When Kelly McConnaughey won a volunteer service award from the township of Woodbridge, NJ, she was delighted and honored. It wasn’t because of the recognition she was getting, though. It was because the celebration gave her an opportunity to share the word about her favorite cause, the Angel PAWS cat-rescue group.
"The recognition ÔÇª is certainly a great avenue to bring attention to all of our animals awaiting their forever home," she said.
But McConnaughey isn’t one to rest on her laurels. She’s already thinking of ways to raise awareness about the shelter and get people in the door — not just to adopt, but to volunteer. Her big idea right now: a cat caf├®.
She believes it would be a great tool to raise money and get the word out about Angel PAWS’ cats up for adoption.
"It also would be an avenue for getting caf├® visitors to sponsor a cat," she said. "A ‘virtual’ adoption, so to speak."
I’ve reported on cat caf├®s before. They’re a fixture in Japan and many parts of Southeast Asia, and last year a cat caf├® opened in Vancouver. If McConnaughey opens a cat caf├®, it would be the first one on the East Coast that I know about.
Considering the health regulations faced by eating establishments in the U.S., she and Angel PAWS might have a lot of work ahead of them to open a cat caf├®. It seems to me, though, that if the cats were in a room separate from food-preparation areas, people who needed a "cat fix" could easily visit them and not put the facility in violation of food safety regulations. It could be a great precedent-setter, too, allowing more U.S. cat rescue groups to showcase their charges in a comfortable atmosphere.
Angel PAWS is fortunate to have a tireless advocate like McConnaughey on its side, that’s for sure.
If there were a cat caf├® in Woodbridge, I’d have a reason to go to a state I tend to avoid. From Maine, it’s only an eight-hour drive. If McConnaughey opens her cat caf├®, would any New Englanders be up for a road trip?
Photos from Angel PAWS’ Facebook page and Petfinder listings