Soon, cat lovers in Washtenaw County will have more room to roam. And roar.

Ann Arbor, MI (August 13, 2015) –  Soon, cat lovers in Washtenaw County will have more room to roam. And roar.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) will be opening a cat café this winter.  The Tiny Lions Lounge and Adoption Center does not yet have a location, but the goal is clear: to find more homes for homeless cats, to promote the human/animal bond, and continue to build a more compassionate world for our feline friends.

CatThough new to Michigan, cat cafés — coffee shops with cats roaming about — have existed since 1998, when the first one opened in Taiwan. Since then, nearly 150 of them have opened in Japan, and in 2014, “catfés” started popping up in the United States.

“We are delighted to see the popularity of the model continue to grow and feel this is a spectacular opportunity for homeless cats,” says Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV’s President & CEO.  “HSHV has a proud 120-year history of animal protection and a ten-year track record of providing innovative, award-winning services, propelled by passion, high performance and a state-of-the-art facility.  Our success has allowed us to have the highest save rate in the state and to be a model of best practices and customer service.  In particular, HSHV has had outstanding success saving the lives of cats in ways much of the rest of the shelter world is still struggling.”

“This new, exciting venture is another step in using creative, bold strategies to meet our mission. The café’s relaxed, open atmosphere will give folks a chance to consider adoption, or if they can’t adopt or have their own pets, to just enjoy their comforting companionship.  Cats are very therapeutic, and our bond with them is undeniable.  It also allows us space to expand our humane education programming aimed at teaching respect and compassion, and to demonstrate new ways to help our feline friends,” Hilgendorf says.

Cat cafés use a variety of business models— from profit to nonprofit, from food service to hourly entrance fees, from resident cats to rescue ones. HSHV’s café, like its parent humane society, will be a nonprofit organization, assisted largely by volunteers enthusiastic about finding forever homes for cats.  Support will be tax-deductible, and fees from patrons will help cover operating costs, including care for the cats until they’re adopted.

“We will likely offer some light refreshments, but we aren’t looking to compete with the many fine coffee merchants in town,” says Hilgendorf.   “Our focus is on what we do best: creating a better world for animals in need.”

“We always want to save more animals and do more for our community, but we’ve literally run out of room,” says HSHV’s Board Chair, Sharon Rothwell. “We take in over 3,000 unwanted, abused and abandoned cats in our shelter each year.  We are in need of more open, free-roaming space to help them thrive. And cats aren’t the only ones demanding this. In addition to providing an opportunity for adults to interact with — and possibly adopt — our cats, we will provide supervised, scheduled opportunities for young people as well.  Local parents have been asking us to offer more children’s programs, but we simply haven’t had the room. A cat café came up as a unique solution for an expansion that fits our mission and is a fun way to get the community more involved in animal welfare.”cat with kids

Although this has been in discussion for well over a year, Rothwell says HSHV’s board of directors and staff proceeded cautiously, wanting to complete some obligations related to the construction of HSHV’s current facility before expanding.

“None of our success is possible without our generous supporters, and we hope the community will step forward and embrace this unique venture as well,” Rothwell says.

HSHV plans to launch a “Read to Cats” after-school program for youth, in addition to using the café space for kids’ animal story time and some quiet, cat-themed birthday celebrations.

People interested in the café status can sign up for notification at www.tinylions.org.  “Furry financiers” interested in helping the Tiny Lions Lounge and Adoption Center become a reality can contact HSHV’s Development Department at 734-661-3573 or email development@hshv.org.

About The Humane Society of Huron Valley:

The Humane Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to provide critical community programs and services. HSHV is an award-winning organization, recognized for our best practices and highest animal “save-rate” among all similar shelters in Michigan. Charity Navigator, the nation’s top charity evaluator, awarded HSHV a 4-star ranking, the highest possible. The mission of HSHV is to promote the loving, responsible care of all animals in our community. HSHV is not affiliated with any other humane organization and does not receive funding from the United Way. For more information, call (734) 662-5585 or visit www.hshv.org. LOVE STARTS HERE!

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