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'Our hope is to be part of the community' | Sacramento's newest café could be the cat's pajamas

Founders Laura and Emalee are a mother-daughter duo who have been dreaming of opening a cat café together for the past 10 years.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento’s new Capital Cat Café will be purrfect for any and all cat lovers. 

Founders Laura Hebern and Emalee Ousley are a mother-daughter duo who have been dreaming of opening their own cat café together for the past 10 years, ever since the two went to their first cat café in Oakland.

However, they have a feline their café will be different than others. There will be two separate rooms, one for cat interactions and adoptions and the other is the café, but what's on the menu is what makes it different. The two said really value all of what Sacramento has to offer, so they would love to serve local wine and local beer and offer baked goods from local bakeries.

"So in our café, we plan on offering adult beverages and small plates," Laura said. "We're kind of looking for that crowd, that before-dinner crowd or people who just want to come and hang out with friends to just spend some time there."

According to their Facebook page, their goal with the café is to “increase the number of cats adopted in the Sacramento area while providing the community with an inviting place to socialize with the cats, a place to relax, work, and enjoy food and beverages.”

As for the vision of the café, well, Emalee has some ideas. 

"Our vision is basically large cat trees probably on the wall with some fun features," Emalee said. "Our whole theme of the café is going to be art-deco, so very avant-garde and a lot of really cool color schemes. Some chandeliers to make it kind of fun, but then it's going to be relaxing. We'll have space if you want to come and study and just sit and chill with the cats."

Now, you might think if these two are opening a café, it's paws-sible they have some experience in the restaurant industry, right? But they're not kidding when they said it's a brand new endeavor for the both of them.

Laura is a marriage family therapist by career and has mostly been in private practice for the last 25 plus years. She also worked as a mental health therapist for a local school in Sacramento. Emalee has her bachelor's degree in biotechnology and her master's degree in molecular and cellular biology, with a background in wine.

"Our hope is to be part of the community and have a comfortable environment for people just to hang out," Laura said.

The mother-daughter duo also volunteer at Front Street Animal Shelter. From that experience and through the relationships they made, they were able to create a goal-achieving partnership consisting of the cat café as an offsite foster facility. 

They said they realize overcrowding in animal shelters is a huge problem, so their overall goal is to branch out to multiple different shelters, focusing on helping cats that need to become more socialized so they'll be more adoptable.

Making sure cats get an opportunity to socialize is really important for Laura and Emalee. 

"Cats learn from the other cats and gain that trust and that socialization back so they can become these loving, caring cats," Emalee said.

But with cats come the possibility of allergies. The two said they are trying as best as they can to be safe and accommodate those who are concerned about COVID-19 and allergy precautions. In regards to COVID, they are planning on following whatever recommendations the CDC and WHO has once their location is established. 

"With allergies, the café part will have a circulation system that's not connected, so you can still be in the café," Laura said. "Part of our plan is to have nice big windows that look into the café and into the cats. We won't have any food obviously prepared or anything in the cat room, it'll all be separated in our permitted kitchen and our café." 

Laura and Emalee have already gotten the word out about their soon-to-open café all the way in Orangevale after their first pop-up event at the Bow Wow Days Festival. They also plan to participate in a pop-up event at the Downtown Commons in Sacramento on Saturday, Oct. 23. 

They expect to sign a lease this week and will be announcing their location for the cat café soon. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

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