Library to host Strathmore’s first cat café

The Strathmore Municipal Library is partnering with the Happy Cat Society to host the first cat café in Strathmore.

Carmen Erison, assistant director of library services, said the idea was brought up between the two organizations several years ago after learning of a similar event hosted in Lethbridge.

“We are partnering with Happy Cat Sanctuary mainly because they are providing the cats. When I met with Michele (Shave) she explained that there are quite a few new kittens that arrived a few months ago, which will be ready for adoption around November,” said Erison. “We figured it was the best time for people to be able to come out, see the cats and possibly adopt. But of course, if you’re not interested in adopting, you’re welcome to visit as well.”

According to Erison, the idea was barred from being hosted at the Strathmore Library due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will be operated solely out of the library’s program room, in an effort to be conscious of those who may have cat allergies. The room will effectively split in half – one half for the cats and the other with tables for snacks and refreshments.

Erison added the café event is being funded by the Alberta Rural Mental Health Project through the Strathmore Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).

The grant is covering the snacks and drinks that will be offered to the public free of charge on site.

“We are calling it a cat café, but really you don’t need to come and purchase anything. You can come by and simply enjoy the cats. That being said, we are going to be accepting donations for Happy Cat Sanctuary,” said Erison. “They are very much in need of support from the community, as they are always working with the cats in the community. They will also be selling things like t-shirts and such during the café.”

Erison did not give an exact count of how many cats will be visiting the library over the duration of the café but did explain some may be rotated in and out from visitation so as to not stress them out.

The event will also act as an excellent opportunity for visitors to speak with the folks with Happy Cat Sanctuary about how best to look after a new cat, should they decide to adopt.

“It is going to be a drop-in … but we are going to try to limit how many people are visiting at a time. We don’t want this to be a stressful experience for the animals,” explained Erison. “People will be welcome to come into the program room and sit at tables and enjoy snacks, but it will be limited for people who are actually going in to play with the cats … we don’t want it to be like a petting zoo type of experience.”

Should the café be a success, Erison said it is something the library may look to set up potentially as frequent as once a month, but a final decision has yet to be made.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 5. Anything with fabric will be removed from the program room and a thorough sterilization will be completed following the event.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times