MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. – They say dogs are man’s best friend, but for a Menomonee Falls couple, cats are favorite furballs.
You don’t need to take more than a few steps inside the home of Shawn Redner and Hillary Siegel-Redner before you’re surrounded by thousands of them.
But don’t worry – only about ten of them are real.
“None of this happened on purpose. It all started out of boredom,” Redner told CBS 58’s Ellie Nakamoto-White with a laugh. is all my wife and I do.”
The couple started collecting cat figurines in 2018, taking inspiration from an ex-girlfriend who collected mushrooms.
Two years later, as their collection grew almost too large to handle, Redner came up with the idea for a “mewseum”.
“It was the very first thing I found at St. Vinny’s in West Allis,” Redner said, pointing to a framed photo of a cat. “It’s Taffy. This photo was taken in October 1967.”
Now, cat-related objects cover every room in the house from floor to ceiling.
“I never thought we would find so many things,” Redner said. “It was just a big accident and now it’s our whole house plus the basement plus a storage unit.”
Plates. Toys. Trinkets. Statues. Cats dressed as movie characters. Jim Beam whiskey decanters from 1967. Music boxes. Ornaments.
Entire walls are decorated with framed photos of felines.
“I thought they were loved enough once to be photographed. I can take them home and love them again,” Redner said.
The couple opened the museum in 2021, recently remodeling it over the summer to make room for their seemingly endless collection.
The vast majority of their items are either bought second-hand or donated, something Redner takes to heart.
“I solemnly swore that I would take care of them for as long as possible,” Redner said. “People believe in this place enough to pass on their loved ones’ stuff to us.”
For the duo, it’s more than just objects. It’s a collection of people and their stories, all under one roof.
“Who drives 800 miles to get a few cat figurines? But we did,” Redner said. “There’s so much negativity out there and if I can make somebody happy, you know, just bring somebody a little bit of joy, then that’s what we’re gonna keep trying to do.”
Her favorite part is sharing their collection with visitors who come from all over the world, united by their love for furry friends.
“There were people from Buffalo, New York. This guy says he’s from Poland,” Redner said. “The woman from Peru, she was awesome. Her daughter lives around the corner so I was talking to her daughter and then her daughter was translating it to her mom and her mom was clapping and laughing and it was so much fun.”
For Redner, cats are a universal language.
“They’re fierce, fantastic balls of love with attitude issues,” Redner said. “When people come here and visit me, they let me know that we’re on to something. That we’re on the right track. That what we’re doing isn’t completely a waste of time.”
In fact, the museum serves to give back to those it features, with 100% of donations raised for local cat rescues.
So far, approximately $3,000 has been donated.
Going forward, the couple plans to continue to expand to make room for their extensive collection, and possibly even add a cat cafe to continue giving back and helping rescue animals.
“The happiness this place brings to people is the reason I keep doing it,” Redner said. “If you didn’t think cat dreams could come true, well this house is full of them.”