Manitoba

Winnipeg's cat café comes back

Winnipeg only cat café has reopened in a new location nearly a year after closing its doors.

Miss J.La's Fur Babies Cat Cafe and Adoption Centre reopens on Henderson Highway

One of several tuxedo kittens plays at Miss J.La's Fur babies Cat Cafe and Adoption Centre. (Shannah-Lee Vidal/CBC)

It's a purrfect place for cat lovers to congregate, have a snack and cuddle some kittens.

Jennifer Laferriere is getting ready to open Miss J.La's Fur Babies Cat Cafe and Adoption Centre on Henderson Highway, giving Winnipeg's only cat café its second life after it was forced to shut the doors of its original location last fall.

"It look a long time to find a good place that we were happy with," Laferriere said.

The business first opened in 2016 on Kingsbury Avenue, with Laferriere working with a local rescue group, but the café lost its lease and closed in October 2018.

At its highest capacity, more than 30 cats were at the café. Most of them were adopted out and the rest went to live with foster caregivers.

Jennifer LaFerriere holds Boston, one of the cats available for adoption through the cat café, in front of a mural painted by Rachel Lancaster. (Shannah-Lee Vidal/CBC)

"It was hard because I had to say goodbye to the cats, because they were going into foster, but a lot of them did get adopted," she said.

Since then, the cat lover has been raising money to reopen through fundraisers such as auctioning items off on Facebook.

Her wish list for a new location included a high traffic area, so people could easily find it, and lots of windows for the cats to look out.

The new storefront has a large window, where Laferriere plans to put a giant running wheel so passersby can see the kitties getting some exercise.

Cats relax among the cat trees at Miss J.La's Fur Babies Cat Cafe and Adoption Centre. (Shannah-Lee Vidal/CBC)

For an admission fee, customers can hang out at the café and play with some feline friends.

Currently, there are 11 kittens and two cats who will live at the café.

Boston, the café's one-year-old ginger kitty, is a former stray who was found in rural Manitoba.

"He meows loudly when he's hungry or when someone walks through the door," Laferriere said.

The other adult cat is Queens, who's not much bigger than a kitten. The one-year-old cat was rescued along with her litter of kittens. 

Jennifer LaFerriere is the owner of Miss J.La's Fur Babies Cat Café and Adoption Centre. (Shannah-Lee Vidal/CBC)

As much as Laferriere loves the company, she wants to see the critters gone — all of them are in need of forever homes, which is the main goal of the business.

For Laferriere, success means lots of adoptions, although the process is a bit more complicated than just ordering something off a menu.

"There is an application to fill out, and I do like to talk to people, get to know them a little. The application has to be approved."

Queens and her kittens are staying at the cat café. (Shannah-Lee Vidal/CBC)

While it's not a café in the traditional sense, there will be snacks available for purchase.

Despite the name, it's not a place where people can take their own pets to hang out.

"You can't just add a cat in the room. You might have a really nice cat that's great with other cats, but it might not work here. One of ours may not like him," Laferriere said.

"You just have to enjoy the cats that are here — and they are all up for adoption."

Winnipeg only cat cafe, Miss J.La's Fur Babies Cat Cafe and Adoption Centre, has reopened in a new location nearly a year after closing its doors. 5:54

The new location includes a splash of colour thanks to Rachel Lancaster, a local artist who donated her time to create a custom mural on the wall. 

"It's really beautiful, and it says Fur Babies Cat Cafe, so we thought that would be a great place for people when they adopt to hold their kitten for a picture."

Miss J.La's Fur Babies Cat Cafe and Adoption Centre is opening in a new location at 224 Henderson Highway. (Shannah-Lee Vidal/CBC)

Cats have always been a big part of Laferriere's life. Her love of the four-legged creatures began with the family pet when she was growing up. That cat had feline leukemia, and the family had to put him down.

"After that I knew any cat I had would be indoor, and I'd protect them. I just love them. You get one and you want another one. You can't have just one cat."

Miss J.La's Fur Babies Cat Café and Adoption Centre is located at 224 Henderson Highway. Sunday's opening day event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes a bake sale and silent auction. Admission to the event is $5.

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