Cat Therapy Continues to Provide for Rescue Cats During COVID-19 Shutdown

Cat Therapy Continues to Provide for Rescue Cats During COVID-19 Shutdown title=
Cat Therapy Continues to Provide for Rescue Cats During COVID-19 Shutdown
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Adoptable cats Charlotte and Olive (Photo: Cat Therapy)

By edhat staff

While the majority of businesses closed on Santa Barbara's State Street, Cat Therapy continues to provide for its rescue cats amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Cat Therapy’s founder Catalina Esteves describes how she continues to care for their cats and keep their staff employed while posting videos of their adoptable cats for those self-isolating.

As the only "cat cafe" in town, Cat Therapy helps rescue cats facing euthanasia by fostering them in a cage-free environment. Through this, they offer experiences for people to play with adoptable cats, while reading, studying, or even doing yoga. 

Their State Street location provides a home for 15 to 20 cats at a time where they can comfortably live until adoptions. Since opening three years ago, they've helped find homes for over 500 cats. 

Catalina Esteves (Photo: Cat Therapy)

“It is an innovative concept that makes animal lovers smile the moment they enter the space and it has a tangible impact in the lives of rescued cats. It’s fun for our visitors and life-saving for hundreds of cats”, said Esteves. 

Esteves says the company's only source of funding comes from charging an entry fee for guests to visit their cage-free cat sanctuary. She explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has been a bigger economic challenge than the Thomas Fire.

“During the fires, we had a precedent from the other fires in California, and we had an idea of who our enemy was and when the crisis was going to end. Also, we qualified for business interruption insurance because fire is covered under the policy. That really helped cover some expenses. Insurance companies aren’t helping us right now because shutdowns due to viruses and bacteria aren’t covered. We are all on our own this time, with no feasible help on the horizon,” said Esteves.

She proceeded to explain how local businesses’ budgets are usually very tight, making it difficult to add a disaster loan payment to their already high monthly bills. “We absolutely understand the importance of the shutdowns to ensure the health of our community. I just fear that many fellow business owners won’t be financially able to reopen after this,” said Esteves. 

Since the shelter-in-place order, Cat Therapy has gotten creative about offering services online to support her five employees and numerous rescue cats. Esteves has been asking supporters to purchase gift cards and order apparel from their newly launched online store. Merchandise sales are now the sole source of income allowing the company to maintain the downtown space for their cats and keep their team on staff. 

“The community’s support has been incredible and we’ve been getting lots of orders from people wanting to wear our T-shirts, sweatshirts and other items while they’re at home or gift them to their friends,” said Esteves.

Additionally, Cat Therapy has been able to facilitate fostering and adoptions online using a COVID-19 safe protocol. In the past five days, they have facilitated 14 adoptions. 

“We will do everything in our power to continue operating for the sake of our cats and our team. If you can help your local businesses, please do. We need our community now more than ever,” said Esteves. 

If you’d like to learn more or support Cat Therapy and shop online, you can do so here:

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