Skyler Melnick

“Are you a cat or a dog person?” This is the ultimate, divisive, and eternal question.

For dog people, UCSB has its much-anticipated Dog Therapy Days, and dogs are generally always trotting along on campus and in Isla Vista. But what about cat people? Do they just have to lie around on their twin XL beds missing their far away kitties or fruitlessly dreaming about playing with cats they don’t have? The solution for cat people is finally here: come May 29th, Cat Therapy SB will give cat lovers their purring, fuzzy fix.

The creation of Santa Barbara’s cat cafe can be attributed to Catalina Esteves, animal lover and frequent volunteer with local shelter ResQcats. Following much contemplation about how to turn her passions into a profession, she was inspired to open up a cat cafe after stumbling upon a Buzzfeed video covering the subject. Seven months later, Cat Therapy SB was born.

Cat cafes have been popular in countries like Japan and China since 1998; now North America is finally catching on. Cat cafes combine the joys of tasty coffee shops with the therapeutic essence of unwinding and meeting new feline friends. Cat Therapy SB joins the two dozen cat cafes present here in the U.S.

Esteves cites the fact that “this had never been done before in town” and that she had to “work closely with the city” as the main difficulty in making her dream a reality. When Esteves pitched the idea, the “shelters were excited.” A major aspect of the cat cafe’s mission is to help shelters (Animal Shelter Assistance Program [ASAP], Ventura County Animal Services, and ResQcats) empty out cages to allow more space for helpless kitties.

In addition to providing temporary homes for cats, Santa Barbara’s cat cafe provides a place of organic, cageless bonding where the cats can “let their personalities shine” and connect with visitors looking to adopt. Cat Therapy SB seeks to create a space for people who are unable to own cats, are missing their own cats, or simply need some cat loving.

Esteves points out that cats don’t need the company of people; they are independent creatures. Despite this, cats still seek human contact and love. Cat Therapy SB offers a variety of friendly felines of all sorts of breeds and personalities. There’s the thoughtful and pensive Dusk, Dusk’s cuddly sibling, Twilight, the grumpy Willow, Empurress, the rightfully named Bonkers, and many more. Cat fights are avoided by gradually introducing the kitties into the cafe space and carefully observing them to make certain they are all happy. As for the human side of things, patrons can expect nothing but love and affection from these cuddly creatures.

A reservation, which includes 75 minutes of kitty time, is $10 on weekdays and $12 on weekends. Esteves notes that visitors can also book the entire space for study groups or any type of event. Groups of up to 16 people are welcome. The price of its “75 Minutes in Feline Heaven” is $150 on weekdays and $180 during the weekends.

Depending on visit time, the cafe ambience will shift. In the morning and evening time slots, the cats will be most active and outgoing. If some laid-back cuddling is what you prefer, then the afternoon is perfect since that is when the cats are most mellow, focusing on getting their beauty rest.

Cat people, I am talking to you. This is what you have been waiting for. Sip on your almond milk mocha latte as cats nuzzle up to you, fighting for your attention. The time is now. What more could anyone ask for? Cat Therapy SB: where cat heaven is just a reservation away.

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