Deep-dish pizza and Wrigley Field may be the way to many Chicagoans’ hearts, but for Chris Gutierrez and Shelly Casey, it’s seeing the world, introducing their furry friends to other loving humans, and helping them find forever homes.
Throughout their travels, Gutierrez, a writer, and Casey, a hairstylist, have done extensive research on cat cafés, DNAinfo reports. They’ve made it their mission to understand how shop owners in other countries keep their cats comfortable and prepare them for adoption.
“We went to Amsterdam, to Tijuana, like where people go for hookers and cocaine — and we were like, ‘Um, can we go to your cat café twice?'” Gutierrez said.
Now set to open under Chicago’s recently instituted animal café laws, the nonprofit Catcade at 1235 W. Belmont Ave. is the first of its kind in Chicago. A donation of $15 is worth a drink (bottled water, soda, coffee and other packaged beverages) and an hour in the Catcade’s lounge, where “head-boops” are available in unlimited supply.
The lounge resembles a comfortable living room, Wide Open Pets reports, so potential pet parents can get to know the cats in the same type of environment they’d be bringing them home to.
When visitors have picked out a friendly feline to take home, the $15 donation is subtracted from the final adoption fee of $100.
“We’re just two cat nerds who had this passion and said, ‘What if one day we could just save cats [and] that could just be our jobs?” Gutierrez asked. “Our purpose? We want to make our corner of the world a little less s—-y.”
In the Catcade’s corner of the world, there are arcade games, movie screenings, and some hopeful animals that really just want to be loved.
“At the end of the day, it’s about cats,” Gutierrez said. “Yes, we have video games, yes it’s a theme, yes it’s funny, but at the end of the day our main goal is to re-home these cats.”
Gutierrez and Casey are focusing on helping homeless cats between 6 and 10 months old and ask visitors not to bring their own animals. There are currently 13 cats at the Catcade and no shortage of public interest in the facility. Visitors from Chicago and beyond have been stopping by to see the Catcade’s cuddly cats and even to ask for jobs, Wide Open Pets maintains.
“We’re so passionate about this. It’s been really cool to see people out there equally as passionate,” Gutierrez said.
Another organization is trying to help cats by giving them a little more room to move. Click the button below to read more about catty shacks and how they can help shelter cats thrive!
Article continues below
Our Featured Programs
See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!
Help Rescue Animals
Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free! →