Audrey Boese loves animals. During the pandemic, she took a chance, changed careers, learned how to operate an espresso machine, and started Whiskers Cat Café & Coffeehouse with the intention of giving shelter cats a playful outlet for adoption. She quickly discovered that while she was helping her feline friends, she was also cultivating a sacred space for clients to process her feelings while sipping her daily cuppa joe.
The tone: Tell us about your journey as a pet owner and lover and how you came to be a butler.
Audrey Boese: When I had this idea, it was focused on cats: “How can we provide a cool environment for cats, get them out of the shelter, out of the kennels and into a free space?” In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “People will love it too.” As we’ve grown, the business is much more geared towards mental health and people in times of crisis.
We support mourning and celebrating much more than I imagined. It is a big surprise because we have many clients who have lost a family member, or have lost a pet, or are going through very difficult times. One of our regulars got fired first thing in the morning and immediately drove here and just wanted to talk to someone and hang out. It can be very emotional (it’s very hard to match someone’s energy, you know, for our staff), but I think we’re all very emotional. You know, it’s cheaper than therapy, but still go to therapy; we can make a recommendation.
For some reason, when you enter the room with cats, you forget about everything else. I mean, that’s what I do anyway. You’re not thinking about layoff or loss, so it frees you up for mental stillness.
Does parenting break your heart?
Yes and no. We grow fond of each passing cat. Some of us become more attached to particular cats, spending more time with them, or caring for them a bit more than others. But the people who adopt us are the best people in the world. We send them to the best addresses. We sent a kitten, Figaro, home yesterday at 1:30 pm, and around 4 or 5 pm, they sent us photos of the son of him and Figaro snuggling.
What was your first pet?
He was chasing everything around the neighborhood all the time, any cat or dog, but he never brought them home. Little Birds: She would try to save the little birds. Looking back, she should have left those little birds alone. I’ve always had an obsession with animals, and when I’m on vacation, I’m naming the ducks in the pond. My first pet was a dog named Callie.
Do you identify as a cat person or a dog person?
I am both, honestly. I would love to do something with dogs, but cats are a bit underrated. In many shelters, dogs are their number one pet, so it’s great to highlight cats. A lot of people think I’m crazy about cats. I’m just a crazy animal person.
A farm in the center of the city?
A rescue petting zoo?
Yeah, who knows what the future holds?
Do you change the name of your foster cats?
The shelter does a good job, but sometimes they are used pets and they keep their name. I let my staff name my foster kitties, and they come up with the most outrageous shit, like Waffle Maker. The latest batch of kitties included the Keurig, Waffle Maker, Spatula, and Toaster-Oven.
Whiskers Cat Cafe & Coffee Shop is located at 3705-3707 Southwest Trafficway, Kansas City, MO 64111.