Monday, February 24, 2020

Lola on the Road: PURRsonal Space - South Jersey's Cat Lounge (Palmyra, NJ)

Welcome back to "Lola on the Road." I'm continuing the series into 2020, and this year I'll be staying closer to home. Don't worry, though! There are plenty of cafés within driving distance to keep me busy! I'll never get tired of reporting on coffee and cats! 


purrsonal space |cat cafes


This past October I visited Women's Animal Center in Pennsylvania. I knew there were a few cat cafés in the area and I wanted to try to fit in a visit to one or two of them while I was there. I couldn't get a reservation at the café closest to WAC, so I opted to try to visit the one in South Jersey on my way home up the NJ Turnpike.
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I had the best time at PURRsonal Space! Although I arrived unannounced, I was warmly greeted and welcomed with open arms. Lori Genstein, the owner, wasn't there when I arrived but when her fiancé, Dan Rosenthal, called to tell her I was there, she came right over to meet me. Since I got there just as they were opening, I had the lounge and Lori all to myself. It was a blogger's dream!

As I look back over my notes (which are all over the place because we just talked, and talked and talked!), two words really pop out at me; advocacy and education. Regular readers of this blog will know those are two things I make great efforts to bring attention to, and I was thrilled to speak to people who are so passionate about these topics. Lori and Dan really are voices for voiceless cats and strive to educate and include the community in many ways. 

PURRsonal Space is located in a storefront in a small shopping center. 


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I honestly loved everything about the café! When you arrive you walk into the entrance area, which is a cat lover's dream. It is full of cat-themed merchandise, catnip, and enrichment toys for sale, and is decorated just purrfectly. 


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Visitors are asked to remove their shoes and are given a comfy pair of slippers to put on. Secure lockers are available for your shoes and other belongings so you don't have to worry about losing anything and can concentrate on having a great time. 

When you step into the lounge area, you're in a large space that Lori has divided into different sections very creatively. It's really adorable!



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There are plenty of spaces to sit and relax with the cats, and there is no shortage of toys to engage them with. On one wall there is a  9' X 10' Kitty Interactive Mural. Local artist Karol Greene Baker will hand paint your beloved furry family member for $75. It's a lovely way to honor your favorite furry. 

The custom-designed mural is just gorgeous, and my photos really don't do it justice. Information on how to include your pet is here


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There is also a beautiful Rainbow Bridge Memorial mural. The fee for having your furry angel handpainted is also $75. Lori told me that when people are grieving the loss of their pet they are automatically drawn to seek solace there. 


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Let's talk about the cats! The day I visited there were four cats in-house, and the maximum in the lounge at one time will be eight.


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From top left to bottom right, the cats are Tabbytha, Tatiana, Jetta, and Jette. Tatiana is quite a shy cat, and it took her some time to come around to me. Once I started giving her a treat she started to come out of her shell a bit. 


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But as soon as Dan went near her she started purring and rubbing against him looking for love. Lori says "Dan (AKA Uncle Dada to the kitties) is Superman of PURRsonal Space! Behind every Catwoman is a Real Man who loves her and her cats!" 



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Tabbytha is a cat who has "been through hell," including two surgeries. At the time of my visit, Tabbytha was really starting to blossom. She was zooming around and had begun to approach visitors and even sit in laps. Lori felt that for the time being it was in Tabbytha's best interest not to bring in any more cats so she could continue to flourish and mature. Even though people would like to see more cats, Lori said she needs to do what's best for the cats she already has in-house. She feels "it's my mission." 


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Tabbytha is now with a foster and is happy as a bug in a rug. Whoever adopts this cute, rambunctious cat will be very lucky indeed. 


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Tabbytha in her foster home. Photo courtesy PURRsonal space


The cats come from different places including the Burlington County Animal Shelter, vets, and families in crisis. Lori will go to the shelter and pull cats, specifically those who have been surrendered. She is also excited to currently be working with Homeward Bound and PSPCA to help save homeless cats. 



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PURRsonal Space opened its doors in February 2018, and adoption  #38 was in process when I was visiting. Adoption #1 took place before they were officially opened. A senior gentleman would frequently watch the cats through the window as Lori and Dan were preparing the lounge, so Lori invited him in one day. The first thing he did was sit under the Rainbow Bridge. Then he fell in love with one of the cats and the rest is history. 


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Lori has six volunteers helping out in the lounge. She also relies on fosters to help socialize cats and hold them until there is room in the lounge. 


