Small business with a purrpose.
I thought I found the ultimate career when I moved to Richmond to become a court reporter in 2010. Jeff and I fell in love with the area and I was busy, busy, busy.
And then cats, of course.
I was actually Team Dog until a stray cat found my apartment and I had to keep her. (Full disclosure: I found her previous owner had kicked her out and did not want her back.) We had a rott/shepherd mix that didn’t like other animals, and I’m severely allergic to cats. I was never able to be around them as a child due to my inability to breathe when they’re in the same room as me. Effective allergy medicine is now widely available and I’m able to manage all my symptoms with a simple generic pill each day. Our dog ended up in a wheelchair and was able to co-habit with our cat without incident.
So I took in my first cat. But there were more cats. I noticed animal control showing up at the apartment complex across the street and hauling off traps with live cats in them. It broke my heart. I knew what was happening to them and their only crime was being born to a cruel world. With tears in my eyes, I found the courage to go talk to management to seek a humane solution. They agreed to let me come in and catch any cats I could get to remove from their property. They were hostile to the cats living outdoors but wanted to do nothing to prevent their residents from discarding pets like trash. Walking around during the evening, there were at least 50 cats living in a small section of the property.
I couldn’t take them all. I was fortunate enough to be the court reporter on the Susan Mills case in Henrico County Circuit Court where she won the rights of all residents of Henrico County to feed feral cats. (It took the Supreme Court of Virginia to overturn the circuit court ruling, and we’re forever grateful for her fight.) I learned of all these resources available to help feral cats and I got busy making appointments.
We took as many as we could to foster and aggressively TNR’d the whole winter. Jeff and I spent many freezing nights together with a drop trap trying to get the impossible female and/or the elusive Tom. We relocated as many cats as we could but had to release some back. At least they were no longer reproducing. Convincing Jeff I wasn’t crazy at this point was no easy job, but he quickly converted to rescue-mode and has been a partner in this all the way.
So I developed an extremely expensive cat hobby, paying thousands of dollars out of pocket each year to get stray and feral cats fixed at low-cost clinics. Through networking, we were able to get some free appointments from the RSPCA and RAL and only had to pay for vaccines and that helped tremendously. Jeff and I have spayed/neutered over 100 cats in the Richmond area and fostered hundreds more, providing food, shelter and medical care until they find loving homes.
If money were no object, what would you do with your life? Rescuing animals is my purpose and what I would do with my time if living was truly free. I know firsthand there is no money in rescue. Adoption fees don’t cover the vet bills and I’m really bad at fundraising. So when I read about a cat café coming to the US, my heart filled with joy. I love coffee. I love cats.
So this isn’t coming out of nowhere. I have experience in the food service industry, management, inventory control, retail, etc., before I went to school to become a court reporter. I’ve been self-employed most of my adult life, so this is just a new direction to focus more of my time and effort to saving lives rather than sitting behind a computer.
My life as a court reporter was meaningful and I learned a lot. I consider that a chapter I’m grateful to have experienced, but nothing beats coffee and cats and a dream.
Central Purrk has secured a location and is working on permit approval to open our doors in early 2017. We're excited to bring Richmond its first cat cafe concept and promise an unforgettable experience each visit.
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