All the cats in the Tree House Humane Society café have coffee-related descriptions. Dakota is a “medium brown roast with tiny beans.” (Photography by Devin Wideman)

Make a date for coffee … with a cat

Tree House Humane Society’s cat café showcases adoptable felines on a mission to find their forever homes.

If you love cats and coffee, there’s a place in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood you just have to visit. It’s the Tree House Humane Society cat café. According to executive director Raissa Allaire, AB’97, AM’02, it’s the city’s first cat café located within a shelter and the only one to feature FeLV-positive cats.

Felicia, a cat at Tree House Humane Society
Two-and-a-half-year-old Felicia, “sweet with a touch of cream,” tempts potential adopters by highlighting her bio. She’s on the quiet side, but “when you break out the fluffy feather toys or wand toys,” she says, “I instantly become the life of the party.” (Photography by Devin Wideman)

So what’s an FeLV-positive cat? Feline leukemia virus infects about 2 to 3 percent of US cats. While the virus is infectious to other cats, it can’t be transmitted to people, dogs, or other animals. The virus weakens the immune system and can make cats susceptible to other illnesses. Unfortunately there is no cure.

Dakota, a cat at Tree House Humane Society
Photogenic Dakota is a playful one-year-old who loves to explore. If things are quiet, she just might curl up on your lap. (Photography by Devin Wideman)

It sounds scary, but in reality, FeLV-positive cats aren’t sick or dying, and they don’t look or behave any differently from cats without the virus. Although not many shelters have FeLV-positive adoption programs, these cats have a lot of life and love to share—all they need is a home and some love in return (and regular vet care).

A cafe guest plays with Dr. Jones, a cat at Tree House Humane Society
A visitor from Covenant Home of Chicago tries to lure Dr. Jones into a play session with one of the café’s many toys. This handsome one-and-a-half-year-old boy is “black, robust, and spicy.” He’s been a resident at Tree House for a year and is really hoping to become someone’s personal physician soon. (Photography by Devin Wideman)

In addition to showcasing adoptable FeLV-positive cats looking for their forever homes, the café allows Chicagoans without cats to get a feline fix, including those from Tree House’s senior center partners. And that’s just the whipped cream on the mocha.

Tree House Humane Society cat cafe
Cat-puccino anyone? The café’s menu features cat-themed libations. To give you plenty of quality time with the cats, visits are reserved in 30-minute increments for $10, which includes a Kitty Cat Chai, Feline Fine coffee, or other beverage of choice. (Photography by Devin Wideman)

Learn about Tree House՚s top cat, Raissa Allaire, AB’97, AM’02.