Catoro Café, which allows customers to play with rescued cats and offers adoption services, may close due to financial difficulties.
But thanks to generous donations from the cat-loving community, the cafe has been able to stay in business.
According to one of the managers, Victoria Vandenberghe, the beloved bubble tea shop has helped more than 850 cats to be adopted since it opened in 2019.
“Seeing all the adopted cats and owners coming back and showing us pictures and hearing all the stories – it made me really sad that this could end,” she said.
She and co-manager Sheena Divina have worked at the cafe since it opened more than three years ago.
“A very niche business like this has always had high costs. Working with animals is 24/7,” Divina said.
“It’s kind of gotten to the point where we could face closure if we’re not able to raise funds to pay some of our past debts and future vet bills,” Vandenberghe said, adding that The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic also took its toll.
“We don’t quite see the numbers as if it was pre-COVID,” she continued.
Customers, when asked about the potential closure, told CTV News they were upset by the possibility.
“I come here often. I don’t have a cat but I love spending time with cats. So I was really sad to hear that because of COVID and all that stuff it might do bankruptcy,” Mary said. Wu, a regular at the store.
“It really sucks because these cats need to find a home and they provide a lot of comfort to a lot of visitors,” added another customer, Tommy Dinh.
As a last desperate measure to save its business, the cafe launched a GoFundMe on Thursday.
So far, he has raised over $78,000 in just a few days, more than three-quarters of his goal.
“It’s overwhelming. We so appreciate all the support we’ve seen so far,” Divina said.
“I think it really shows that people really care about it. Even if they don’t come all the time, even if they’ve never been here, they know the value it has for the community,” said added Wu.
The store says it will use the money to pay off debts, vet bills and to buy food and litter for the kittens.
It houses around 35 cats at a time and hopes to continue its service for years to come.
With less than a handful of cat cafes in the area, it’s clear the community wants this one to stay.