Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary and cat cafe helps special needs pets find "furever" homes

DE PERE, Wis. - When you first step inside the small café tucked onto Main Ave in De Pere, it looks like a regular coffee shop.

Until you see the cat curled up on the chair. And the one perched on the counter. And another brushing up against the legs of coffee-drinkers.

The cats, mingling with patrons as they sip their coffee and flip through magazines, are all up for adoption. Most of them also have special needs.

The café and adoption center is called Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, a non-profit founded by Elizabeth Feldhausen, 

"We opened Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary to rescue animals with special needs from euthanization lists in Wisconsin," Feldhausen said.

Feldhausen has always had a passion for helping animals, especially ones others would give up on, she said. When she was young, her cat was going to be put down. Instead, Feldhausen rehabilitated the cat, allowing it to live another five years.

Now, she does the same thing with cats that come to Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary.

"A lot of our animals here have physical or psychological disabilities," she said. "We rehabilitate them to the best of our ability and we try to find them homes so that they can get a second chance."

One of the cats Feldhausen, her staff, and her volunteers are working with is named Willow. She was hit by a car when she was a kitten, and could not move her back end. She doesn't have feeling from the middle of her spine to the tip of her tail, Feldhausen said.

However, after two months of therapy and rehab, Willow is improving. She has been able to run and play, and can pick up her back end when she walks.

Willow, along with the other cats at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, benefit from the café because of social interaction both with other cats and humans.

There is also a playroom for people to interact with cats in a quieter setting. 

To learn more about Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, visit their website here.

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