Tree House Cat Cafe` Now Open! #ThCatCafe

We are so excited to let everyone know that the long-awaited cafe` is now open for business!

tree house mascot
Saffron P. Sorbet, our new mascot, getting ready to sip some latte! (Just kidding. We don’t support giving latte to cats.)

As Chicago’s very first cat cafe within a shelter, we had a few ordinances to work with and a few hoops to jump through, but with a lot of help from our community, our supporters, donors, volunteers, and Alderman Debra Silverstein’s office, we have finally succeeded! We currently have five fabulous FeLV-positive kitties just waiting to meet you and knock your coffee on the floor politely sit with you.

Why FeLV-positive kitties you ask? Because they need you. They are healthy cats, but they have a virus that can cause complications down the line. They’re harder to adopt out because of a stigma around this virus, and just a few years ago (and sometimes still today) they are euthanized upon entry into a shelter. Programs like the one here at Tree House give other shelters who cannot care for these animals a place to send them to give them a second chance. Putting them front and center in our cafe` gives us the opportunity to speak more about this virus to help destigmatize it in the public eye and give these cats the possibility of a loving home. The more of these cats we can place into homes, the more we can save.

We think that when you meet them, you’ll see that there’s really no difference between the love they can offer you when compared to an FeLV-negative cat. They may have a shorter amount of time in which to do it, but that means the love even harder for the years they have left.

Please come join them for a cup of coffee or tea! Appointments can be made at our Cafe Page. We book in 30-minute increments, $10 per person, and that includes a drink of your choice made by our barista. We can’t wait to see you!

Our floor seating area. Note Dahlia politely sitting on the carpet waiting for some guests.
We don’t normally have donuts, but it was a special occasion.
Our kitties described as fancy drinks


Leonardo: King of the Forest Floor

Ok, so he doesn’t actually live in a forest, but he does live in a Tree House (and he spends a lot of time on the floor), and we’re hoping to change that. See, Leonardo has been at Tree House since 2017. That’s a long time. Now, let’s take a look at this face and see if you can spot anything that would make it hard for him to get adopted:

Leonardo, King of the Tree House Floor.

Nope. Looks good, right? Ok, MAYBE he looks a bit older than he is (he’s actually only 6). Maybe his eye is a little goopy. Maybe he has FeLV (he does, that’s not a maybe), and FIV (he comes fully-loaded) but in addition to all that, he also has love! Love to give YOU, the one person in the whole world that he’s been waiting for to see through his slightly rough exterior right into his soft, lovely heart.

Imagine yourself sitting on the floor, right next to Leo on his very favorite Kingdom, him in his soft, comfy throne with a plate of wet food, you with whatever it is you like to do. You would pet him gently, but you would know when to stop and would respect his wishes, as is his right. Now, imagine the best part of all of this: that you single-handedly gave a second chance to a little guy who really, really needed it.

Leo doesn’t mind other cats, but Tree House recommends (in some situations)* that he live with other FeLV-positive kitties. Lucky for you, we have them! (See Ginger below) He would also prefer a chill, quiet home, one with plenty of floor on which he could impose his will.

That time Leonardo and Ginger accidentally wore the same outfit to a party. She was MAAAAAD.

If you think Leonardo could be the kitty of your dreams, come in to Tree House to meet him. Ask for him by name; we all know him here.

We hope to see you soon. So does Leonardo.

Love,

Tree House.

*Tree House doesn’t recommend sending an FeLV-positive cat into homes with kittens or geriatric cats. However, see our adoption counselors to see if he might fit into your existing cat household.

Ginger, still miffed at Leo for that wardrobe faux pas.

**This post was updated shortly after posting to reflect Leo’s FIV-positive status (we don’t think too much about it and forgot to include it) and Tree House’s new guidelines on mixing FeLV-positive cats with FeLV-negative cats. **

Obese, Filthy, FeLV+, FIV+…Saving Leo

Leonardo was in bad shape when he arrived at Tree House. He was so obese, weighing more than 20 pounds, that he couldn’t even groom himself. His hair was matted and filthy. Leonardo was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and he had very painful and severe dental disease.

He Might Not Survive Surgery

Given his weight, performing surgery to heal his dental problems was too risky. Waiting also had its challenges. The infection in his mouth could easily become something more complicated since his immune system was already very compromised.

Most shelters would have euthanized Leonardo. Tree House knew this gentle cat could recover and deserved a second chance.

With care and a special diet, Leonardo began to improve, and when he lost 20% of his body weight, he was finally able to have his dental surgery.

A Svelt and Beautiful Guy

Leonardo has fully recovered and is doing very well. He continues to lose weight slowly and looks great. Leonardo’s energy has returned, and he loves to play. He is one of the easiest-going cats you’ll ever meet, and he enjoys laps and pets. Leonardo is ready for a new home and lifelong companions.

Millions of Community Cats Who Need Help

There are millions of community cats living outdoors in the United States. Some, like Leonardo, are strays who like to interact with humans and would do well in a loving, indoor home.  However, the majority are feral and do not want contact with humans. Once they are spayed/neutered and vaccinated, the outdoors is their home.

Tree House believes that all cats deserve to have the homes and care that are best for them. We make a difference in cats’ lives every day.

