing like this had been done before. It’s the perfect way to spend some time in Santa Barbara. Cat Therapy partners with the Animal Shelter Assistance Program, the Ventura County Animal ServicesShelter, and ResQCats.

“We help adult cats get adopted,” Catalina tells me and they've had 16 adoptions since they opened less than two months ago. One cat recently adopted had a bunch of cat-ostrophic strikes against it; it was a senior cat, it was black, it was half deaf and had no tail. How difficult would it be for this cat to find a new home if it sat in a shelter? Here the cats roam freely, some more social than others, but the freedom to move unfettered allows them to be more who they are, and as you interact with them, you might be drawn to a specific feline.

My boys, Toby and Jasper
So, why exactly do people come here, I ask? “There are three reasons. One, is people who are actively looking to adopt a cat. The second is for people who can't have a cat perhaps because of where they live (rental restrictions, other animals) or allergy considerations of a loved one.” And third she says, well some people just love to hang out with animals. As the proud owner of two cats (Jasper and Toby) and an animal lover, I get this. But I also wonder about the stereotype, you know, the crazy cat lady syndrome. But Catalina tells me a group of guys recently stopped in and were somewhat mesmerized. In fact a couple that was there when I visited owned four cats but made a point of coming here, and visiting animal shelters to give love and attention to other cats.

To be clear they are not sales people, so if you happen by and they ask if you’d like to come in you will not be given a cat and told to pay up. Besides, there’s no handle on the front door, so you can’t gain access unless they let you in. All cats have current shots and are up to date health-wise, and ready to head home with you. If not, the place is sterilized after each group visits and though there are rugs, the floors are concrete so there’s less dander build up if you’re sensitive. Yes, Cat Therapy makes me happy – anytime humans come into contact with animals and have a positive e experience it makes us humans better. After all, human or animal, we all live to the level that we are loved. “When you witness an adoption it's a very emotional thing, we are a place for all animal lovers,” Catalina says.