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We are a family-owned and operated local business dedicated to rescuing cats from euthanasia and offering experiences where you can play with them in a lovely space we’ve designed ourselves. Our downtown Santa Barbara space is a cage-free foster home to 15-20 cats that comfortably live there until they’re adopted. Since opening our unique concept almost three years ago, we’ve helped rescue and find homes for more than 500 cats. 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. Our only source of funding comes from charging an entry fee to come visit our cage-free cat sanctuary, where people can enjoy the funny antics cats are known for in a visually pleasing space.
After the official announcement that businesses where people gather had to close to the public, I (like many other business owners) had to get creative about transferring our experience online to continue generating funds, reframe my employees daily duties, and continue caring for our cats and promote them for adoption. I have a team of five amazing women; their employment is my responsibility. I also have many rescued cats that I’ve committed to caring for, and I do not want to give them up. Our ability to house them means there’s space at our rescue partner’s headquarters to rescue other cats from euthanasia. Kitten season is just starting; cats still need saving. We built this business with love, and we’re not going to give it up.
We sent a heartfelt message to the Cat Therapy’s followers last week asking for contributions and purchases of gift cards. And we officially launched a line of merchandise through our online store. Merchandise sales from our online store are now our sole source of income, and it’s allowing us to maintain the downtown space we’ve created, continue caring for our cats, and keep our team on staff.
The community’s support has been incredible and we’ve been getting many orders from people wanting to wear our comfy T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other items while they’re at home or gift them to their friends. We’ve also been able to continue promoting adoptions.
We are encouraging people to message us at firstname.lastname@example.org if they want to take this time to acclimate a new cat to their home. We have a COVID-19 safe protocol for adoptions where we chat about personalities over the phone and video, and we have flexible foster-to-adopt policies so you can get to know the cats at home. Just in the past 10 days, Cat Therapy has been able to facilitate 15 adoptions this way.
In my opinion, the past several weeks have been even more challenging for small businesses 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 virus and bacteria aren’t covered. Local business’s budgets are usually very tight, making it difficult to add a disaster loan payment to 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 because the consequences of the shutdowns will most likely be seen for the rest of this year.
We will do everything in our power to continue operating for the sake of our cats and our team. We’re also working on ways we can bring some entertainment to your home like online streamed events involving our cats and kittens.
If you can help your local businesses, please do. We know this is a tough time for everyone. We need to support each other as a community now more than ever.
If you’d like to learn more or support Cat Therapy and shop online, you can do so here: www.cattherapysb.com.