Members Help Cats Like Leo

Members are critical to our ability to help cats across our community. Please join us to  help us fulfill our mission of giving cats a second chance at a better life—indoors or outdoors.

Sherlock Adoption Update – FeLV+ Cat is Home

At Tree House, we believe every healthy and treatable cat deserves to have a forever home – including cats with special needs and chronic illnesses such as Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV).

First FeLV+ Adoption Program in Chicago

So, What is Feline Leukemia Virus

Many people are unfamiliar with FeLV, and, sadly, many cats who have the disease are euthanized due to a lack of adequate resources or knowledge. FeLV positive (FeLV+) cats can live happy and healthy lives even though their lives might be shorter than an FeLV negative cat. Tree House knew there had to be a better way, so we created a permanent FeLV adoption room at our new shelter.

Tree House became the only shelter in Chicago, and one of the few in the country, with a dedicated adoption program for FeLV+ cats. Since that time, we have become a resource for shelters throughout the Midwest, and many FeLV+ cats have been transferred to Tree House who might otherwise have been euthanized.

It’s Not Cancer

Contrary to some beliefs, FeLV is not cancer. It is a virus that breaks down a cat’s immune system, making the cat more susceptible to illnesses that otherwise do not impact healthy cats. These secondary illnesses are what typically lead to an FeLV+ cat’s death. While the estimated lifespan of a cat with FeLV is three to four years, we’ve had many FeLV+ cats who have lived much longer.

Sherlock is a great example of a cat who is doing very well with FeLV. A burly cat with a great personality to match, Sherlock is a loveable guy who was transferred to Tree House from another shelter that lacked the resources to help him. He is a healthy and happy FeLV+ cat who is now four years old.

Curious and silly, Sherlock loves people, and it was a wonderful day when Morgan and Katherine came to Tree House for a visit and gave this great guy a home. After visiting several other shelters, Katherine shared, “I knew the minute I walked into Tree House that this was the place for me.” She returned that weekend with her husband. They were open to learning more about FeLV – it is always so heartwarming when potential adopters are willing to give cats with special needs a chance and take the time to learn more about FeLV.

Sherlock loves his new “cat daddy”.  After talking to our adoption counselors, Katherine and Morgan felt that it was something they could easily handle, “Every kitty in the FeLV+ adoption room would have been an option for us, but Sherlock was ours from the beginning. [It was] love at first sight.”

Sherlock is settling into home life very well. “We are very grateful to Tree House for taking such great care of Sherlock and helping us find him.”

Sherlock likes to sit on his quilt and watch the traffic go by. He loves all his toys – for about three minutes, and then it is time to clean himself and pretend he was not just acting the goof. He is a constant companion – on the couch, in the bed, and right by the chair at mealtimes.

Giving FeLV+ Cats a Second Chance

We are thrilled for Katherine, Morgan, and Sherlock. We hope this story inspires others to learn more about cats with Feline Leukemia Virus and to consider adopting them. These cats deserve a home, and while the time you have with them may be less, the love and joy they bring will fill your heart for much longer!

Support our efforts to help FeLV+ cats and the many other cats who struggle with illness, injuries, and chronic medical conditions.

Adopted: From Outdoors to a New Home for FeLV+ Cat

Queen Victoria, who is FeLV+ (Feline Leukemia Virus Positive), was recently adopted into a wonderful home!

This snuggly, sweet, and active girl had been living outdoors, however, it was apparent that she was an incredibly friendly cat who needed a good home, and in January, 2017, she was admitted to Tree House. When she arrived, Victoria was covered with fleas and understandably a bit cautious. She was also FeLV+.

Feline Leukemia Virus, also known as “FeLV,” is the cause of a variety of diseases. It is not cancer, but instead an incurable retrovirus that compromises a cat’s immune system making them more susceptible to other illnesses. FeLV is specific to cats and does not pose a risk to other animals or people. Read more about FeLV here.

Last year, Tree House created a pop-up FeLV+ adoption room, the first of it’s kind in Chicago. Previously, FeLV+ cats were placed in foster homes and did not have as much of an opportunity to meet potential adopters. We were also grateful to have received grant funding from the ASPCA Lil’ BUB’s Big Fund to support the cost of care for FeLV+ cats and help cats like Victoria get the home they deserve.

The success of our FeLV+ adoption room has been wonderful and enabled us to not only adopt more FeLV+ cats but educate visitors and potential adopters about FeLV+ and led to our FeLV+ adoption room becoming a permanent part of our shelter headquarters.

At first, Victoria took some time to adjust in a foster home and was then placed in our FeLV+ adoption room. She is an incredibly affectionate cat who loves being held and would chat “hello” to anyone who walked her way! It was a happy day when a lovely adopter came in to meet a furry friend who could co-exist with their dog. The adopter fell in love with Victoria and decided to give her the home she had been waiting a very long time.

More Happy “Home Comings”

Also recently adopted:

  • Tofutti Cutie
  • Suzuki
  • Micro Shimmy
  • Gris the Tamale
  • Fuzzy Wuzzy
  • Tavaras
  • Rosie Day
  • Celery
  • Sassy Kat
  • Regular Sized Rudy
  • Fidelma
  • Aoli
  • Rainbow Roll
  • Tempura Roll
  • Unagi
  • Crunch Roll
  • Achak
  • Moon River
  • Snoopy Shnuffleupagus