With the constantly increasing number of stray animals on Long Island, Ryan Shea wanted to make a difference by creating a new space for cats that are waiting to find their forever home. After volunteering at the Golden Paw Society in Huntington, she decided that she was going to open Long Island’s first cat café – The Shabby Tabby.
“Cat cafés are used so we can get more homeless cats into homes,” Shea, a native of Huntington, said. “People can come and hangout with them…. The cats are in a more relaxed environment instead of in cages.” Visitors can grab a coffee or play with their free-roaming future pets. Shea also wants to host paint nights and educational classes when it opens.
The idea for a café came to Shea after she learned about how many Long Island animal shelters need to euthanize older cats who have been up for adoption for too long. This practice is used to create more space for other cats due to constant overcrowding.
The Golden Paw Society located in Huntington Station is an open-range “un-shelter” housing about 50 cats that have been rescued from other Long Island shelters before they could be euthanized.
Eileen Osmer, president and co-founder of the Golden Paw Society, said, “The shelters are loaded and a lot of the time it’s adults [who get put down] because everyone wants kittens.”
Although she notes that it is also important to rescue kittens, the Golden Paw Society tries to give older cats a home, too, by rotating the older cats out of shelters to make more room. “Our focus really is adults and we’ve really helped make a difference with longevity in the town shelters.”
Since opening in 2012, Osmer said, “We take long-time residents.”
When Shea decided she wanted to open the café, she asked to partner with the adoption center so it is one more venue for cats to be saved. Right now, the Golden Paw Society has adoptions out of the house on 260 Broadway as well as the PetSmart in Commack and Petco in Carle Place.
“Any extra venues gives us that much more space for them,” Osmer said. “We’re envisioning this to be a really positive thing, because it’s an extra place to house 10 of our cats at any given time… and when they become adopted, we can just put in 10 more.”
Although the adoption center is only six years old, they have had a huge success rate of kitten and cat adoptions. “People every day come to adopt,” Osmer said. “Usually every month we’ll give homes to 15 to 20 cats, which is really nice.”
“We get a lot of adult cats adopted,” she added. “People come in for kittens and they adopt a cat… it’s a beautiful thing.”
When Ryan came up with the Shabby Tabby idea just three months ago, she quickly gained a huge following of support. The café has over 600 likes on Facebook and is very active on Instagram. Last month, she partnered with Dominique Maciejka of the local Paper Doll Curiosity shops to host two Pop-Up Kitten Parties as fundraisers.
On Saturday, the Golden Paw Society brought a dozen kittens of all shapes and colors to the Paper Doll Curiosity Shoppe in Huntington. Guests were able to walk in, cuddle, pet and adopt the babies from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. while supporting the cause. They hosted raffle gift baskets and the proceeds went to the Shabby Tabby Café kickstarter.
Maciejka, owner of the Paper Doll stores in Sayville, Patchogue and Huntington Village, is an animal lover who wanted to support another small business
“We’re so happy to support the Shabby Tabby Café,” she said. “It’s such a fulfilling, but unique cause and I hope to have Ryan as a neighbor, soon.” Maciejka ended up adopting a little black kitten who she fell in love with that day.
Osmer said that rescuing is positive for all parties involved. “When you are adopting a cat from a shelter, you are rescuing more than one life… You’re rescuing that life and the life of another cat who can now take that spot.”
Set to open in August, the cat café should have a great outcome. “That’s one more benefit that we’re hoping we can get from the Shabby Tabby Café,” Osmer said. “More space because now we can rescue more.”
Shea is still in talks with different locations to house the Shabby Tabby Café,specifically in Patchogue or Huntington. More information will be announced, soon, she said.