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Chester County Press

A purr-fect place to spend some time

11/14/2017 02:48PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Jie Deng

By Natalie Smith
Staff Writer

Imagine nestling into a comfy chair, holding a cup of steeping tea and wrapped cookie, anticipating the show that is about to begin. You do not have to wait long.
Out of the corner of your eye, you catch a flash of gray, closely followed by a streak of black shooting across the floor and up, up, up a cat tree -- two kittens giving one another chase in the way only tiny felines can. Then, more slowly and deliberately, a black-and-white cat strolls by like he owns the place. A few minutes later, a curious black kitten, intrigued by the movement of your pen on a notebook, jumps onto your lap to play, and later curls up in the crook of your arm, purring as you scratch her ear.
What is this place? For cat lovers, it’s a little bit of heaven. Treetops Kitty Cafe in Kennett Square is a place where fans of felines can go to have a snack, read or work online if they choose, and watch, pet, cuddle and generally hang out with the adoptable kitties roaming throughout the premises.
“It’s a great place for stress relief,” said cafe manager Kim Ferko. Patrons also sometimes come just to visit a favorite pussycat, or they might swing by if they can’t have a cat themselves because of allergies or home rental constraints.
“People come here for a lot of different reasons,” agreed Treetops owner Laurellen Treisner.
Treetops is modeled after establishments that started in Japan and have been gaining popularity internationally. There are a few in the U.S., but Treisner said she believed there were only two others in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Treisner stressed that Treetops is more of a cat café than a cat cafe; underscoring that food and drink are secondary to the experience of spending time with the cats. Of course, having the kitties wandering around means Treetops isn’t licensed to prepare food, but you can get drinks and snacks.
Also, “We encourage people to buy food from local businesses and enjoy it here with the cats,” Treisner said.
The cafe cats are on site under the auspices of TreeTops Animal Rescue, which Treisner founded with her husband, George. The Landenberg couple started the foster-based rescue about 10 years ago. Although the rescue is no longer fostering dogs, the cats still “come from all sorts of places,” Treisner said. Some are brought up by transport from high-kill shelters in the South and some come to the rescue as strays.
Those who believe cats are so independent that they can’t get along with others would be very surprised at the feline interaction at the cafe. While there is an occasional hiss by an irritated kitty, the majority of the cats get along well.
“These cats were specifically chosen as ones who would get along,” Treisner said.
Having the cats relate with each other and many different humans does wonders for their sense of tolerance and adjustment, Treisner said.
Many of the felines that occupy the cafe space are kittens, Treisner said, because those are the ones that are considered highly adoptable. But not all. Summer, for instance, who’s 2, is a lovely orange-and-white tabby. A shy girl, she has a very sweet temperament and is learning to get used to all the activity around her. The café staff suggests she would do best with a “warm and patient owner.”
Then there’s Eliza, 2, a sweet calico who loves people.
Carlos is a ginger-and-white cat. He has a tipped or notched ear, which suggests he was picked up in a “scoop;” that is, a stray who was caught, sterilized and released. An energetic kitty, Carlos is “a wrestler,” Treisner said, and would do best in a home without young children.
Then there’s Panda, a black-and-white kitty who is the official “cafe cat.” He likes to look out the window, but isn’t going anywhere.
Occasionally Treetops will get in a special breed like a Siamese or Persian, but most of the cats are domestic shorthair – pretty much your garden-variety cat. All the animals have had their needed vaccinations and, if old enough, are spayed or neutered.
The café space had previously been the Treisners’ pet store, Paw & Claws, where they also had cats from the rescue, outside of cages. The transition to the non-profit has allowed the monies brought in to go toward the rescue as well as to maintaining the kitty café.
Like many non-profits, the cafe is fortunate to have a long list of volunteers, along with the two full-time employees and a couple of part-timers.
Treetops also supports groups that support animals. Through November, Treetops will be collecting pet food and supplies for Henry’s Cupboard, started by Sen. Andy Dinniman in honor of his late poodle. Run by the Brandywine Valley SPCA, the cupboard provides needed supplies for pet owners living below the poverty level.
Although the café itself is a very relaxing and casual spot, there are rules. Fees to spend time with the cats range from $5 to $50, depending on time and number of people. Please don’t bring a cat with you, the staff asks, either to leave or to “test how it gets along” with a café resident who catches your fancy.
Also, they don’t adopt out cats directly from the café. All adoptions are handled by the rescue, and forms are available online. As of early November, 35 cats had been adopted since the cafe's August opening.
Chris Fields, was in the cafe one recent day visiting her daughter Amanda Axe, who is a volunteer.
“This is such a great thing,” Fields said of the cafe. “[It make you realize] there’s a place for every cat.”
More information about Treetops Kitty Cafe is available at www.treetopskittycafecom.
Natalie Smith may be contacted at [email protected] or