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You Need to Visit Santa Barbara’s Cat Therapy Cat Café

Santa Barbara’s first cat café experience is definitely worth a visit.

Annie Butler Shirreffs  |  Nov 22nd 2019


A couple weeks ago, my husband and I spent a few days vacationing in Santa Barbara, California. It was our first time there, so I researched fun things to do and see. When I found the Cat Therapy cat café, I knew we had to pay a visit. And, because we were away from our four cats for a few days, we were excited to get some cat cuddles.

cat therapy, cat cafe

Cat Therapy is located on historic State Street in Santa Barbara, California. Photo: Annie Butler Shirreffs

The cat café

Located just off historic State Street, Cat Therapy became Santa Barbara’s first cat café in 2017. The brainchild of Catalina Esteves, she wanted to open a business that combined her three passions in life: animals, people and charity work.

Partnering with Stray Cat Alliance, the café houses adoptable cats in its comfortable, safe and nourishing environment, drastically improving their quality of life, giving them a temporary home and providing them with the love and socialization they need while they wait to find their forever families. And 100% of the adoption fees from cats adopted at the café are donated back to the organizations the cats came from. The café also organizes fun, educational events to raise funds for its rescue partners.

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There are lots of great kitty napping spots in the cat lounge. Photo: Annie Butler Shirreffs

Here’s what you can do at Cat Therapy:

  • Cat lounge visits, where you can enjoy the loving company of anywhere from 12 to 20 free-roaming rescue cats
  • Private events like birthday parties, family gatherings and special occasions
  • Cat yoga, so you can tune up your body and mind among the adoptable cats during an all-levels yoga class led by a certified instructor
  • A cute cat-themed gift shop
  • Complimentary coffee and tea station

Because animals and commercial kitchens don’t mix, Cat Therapy partnered with Brasil Arts Café, where you can enjoy 15% off yummy treats that are safe to bring into the café (just show that you have a Cat Therapy booking coming up). Pick up your food there, then head on over to visit the cats.

Our trip

cat cafe

Cat Therapy has fun wall decor and plenty of lounging spots for the cats. Photo: Annie Butler Shirreffs

We came to the café as walk-ins (reservations aren’t required but are recommended) and were asked to come back in a couple hours, as there was a kids’ birthday party going on at the time. (Luckily, our day’s plan included wandering up and down State Street, so we had plenty to see while we waited!) We got back just as the party broke up and enjoyed seeing the smiles on those kids’ faces as they came out of the café. I wish cat cafés had been around when I was a kid!

When we got into the cat lounge, a couple of the cats came up to check us out. Most of the cats, though, lounged around on huge pillows, comfy chairs, cubby holes and wall shelves – probably worn out from the party!

The cat lounge is small but roomy, and there’s so much to take in – fun décor, cat-themed knick-knacks and comfy furniture. In a calm and relaxing atmosphere, we got plenty of cat cuddles to tide us over until we got home to our own kitties.

The cats themselves were all very calm and friendly, which is why I think cat cafés are such a great idea. Even if you’re not in a position to adopt, you help socialize the cats to make them as ready as possible for their forever homes.

Learn more at cattherapysb.com, and follow the café @cattherapysb on Instagram and Facebook.

Annie Butler Shirreffs has worked in the pet industry for 20 years and is currently the senior editor of Catster and Dogster magazines. A cat lover since she was a little girl, she has always had feline friends in her life. She and her husband share their Southern California home with their four cats and an ever-changing clowder of foster kittens, all of whom enjoy being testers for cool, new products.

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