Opening a small business can be a huge leap. Fortunately, cats are great jumpers. Dr.
Michelle Wyatt, owner of Eugene Springfield Cat Lounge (ESCL), knew that well when she
opened the Cat Lounge in January 2024. She wanted to do something to help both cats in need
of homes and people in need of companionship. After much hard work and research, her dream
pounced to life right here in Springfield.
Cat lounges are a growing trend worldwide over the past decade, each a little different
than the rest. ESCL has partnered with local cat rescue organizations to provide a temporary
residence to cats in need of a loving permanent home. All the cats at ESCL are adoptable
through the rescues that own them, and 100% of adoption fees go to the rescue to continue
helping cats who need it most. This collaboration is the lifeblood of ESCL as the rescues
provide cats that people come to spend time with, while the Cat Lounge reciprocates by giving
their cats a place to connect with people and hopefully find their forever homes. ESCL shines a
light on these small rescues, making the public more aware of them and increasing interest in
pet adoption from local organizations. The lounge is operated with several protocols to maintain
a low-stress environment for the pets, and the employees keep the lounge safe and sanitary.
The cats are cared for following practice guidelines recommended by the ASPCA and the US
Humane Society, and they benefit from the extra love and socialization efforts the employees
provide to these furry residents.
As further research is published, people are becoming more aware of the therapeutic
benefits of animal companionship. Spending time with cats can help alleviate loneliness,
depression and anxiety. There is evidence that owning a cat can help reduce blood pressure
and lower risk of heart disease. As there are many situations leaving people who love animals
unable to own a pet, ESCL provides a relaxing environment for people to get some kitty time
without the commitment of ownership. Our feline friends are the prerequisite for this
collaboration and the reason ESCL and other cat cafes exist.
It must be acknowledged that the customers play a huge role too. As a small business,
the Cat Lounge values its patrons. The lounge wouldn’t exist without the support of the
community, and as such the owners are open to feedback from visitors about how to improve
the experience. This is one of the greatest things about small business; the commitment the
owners hold for their customers, versus the corporate policies of big business that focuses on
shareholder earnings. Unlike large corporations that take money out of the community to funnel
it into the pockets of CEOs and investors, small businesses provide local jobs and feed their
community (in this case, both people and homeless animals). It’s a cycle that keeps a
community thriving and it puts the economic power in the hands of the people who live and work
there. Without small businesses, a community ceases to support itself and instead becomes
reliant on the whims of corporations, even if that isn’t what is best for the people.
In the end, your shopping habits are your own choice, but if you prefer to truly make a difference
with your purchases, consider being like a cat and taking the leap to supporting small

Published On: April 29, 2024
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