Cat Cafe Gets Funding To Help With Pandemic Surge In Demand For Cats

Cafe cats by the window. By Alexandra Steedman.

Thanks to a generous grant, Brooklyn Cat Cafe will be able to help more delightful felines get treatment and find forever homes.

The Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition (BBAWC), which operates the popular Brooklyn Cat Cafe, announced today that they have received a $25,000 grant from the ASPCA that will help with expenses in this time of need.

The Brooklyn Cat Cafe opened in February of 2019 in Brooklyn Heights and functions as a community space in which visitors can interact with and tend to cats, all while helping fund the organization. The Cat Cafe is a cafe, and purchases of food and beverages go towards funding the rescue efforts of BBAWC, in addition to funds raised through donations.

Wesley Crusher and Worf, 2 months old. By the Brooklyn Cat Cafe.

Once the pandemic hit in March, Cat Cafe had to close to in-person visits, losing 85 % of the revenue to fund their work in the process, Adelia Honeywood Harrison, manager of BBAWC told Bklyner. According to Honeywood Harrison, organizations such as the BBAWC account for at least a third of rescue efforts in the city.

The cats residing at the Cat Cafe were moved to foster homes, expanding the network rapidly to care from 800 to more than 1,300 cats. However, adopting an animal is very much an in-person process, and while those looking to adopt were able to view pictures and videos of foster cats online, it’s just not the same as meeting them in person at the Cat Cafe.

Acorn, 3 months old. By the Brooklyn Cat Cafe.

Despite this, almost three times more cats were able to find their forever homes during the quarantine period. In 2020, BBAWC was able to make 1,021 adoptions, compared to the 430 they facilitated the year prior.

“One silver lining to the pandemic is that interest in adoptions and fostering has exploded,” said executive director Anne Levin. “The ASPCA’s grant allows Brooklyn Cat Café to rescue more cats to take advantage of this promising trend. Without this funding, we would not be able to help as many cats.”

The adoption of Rusty Black the cat. By Adelia Honeywood.

One of the cats fostered in 2020, Bay, was found in the street with a fractured and infected leg, hungry and scared.

After being treated by the organization, he was adopted and now lives in a happy, secure, home. There are other cats within the organization’s network, that once rescued, need treatment and care until, they too, are adopted by a loving family.

Stilgar and Thufir Hawat, 4 months old. By the Brooklyn Cat Cafe.

While increased demand for pets was a positive development, it also meant that there was increased pressure on the BBAWC and like organizations to accommodate, which is difficult to do without proper funding as all cats require vaccination and medical treatment before they can be fostered and adopted.

The grant will allow BBAWC to do just that. The cafe began to host a pop up low-cost clinic that does spay and neuter surgeries every couple of weeks since opening up again in the fall and hopes one day to be able to offer free services again.

“Considering the vital role pets play in our lives – especially in times of crisis and stress – it’s extremely important to safeguard their welfare as much as we can,” said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker.

The Brooklyn Cat Cafe opened up again last fall, but with limited hours and just some of the many cats available for adoption. Visitors must make reservations ahead of time and can only come in on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between the hours of 12 and 7 pm.

A flier posted to the Brooklyn Cat Cafe website.

This award is part of the ASPCA’S Relief and Recovery Initiative, whose mission is to provide $4 million of funding to animal welfare organizations that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are honored and grateful to be selected for this COVID Relief grant from the ASPCA in a very competitive process for limited funds,” said Levin.

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