La Jolla’s Cat Lounge heralded a milestone in July – she adopted her 3,000. Cat.
Lucky No. 3,000 is an adult tuxedo cat named Dale who went home to Greg Venier and Jay Blangero of Lemon Grove on July 1.
The Cat Lounge, which opened in November 2019, is a nonprofit that rescues cats from animal shelters in counties with a higher euthanasia rate than San Diego County. The public can have a chat with the cats before they – ideally – take them home. Should a guest decide to adopt a cat, the $ 100 adoption fee ($ 200 for kittens) will cover spay / neuter services, microchips, and vaccines.
Inspired by “cat cafes,” where diners pay an entrance fee to play with cats, the Cat Lounge at 1006 Torrey Pines Road is soliciting a $ 20 donation to spend time in a room full of cats in hope that one is adopted. The proceeds from the donation will be used to provide medical care for future cats.
Adopting cats from the San Diego Humane Society and other nonprofits, Venier and Blangero take special care to bond with an animal before taking it home. That was difficult, if not impossible, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I did some research, went to a few places, and when I found the Cat Lounge it seemed like the perfect place,” Venier told La Jolla Light. “During COVID, the precautionary measures were escalated in all areas to ensure the safety of humans and animals. When my partner and I were looking for adoption, going anywhere was a challenge because they didn’t allow anyone to spend time with the animals. I’ve adopted a couple of times and spending that time creates a bond. You know immediately if it was the right animal for you. When we realized we could spend time with the cats [at the Cat Lounge], we left immediately. “
When it came to finding their newest addition to the family, the pair actually had a few other cats in their sights. You didn’t want to be around her, so it wouldn’t work. They thought so seriously about another that Venier took a picture of the cat with Blangero.
In the background of this picture was Dale.
“He looked sad and exhausted,” said Venier. “It turned out he had a cold so he didn’t look that good. He wasn’t the cat that catches your eye first. I wanted to sit down and felt a tap on the side of my leg and there was Dale. He sat up and lifted his paws to pick him up and hold him. When I did that, he was sitting like a bird on my shoulder and wanted to stay seated. My partner came over so I dropped Dale and Dale went straight to Jay. At that moment we knew that this was the cat for us. I felt this intense love for him. “
Dale and new owner Greg Venier of Lemon Grove celebrate at home after Venier and partner Jay Blangero Dale came to 3,000. Cat adopted from the Cat Lounge in La Jolla.
(Courtesy Greg Venier)
Venier said he went the adoption route because “pet stores and breeders are for-profit … I’ve always been skeptical about searching them to get animals. Places like the Cat Lounge and the Humane Society are non-profit and the money goes to animal care and that’s what I stand for. Every animal deserves a second chance for these organizations. “
For Dale, that second chance could have meant the difference between life and death.
“Dale was actually found in a trailer park in San Bernardino and we believe someone dumped him,” said Renee Shamloo, owner of the Cat Lounge. “A cat growing up on the street is usually underweight and has health problems. But he was handsome and well taken care of, so we think he had a family that left him. Dale literally walked into someone’s trailer for attention. “
Instead of taking Dale to the local animal shelter – which, according to Shamloo, only keeps animals for about a week before euthanizing them, especially adults since they’re less likely to be adopted – the person turned to a friend to bring the cat. The friend knew about the cat lounge and brought Dale with him from San Bernardino.
“It was a great community effort, a lot of networking, to keep him from setting foot in a shelter,” Shamloo said.
“Almost all of our cats were found on the street, or their owner died and the family didn’t know how to look after them, or they were otherwise abandoned,” she said. “We were an intervening force.” ◆