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Chicago's First Cat Cafe Is Finally Opening This Month, At Tree House's New Shelter

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 11, 2017 8:24PM

Tree House Humane Society's long-in-the-works, multi-million-dollar shelter facility is finally just about ready to officially open—and when it does, so too will the city's first, much-anticipated cat cafe(!).

The new shelter and adoption center (7225 N. Western Ave.)—billed as the largest cat-focused one in Illinois—celebrates its grand opening weekend on Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29. A ribbon cutting is slated for Friday morning, 10 a.m., at the new grounds, in West Ridge, with a public grand opening on Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m. The cafe will open in tandem with the overall grand opening, on Friday, July 28.

As we first learned last year, the cafe will be on the first floor of the large-scale shelter complex. You can grab a Royal Cup tea or coffee (hot or iced), then head over to the neighboring sitting room, where you can hang out and get to know some adoptable furry ones, while also getting your caffeine buzz. Cat Cafes have been popular in New York and other cities for a while now, but the Tree House space will mark the concept's overdue arrival in Chicago.

In the future, Tree House will ask visitors to make appointments for designated timeframes, according to Debbie Hinde, director of development. Until that structure is set up, staff will closely monitor the cafe to make sure the little ones aren't getting overstimulated. Visiting times therefore may be shorter right at the outset, Hinde said.

The long-awaited Cat Cafe is essentially one of the shelter's 11 colonies where adoptable cats are kept, Hinde said. Some are grouped by specialty, including a colony for kittens, one for cats with sight issues, another for cats with hearing issues and a senior-cat colony. There will also be so-called catios (outdoor cat patios) where the animals can get some air.

The 15,000-square-foot shelter also includes a "state-of-the-art" veterinary clinic—with a high-tech digital imaging machine and specialized medical equipment—to make sure each cat that reaches the door is quickly cared for, Hinde said.

"We're really excited," Hinde said. "Tree House has been in business of helping cats for 45 years; and [the shelter] offers us an opportunity to do more and diversify what we do. We're very excited about getting the community involved."

Correction: The Tree House address is 7225 N. Western Ave., not 225 N Western, as originally written.