The felines are feeling the love at the Brooklyn Cat Café, as the beloved organization has gotten a hefty grant from the state to help expand the space.
The cherished Brooklyn Heights rescue and adoption center will be taking over the formerly-residential space above its Montague Street storefront to make extra room for its rescue cats and make life more fun for their four-legged friends waiting for their fur-ever homes.
A just-awarded $165,000 grant from the state’s Companion Animal Capital Projects fund, which aims to improve animal welfare across New York, will cover half the cost of the expansion.
On May 22, the café started a campaign to match that $165,000 grant with donations from supporters.
“The new space will provide shelter cats that cannot be housed in Brooklyn Cat Café’s main space with better enrichment and more opportunities to socialize with people, leading to quicker adoptions and increasing our ability to rescue other cats waiting for intake,” said Anne Levin, executive director of the Brooklyn Cat Café, in a statement.
Once finished, the second-floor expansion will house a for-rent event space, an outdoor “catio,” and rooms for cats who can’t live with the general population downstairs: a nursery room for kittens and nursing mothers, a room for adult cats who don’t thrive in the café, and the city’s first dedicated space for kitties with the contagious feline leukemia virus, or FeLV.
Since 2007, the cat bistro’s parent organization, the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, has rescued more than 7,000 cats and built up a huge network of foster homes.
For many felines and potential pet parents, the Cat Café is a comfortable, easy place to get to know each other.
Cats spend their days roaming the room, meeting and showing off their personalities to adopters — but also have plenty of space to play together, nap, and ignore humans if they so choose.
But some cats just don’t do well in that environment, explained Adelia Honeywood Harrison, the non-profit’s grants and outreach manager. Shy cats might spend their days hiding away from visitors and staff alike, and cats with FeLV must be housed away from other cats to prevent spread.
Right now, those cats are housed separately from the café kitties, usually in foster homes, and there’s no good way for interested adoptees to meet them — which reduces their chances of getting adopted.
“Our current space doesn’t allow the public to meet leukemia positive cats or many single adult cats,” said Julia Rosenfeld, the organization’s Managing Director of Rescue. “People will be able to play with these cats on a sunny outdoor catio, or in a spacious new event space, and hopefully take home a feline friend they might not have considered before.”
The expansion will make life better for cats in shelters and, hopefully, shorten the length of time each one remains at the café — a priority for the state and the capital fund grants.
“The less time a cat stays in a shelter, the better,” Honeywood Harrison said.
While the café’s feline residents currently enjoy a bustling view of the city from the café’s large front windows, the new secure outdoor catio in the back of the second floor will let them really explore freely. The grant will also allow the café’s low-cost veterinary clinic —which offers low-cost pet care to rescuers and low-income pet owners — to expand and purchase new supplies and equipment.
Though the state grant is a boon, it’s not the end of the story – the café still has to raise an additional $165,000 in order to fully fund the expansion. To meet the stipulations of the grant, construction has to start by August — so the organization needs some support from the local cat-loving community.
As of May 22, the fundraiser has amassed just over $3,000 from 31 donors. Donations are accepted online — and the café also offers some fuzzy fundraising opportunities, like a $100, one-hour “Private Kitten Party” and the upcoming Feline Film Festival.
“It’s all going toward the expansion of the café, and the care of our cats,” Honeywood Harrison said.
Correction: This story previously misstated the number of cats rescued by the Brooklyn Cat Café as 700, not 7,000. We regret the error.