Casey Steuart, a San Antonio animal rescuer, was fed up with finding stray cats alone in parking lots and abandoned buildings. So, on National Cat day of last year, Steuart opened the first San Antonio Cat Cafe located behind the NEISD bus depot. Her mission; to rescue as many cats as possible.
“I do a lot of what is called TNR; trap, neuter, return, [this] is what hopefully will help San Antonio become a no kill city,” Steuart said,” Basically [it] is finding outdoor cats that are roaming everywhere and making sure they get fixed and vaccinated, so that they cannot continue the overpopulation problem, but the problem is that every time I would do that I would find the ones that are left over, that were probably dumped somewhere and left there. There could be a lot of situations and I needed a place to house those and show those and adopt those out, so that became what this was,”
Opened from 10 am – 6 pm Sunday through Thursday and 10 am – 10 pm Friday through Saturday, the cats in the cafe are open for adoption and can be visited any day of the week.
“At the moment 53, but it kind of fluctuates. It can be anywhere between 27 to 50 something,” Steuart said,” 27 was our lowest starting amount and then it kind of fluctuates and goes up and down with adoptions, so [on] weekends we can get several adoptions happening, but they don’t always take them that weekend because you have to come and visit the cats 3 times for 3 hours and multiple visits to get to know the cat, so the adoption happens one day, but they’ll pick up a different day. It’s like a multistage process,”
The cafe offers a variety of foods and drinks all ranging from Ramen and caramel coffee.
“So each Cat Cafe is different. The name Cat Cafe is kind of the same to keep everyone familiar of the idea of cats and food together, but basically any cat cafe can offer different options as long as they have a divider between where the food is starting and where the cats are,” Steuart said,” So in our case we got a popcorn machine, nacho machine, think of like concession stand at like a ballpark meets like a concession stand at like the movie theatre, it’s kind of all that together. So some things could be heat made some thing could be like grab and go so it’s typically a lot of sweet and salty stuff and heatable stuff,”
The cafe offers special events, like Fat Cats and Yoga Mats, along with other events, such as Caturday night movies and $2 Tuesdays all to give more people time with the kittens and cats.
“We do have other events that go on occasionally; there’s maybe a Friday Game Night coming and there could be other things kinda going on that could be regularly scheduled. In the summer there will be things on cat care or trap, neuter, return, maybe we kinda have an arts and crafts thing going on, it could be all kinds of stuff,” Steuart said,”I wanna offer a TNR class to teach people how to do what I’ve been doing, but Feral Cat Coalition offers one right now, but I work with them also, but I want to be able to do the same thing that they do, but work with them so I can provide their services through here,”
The Cat Cafe also offers volunteering opportunities for all ages and experience levels.
A lot of places will say that 13 is kind of the minimum age if you were to be dropped off somewhere by a parent or something, but in this case it’s a matter of if your parents will allow you to scoop litter or if they’ll let you lift things, it kind of depends on parents at that point if you’re a minor,” Steuart said,” I mean, I have a daughter who is 8 years old and she reads to the kitties. So there’s things you can do at any age and it just becomes about what cleaning and what other products would you be able to use because they have chemicals in them or whatever and that becomes a parent issue or than a kid issue.So it doesn’t really matter,”
The San Antonio Cat Cafe, however, is not alone. The history of Cat Cafes date back to 1998 in Japan because of their large over populations problems. Since people couldn’t own their own pets, Cat Cafes opened to allow people to visit them.
“That’s the kind of opposite mission we have here, it’s like please adopt them we can’t keep them. So they had their mission of being more like a place to kind of lounge around and hang out with the cats and then go home and there was never an option to adopt, but as they spread out throughout Australia and Europe and all over the world basically, as they’ve done that it’s been more of a adoption mission everywhere,” Steuart said.
The cafe offers Cat Cafe t-shirts and mugs to spread the word about the company.
“We do have logo items and also some people bring in things that they make, like artsy crafts that’ll have our logo or other things on them. There are pendants that a lady had made from the Feral Cat Coalition that’s over there right now, that she had made some of those for us,” Steuart said.
The goal of the Cat Cafe is to give abandoned cats, like a black cat named King Henry, a new chance to find a forever home.
“King Henry [is] a huge black and white bicolor cat and he actually was in the no Crossroads parking lot (well it’s not crossroads anymore, whatever the mall is called now) and in the parking lot there for over a week, so he was dumped there because he was already neutered and he was super friendly and he was out in the super cold of January and someone was just watching him be under the cars for a week so they brought him here. So he was obviously abandoned because there are no houses right there, so someone obviously put him out of the car and drove away,” Steuart said.
Steuart’s motivation to start the cafe lies with San Antonio an animal kill state and she works with the Feral Cat Coalition to save as many cats before they can be put down.
“I have a huge problem with the amount of cats that I see that are just roaming and that are producing more cats and more kittens year after year after year knowing that they are not going to be adopted, they’re not going to be taken care of. They’re going to get squished on the highway, they’re going to end up with a bad ending and so trying to prevent all that from happening.” Steuart said.