Catalina, an animal advocate and artist from Buenos Aires, started Cat Therapy with her husband Marek who is an entrepreneur from Santa Cruz.
"I have always been an animal lover. My best friend has a farm in Argentina and my favorite thing in the world was to spend all day with the horses, cats and dogs the property had. When I moved to California, it was only natural for me to immediately catch an interest in the amazing rescue organizations we have in Santa Barbara. I began volunteering at ResQcats three years ago, a non profit organization that rescues stray and abandoned cats and kittens. I learned so much about cats there, and the idea that I wanted to pursue a career that involved helping rescued animals became clearer and clearer as time went by. Working as a photographer for two amazing business women also sparked an interest in entrepreneurship. Last year I turned 25 and two things were clear to me: I wanted to start my own business, and I wanted to help animals in need. But how in the world do you put those two things together?! One day I was scrolling through my phone and I found an article about cat cafes on Buzzfeed and I knew that was exactly what I needed to do. My husband's business experience brought him to get curious about this most peculiar idea, and together we made Cat Therapy happen!"
Cat Therapy is completely family operated - it's just Catalina, her husband, and their 5 daughters who work together.
"Cat Therapy is our home, we feel it and the cats feel it too. That is something that translates into our visitor's experience. Also, we know Cat Cafe's are something very new and exciting, but we don't want people to visit once and not come back. We want our visitors to become friends and come back again, that is why you will find our entry fee, drinks and merchandise very affordable. We also offer discounts for students and memberships to allow people to visit us regularly. Lastly, our interior design and cleanliness are something that definitely sets us aside."
About the cafe:
When asked about the typical experience of a visitor, Catalina explained how excited visitors become upon entering the space.
"One of my favorite things about working at Cat Therapy is to see people's reactions when they first come in through the door. There's always a smile and people are trying to contain their excitement, it is cat heaven really. First thing people notice is how calm and relaxed the cats look, how good the environment smells (yep, even with 17 cats), and how cute the decor is. After checking them in and taking their drink orders, we give people a quick rundown of the cats to improve their experience. Then, it's really cute how everyone starts noticing how there's cats everywhere: Up on shelves, inside little kitty cubbies, napping on the rugs or waiting next to the toys basket for someone to play with them, it's hard to know where to start! Another really incredible thing about a cage free environment like ours, is to see how not only every cat has a unique personality, but they react differently to people. Each visit is different, and there's always special moments when a shy cat will enjoy sitting on someone's lap, or a lazy cat will begin playing with a certain person. We love seeing how people start loosening up during their time with the cats, and by the end of the reservation they've usually lost track of time, and made quite a few new furry friends. Cats really are therapeutic!"
Cat Therapy aims to be a second home to all animal lovers in the area. They've established amazing relationships with the local shelters growing, and their adoption numbers continue to increase. They plan to open a second location in a few years
"We adore this concept and the support we've been getting from our community has been incredible."
How to Visit:
The best way to schedule a visit is to go online to the Cat Therapy website
. Reservations are recommended, but not required. If you're around the area and want to pop by, they always take walk-ins if there's space. They also have a cat themed gift store that you can visit without paying the entry fee or making a reservation. Just pop in, get a free peek at the cats, and shop for super cute gifts!
How you can help:
Visiting and experiencing Cat Therapy first hand is the best way to help. Following the cafe on Social Media (Facebook and Instagram as @cattherapysb
) and spreading the word with friends and family is also an amazing way to support their cause. They also have a cat themed online gift store
, so anyone can visit and shop for fun things and they ship all over the country.