Javier Negrete said his life changed when he rescued his cat, Kermit, from the animal shelter in Mission Hills seven years ago.
At the time, Negrete was going through therapy and had just begun to tell his family about abuse he had suffered as a child. While therapy offered him the confidence to open about his experience, once he gave Kermit his forever home, Negrete realized his furry friend offered him something impossible anywhere else.
“A therapist would always say the right things and the good things that you always want to hear. But Kermit was just a great listener,” said Negrete. “He’s a chatterbox and he meows back after a conversation. He just really helped really understand that, without any judgment, you were able to just share with like, a friend.”
Negrete said the advice to adopt a cat came from his mom after he was finally able to talk about his experiences. Since adopting Kermit, things have only gotten better and an Instagram page dedicated to Kermit now has more than 250,000 followers.
Negrete had never owned a cat and didn’t know what to expect, but after seven years with Kermit he realized the experience was something that could help others. That’s when Negrete and others came up with the idea – why not open a cat cafe in Santa Clarita?
“I definitely think a cat cafe was always in the back of my head and I always wanted to have everyone else to experience adopting a cat or even hanging out with a cat, if they can’t own one, but can always come to the cafe and hang out with cats or even adopt one,” said Negrete.
A cat cafe is a quaint and cozy space that sometimes serves coffee and is totally occupied by cats — which are usually up for adoption. People can come in, hang out and lounge with felines for as long as they’d like, but they usually charge by the hour.
This was something Negrete dislikes about current cat cafes — he thinks they’re overpriced. Some Cafes charge up to $70 an hour. One of the things he and others are trying to do is create something more affordable.
“I want people to see cats in a whole new light. Cats usually get a reputation for being stubborn ones, the ones that scratch you for no reason that are just very chaotic,” said Negrete. “But if you really spend the time with them and you would be so dedicated to getting a cat, it can change your life and I really want them to see cats in a whole new setting where they can be very loving and very trusting.”
This is the aim of Negrete’s cat cafe project, which has recently set up a GoFundMe to get to the $50,000 goal needed to open one up in Santa Clarita. Negrete argues there’s a market for one in the area, too, with the closest one being in West Hollywood. Currently the project has raised $1,555.
Another reason for opening up the cafe is alleviate the stress put on local animal shelters. Since the pandemic, animal shelters have been at capacity — including the Castaic shelter, which was “busting at the seams” in November.
“Help the shelters out by being able to foster the cats where they can have a temporary home and being able to find their next person who can adopt them,” said Negrete. “All of our cats will be ready for adoption.”
To check out the cat cafe’s GoFundMe page, visit bit.ly/3WUwP2L.