The Cat Lounge aims to combat overcrowding and entertain the community

August 11 – A new cat salon and rescue is making its way into the heart of the St. Joseph community.

For a few local ladies, it’s been a dream for some time to create a space to help local furry friends. After years of helping each other, they teamed up as partners to open the nonprofit Self Expressions Cat Lounge and Rescue.

Self Expressions Cat Lounge and Rescue officially opens Friday at 300B South Belt Highway and will host a grand opening in September.

Mardell Barber has owned Self Expressions Body Piercing Shop for over 20 years and is an advocate for cats in the area. At first, she wasn’t sure about moving, but when the opportunity presented itself, she knew it was time.

“These two places were rented out and it almost felt like it had to happen,” Barber said. “That one was quite big, a little bigger than our old piercing shop. And it was a good size for a cat parlor just to start. You know, we would, of course, like to grow, but that’s where I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ That’s why the store moved, so we could be right next door, so we’re always available for the animals.

Amy Davidson is a partner at the show and said that while the concept was easy to dream up, making it work took a little longer.

“Funding was tough initially, and we’re hoping it pays for itself pretty quickly, that’s why we have people donating and people paying $10 to get in. Any kind of fee you pay, that’s okay straight to the cats and nurturing them and maintaining that,” Davidson said.

Ariel Schlorff is a partner and said the nonprofit salon is not only the first in St. Joseph, but one of the first in the country.

“So there’s only five, and now six, we’re doing six non-profit cat parlors in the United States. There are over 100 cat parlors and cafes, but we’re one of the six nonprofits,” Schlorff said. “The reason I started rescuing cats was because of the number of cats we euthanized, because of the overpopulation. And it’s everywhere, it’s not just us here in St. Joseph. That’s pretty much any city. And our goal here is to reduce the number of cats that are euthanized unnecessarily.”

And while their love for cats is a great start, Barber and the other partners hope community members will reach out to them to learn more about how to help them and the animals.

“We need the help of the community to get these cats off the streets. And then, in turn, the cats help you,” Barber said.

More information about the cat lounge and rescue can be found on the Self Expressions Cat Lounge and Rescue Facebook page.