When Ryan Shea lost her beloved pet cat in 2017, she began volunteering at local animal rescues and shelters to help cope with her loss. Much to her surprise, the shelters were completely inundated with homeless cats, most of which are confined to cages or small enclosed rooms. Shea believed that given the chance to roam free and socialize with other cats and humans, homeless kitties would have a greater chance of finding a forever home.
Working as a registered nurse for the past 10 years, Shea decided it was time to hang up her scrubs and open the Shabby Tabby Cat Café in Sayville.
“It’s truly amazing to see how these cats quickly become comfortable around children, adults, and other animals, an opportunity they would not typically have in a shelter setting,” Shea says. “You’ll find the outgoing ones walking the floors and for cats who need a little more acclimation time, they tend to hang out on the shelves until they reach their comfort level.”
At any given time, you’ll find approximately 25 to 35 cats at the café, all of which come from Almost Home Animal Rescue. Shea and her staff work tirelessly to make sure the transition from the rescue or foster home to the café is seamless for the animals. Any cat that requires a little extra socialization is assigned to café staff and volunteers for some extra-human time.
Serving hot and cold beverages, snacks, and desserts, the café offers the purrfect spot to chill out during the week. “People bring their laptops and do their work here,” says Shea.
Because if you have to work, why not have a cat nearby? You can also attend events on evenings and weekends such as paint night, bingo, tarot reading, wine tasting, yoga … the pawsibilities are endless.
Depending on the package you choose, you can spend anywhere from an hour to the whole day in the cat area, chatting, petting, and playing with the felines. This social setting has proven to be very successful for both the animals and potential adopters. “Since its opening in 2018, there have been 930 adoptions and continuing,” says Shea.
And now the burning question on everyone’s mind … won’t you get fur in your drink? According to Shea, the café is separate from the cat area, but it may be possible to find a little extra love in your cup.
For more information about the Shabby Tabby Cat Café, visit its website at theshabbytabbyli.com.