Adopted cats call a vintage shop their new home
Catnip Coalition sounds like a club all our cats would be eager to join. But it’s actually a vintage mall located on a hip block in Burbank, California. From disco-era bell-bottoms to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on VHS, each customer is drawn to something different from dozens of vendors and artisans. However, there’s something all visitors want to see: shop cats Franklin and Nigel, adopted from Best Friends Animal Society.
“Customers gasp and laugh and have stars in their eyes when they see them. It’s almost like paparazzi with all the cameras being pulled out to capture the boys,” says Meghan “Cass” Cassaday, owner of Catnip Coalition. “We also have customers who are regulars who come just to see them.”
A vintage shop may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a home. But thinking outside the box to place pets in homes is essential for all communities to reach no-kill by 2025.
Back in the day
Let’s rewind to these now-popular felines’ story before they landed their home in L.A. Franklin (then named Marky Mark) and Nigel (then named Coddle) came to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, from two different shelters in Arizona.
Both cats struggled to adjust to the changes that can go along with losing their homes and starting over in a totally new and different environment. Nigel would swat and nip at his caregivers if he became overstimulated. Franklin was accustomed to the freedom of being an indoor-outdoor cat. Plus, he had a wounded leg and a chronic condition called chylothorax, which causes fluid to build up around his lungs and requires ongoing medical care.
To manage their respective challenges, Franklin and Nigel were placed in private rooms with catios. But their attentive caregivers could see that they still weren’t happy. So they tried an experiment: putting these two “troublemakers” together.
That turned out to be a genius move. Nigel and Franklin took to each other almost instantly. Sure, they spent lots of time wrestling, but it was a healthy outlet for their pent-up energy and led to more positive interactions with people.
California, here we come
Next, the dashing duo moved to the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles, where they stole the hearts of everyone they met, including Best Friends photographer Lori Fusaro. And Lori happens to know Cass (you can see where this is going).
“I didn't know too much about them except that they came together from the Sanctuary and that they helped each other become better cats,” says Lori. “They were so handsome and had such personality.”
Meanwhile, Cass had just achieved her dream of opening a vintage shop. As a former vet tech and total cat lady, she dreamt of adopting a pair of cats to call the shop home. When Lori heard this, she knew just the guys for the job.
“I immediately sent her the photos I took and told her all about (Franklin and Nigel),” says Lori.
Not only was Cass interested in adopting older cats, but her experience as a vet tech made her equipped to handle Franklin’s medical needs. As Lori puts it, “It was meant to be.”
Home sweet shop
This eclectic space provides a safe, enriching environment for Nigel and Franklin. Signage lets customers know that there are free-roaming cats inside. (Fortunately, the boys haven’t shown any interest in wandering beyond the shop.) Catnip Coalition is open seven days a week, so they get plenty of attention and affection from staff and shoppers. If they need to decompress, there are lofted beds throughout the store where they can go to escape the action.
“We also purchased collars that look like caution tape to put on the boys if they seem to be getting overstimulated by customer interactions,” says Cass.
Fluffy and majestic Franklin is often spotted high atop the store shelves. “He wants to be present to show off how handsome he is, but he must always be in control and often at arm’s length. A bit of a tease, but we respect and love him for it,” she says.
On the other hand, Nigel the gray tabby is always ready to socialize. “Nigel is a confident gentleman. He is constantly surprising us with his ability to entertain. His vocalizations and facial expressions are meme-worthy on a daily basis.”
All in a day’s work
As co-workers, Nigel and Franklin aren’t exactly helpful. (They’ve been known to walk across the cash register keys and sit perfectly in the way when a customer is trying to check out.) For them, it’s no work and all play. It’s not unusual to see them sleeping on the job or having “WWE-style” wrestling matches, just like they did at the Sanctuary.
Still, Nigel and Franklin have an important role. They are making a difference in the lives of their fellow felines simply by being themselves and attracting people to the shop. Cass is passionate about decreasing the number of cats who end up in shelters and donates a portion of Catnip Coalition sales to local rescue groups. She also fosters kittens and brings them into the shop for potential adopters to meet. There are also plans to do pop-up cat adoption events.
In their unique home, Franklin and Nigel are in store for many more years of love, fun, and adventure.
Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025
Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets.
Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.