cat cafe
Moscow cat cafe (Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty)

Santa Barbara ‘Cat Therapy’ Saves Lives of Rescue Kitties

It’s easy to coo over adoptable cats that rub up against the bars of their crates or mew invitingly, blinking at you with big old kitten eyes. But when looking for a new family pet, new adopters are rarely interested in shy cats. Some feel too shy to seek out attention, giving a disinterested look or simply sitting towards the back of their enclosures. These cats often blossom once out of the shelter environment. However, when surrounded by noise and chaos, they shrink in on themselves.

Cat Therapy, an innovative cat cafe venture, is looking to change that for as many cats as they can.

Cat Therapy for People

Despite its name, Cat Therapy isn’t a literal cat mental health venture. However, the services offered by this cat cafe do improve the lives of rescue cats and the people who visit them.

“We help them empty spaces in their foster homes or in their facilities so that they can have more room to rescue more cats that are currently in the street or that are currently in the shelter system,” said founder Catalina Esteves. “They really do choose their people and so it’s really fun to experience that.”

Adopters who frequent Cat Therapy were quick to remark on the improvement in the animals’ quality of life. “It’s night and day difference in terms of experience the cats are having. For an animal to have the space to be an animal and roam and explore and just get to be around other people and animals, it’s so much more healthy for them,” commented Melissa Galbreath, who has previously adopted Cat Therapy cats.

Since Cat Therapy opened in 2017, over 700 cats have been adopted. They attribute much of this success to providing appropriate spaces for cats to play. They can also avoid interaction when unwanted, letting them feel more confident. Additionally, visitors come away feeling relaxed, while also knowing they’ve helped socialize rescue cats before they find their forever homes.

Helping Shelter Cats on Your Own

While not all of us have the resources to open our own cat cafe, there are still things that individuals can do to help cats in need. Fostering a cat can be a literal lifesaver, particularly if you’re working with a local kill shelter. Don’t have the resources? Try volunteering, even if you’re only able to commit to a weekend or so a month. The crucial socialization provided by volunteers can give a cat the courage to approach potential owners & earn them a spot with a forever home.

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