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Cat Café in Heights receives $25K grant from ASPCA

COVID-19 has severely impacted feline adoption haven

January 12, 2021 Adelia Honeywood Harrison
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Brooklyn Cat Café in Brooklyn Heights, operated by the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, has received a $25,000 grant from the ASPCA as part of the national Relief and Recovery Initiative, which provides funding for animal welfare organizations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Brooklyn Cat Café, at 76 Montague St., initially closed when the pandemic hit, but reopened with limited hours in the fall. It’s a place where people looking to adopt a cat can come, relax, have coffee or tea (at least  when indoor dining is permitted), play with the cats and make their decisions. 

Contrary to what some people might think, it’s not place that people can take their cats to play with others, nor it is a place to drop off stray and other unwanted cars.

The new grant will help Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition (BBAWC) fund essential lifesaving services such as spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, veterinary care, and an expanded foster program to meet the increased need for cat rescue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cats on the bar “ask” a patron at the Brooklyn Cat Café for treats.
Photo by Alexandra Steedman

“When we had to close Brooklyn Cat Café to the public due to COVID-19 we lost 85 percent of the income that funded our rescue work,” said Anne Levin, executive director of BBAWC. “At the same time, the number of cats needing help doubled and costs nearly quadrupled. 

“ASPCA’s grant is helping us to bridge the gap during this crisis, allowing us to pay for spay/neuter surgeries, exams, tests, vaccines and often extensive veterinary care to meet the demands of increased intake and prepare cats for fostering and adoption,” she said.

“In addition to the unprecedented challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created for people, it is also putting animals at risk by straining essential owner and shelter resources,” said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker.

“Considering the vital role pets play in our lives – especially in times of crisis and stress – it’s extremely important to safeguard their welfare as much as we can, and we are grateful to the animal welfare community for stepping up, thinking creatively and courageously, and forging new paths to meet this need,” he said.

Bay, before adoption. Photo: Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, Inc.

A silver lining to the pandemic was an explosion of interest in fostering and adopting. When the pandemic shutdown prevented volunteers from coming to care for cats on-site, BBAWC expanded its foster program, quadrupling its capacity. Over 1,100 cats went through BBAWC’s foster network in 2020. In 2021, BBAWC will apply ASPCA grant funds towards veterinary care for foster animals, as well as staff, services and supplies to support volunteer fosters.

Among BBAWC’s 2020 fosters were cats like Bay, found hobbling on the street in search of food on a fractured, ulcerated and infected leg. He was dirty, scared and in pain. Bay received emergency amputation surgery and turned out to be a gorgeous, affectionate cat who is now thriving in a safe and loving home.

Brooklyn Cat Café was established in 2016, and is one of the only cat cafes in the country operated as a nonprofit rescue organization. It is currently open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m., by reservation only.

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