Kitty Cafe helps raise funds for shelter animal vet costs

Tux, an eight year-old male lounges at the Shelter Hope Pet Shop's Cat Cafe at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Sunday morning. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Pet lovers of all ages crowded into Shelter Hope Pet Shop on Sunday afternoon to snuggle with some furry feline friends as the nonprofit held its first Kitty Cafe event. 

After she noticed something similar in Los Angeles, Cindy Josten, a supervising volunteer at Shelter Hope who specializes in working with cats, thought of an event for cats to wander the store. Josten wanted to hold the Kitty Cafe as a fundraiser to help offset the cost of veterinary bills for the cats, as well as encourage more adoptions and free space to rescue more cats. 

Shelter Hope let many of its cats freely wander the store, with the gate closed to prevent the felines from getting lost. The free event, which did ask for donations, offered coffee and baked goods to guests. 

Though she worked with Shelter Hope for the past three years, Josten said she was encouraged by the large attendance and enthusiastic reception to the event.

“I realized that there are a lot more people who care about animals than I realized, which is a blessing to me,” she said. “Sometimes you feel like you’re alone in rescue [work] and that nobody cares, but I look around today and there are all there people here who care.”

Josten said that when she started working with animals, cats were not as popular to have as pets, but she has noticed a recent reversal of that trend. 

“People have voices and choices, but animals have none,” Josten said. “I’ve always been for the underdog. I worked with cats even before it became cool because I noticed everyone only wanted dogs and no one wanted to take care of the cats.”

Lisa Chicas, who visited Santa Clarita from Maryland, walked by the Shelter Hope and immediately felt like she had to pay the cats a visit.

“This is such a cool event and I love cats,” Chicas said. “I’ve had cats since I was a little girl. They’re a great pet because they are a bit more low maintenance than dogs so that might be  why they’re becoming more popular now. Also I think the younger generation is cool with the apathetic cat demeanor.

Roberta Haddock brought her grandson Ryan to the event. One of his favorite activities is being around cats.

“Ryan is autistic, so being around cats calms him,” she said. “We come here every month and when we do, they usually don’t let us touch the animals, so it was nice to come in here and interact with the cats.”

Lindsay Scanlan, another Shelter Hope volunteer, said events like the Kitty Cafe help promote visibility for animals in need in Santa Clarita.

“It calls the community to come see the animals in need and creates its own community and opportunity for cat lovers,” Scanlan said. “It’s also a great opportunity for people who have never owned a cat before to see what it’s like.”

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