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There isn't one space in the lounge that isn't designed for cat fun and comfort. 


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There are plenty of shelves, beds, trees, towers, and places to hide away if they want. 


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The atmosphere is very relaxing. Every inch of the lounge is utilized to form comfortable spots for both the felines and the humans. 


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Lori started out in the pet world when she opened her pet sitting company for both dogs and cats, I’ve Got the ‘Scoop’!, LLC, in 2010 after leaving her previous job of 15 years. While getting to know her clients, she found that "a lot of families didn't have resources or knowledge" of topics such as safety, spay/neuter, behavior, and nutrition. She realized she needed to focus on education and prevention so families could have "peace of mind, cats could be happy", and wouldn't end up being homeless. 


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Lori was inspired to start community outreach. She started scanning microchips, attending events and handing out informational flyers. Local people started looking at her as a "cat expert." 


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Lori wanted to bring cat parents together in one place, so she developed the idea to start the South Jersey Pet Wellness Symposium. She needed experts to help her, so she reached out to expert community members who were interested in helping people with pets. Out of the goodness of their hearts, they joined the symposium to help educate people. The symposium also drew in vendors to make it a completely fun day for attendees. 


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When I asked Lori what the biggest joy she gets from the lounge is, she quickly answered; "educating families and seeing cats going to loving homes." Lori loves connecting with cat parents, and tells them no question is stupid. "Every day we learn something new." She uses every opportunity she can as an educational experience, and she often tells people that a cat's happy life starts with us. "We have to adjust our lifestyle sometimes to help our cats",and she works with families on different strategies to incorporate at home. She helps people learn their cat's body language and lets them know that they need to "respect their cat and the cat will respond." 



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Lori also has a passion for teaching children to be responsible with cats. A local school bring students from their Occupational Training Program into the lounge. The students work on learning cleaning and laundry skills while they are learning about cats. They learn to respect cats while having fun. An adult day program, Bancroft Burlington, also visits the lounge with their individuals as part of their Occupational Training Program.


purrsonal space |cat cafes

Lori is strongly opposed to declawing and testified at a committee hearing for the banning of declawing in New Jersey. She raised awareness to bills Senator Troy Singleton sponsored to ban declawing in New Jersey, and represented the Paw Project manning their booth at events! Senator Singleton, as well as other local politicians, visit and support the lounge.


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One of Lori's goals is to create a positive perception of cats. She formed a relationship with a local apartment complex who will reduces their pet fee for residents if they adopt a cat from PURRsonal Space. 


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Lori likes to have events at least once a month. Arts & Crafts seems to be the most popular event. Not long before my visit, a group made cat tents out of t-shirts and hangers. 



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When someone who may not like cats comes in for an event they may learn something, and when they leave they take a positive perception of cats with them. 


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PURRsonal Space - South Jersey's Cat Lounge is located at 1005 Market Street, Palmyra, NJ 08065. Business hours are currently: 

Monday:        CLOSED
Tuesday:       
CLOSED
Wednesday:  CLOSED
Thursday:      
CLOSED
Friday:           5 pm - 9 pm
Saturday:      1 pm - 8 pm
Sunday:        1 pm - 8 pm 



purrsonal space |cat cafes


The cost is $15 per hour for adults (16 and over), $10 per hour for college students, $12.75 per hour for adults who serve and protect, and $10 per hour for seniors over 65. The lounge is also available for private parties.  Reservations can be made here. There is a Keurig on site for coffee/tea, and from time to time snacks are offered. But there is a deli next door where you can purchase additional snacks. 


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Don't forget to follow PURRsonal Space on social media:






purrsonal space |cat cafes



I hope you enjoyed reading about PURRsonal Space as much as I enjoyed visiting. This is a little different from my usual cat café report, but Lori spoke about her work and love of cats so passionately, it just took a different spin. I do need to add that the cats were very well cared for, and the lounge was immaculate. And I mean immaculate. Lori was worried that things weren't just "purrfect" since they just opened, but everything was in its place, the floors were clean, and there was absolutely no litter box odor. 

I want to extend many, many heartfelt thanks for both Lori and Dan for making me feel so welcome and for sharing their love of cats with me. Lori told me that  "the Lounge is an extension of my pet sitting business... an expansion, broadening our ability to help a greater number of homeless animals, and humans, with a focus specifically on cats." Lori and Dan have definitely made an impact on cats, people, and their community. 

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Stay tuned for the next installment of our cat café series as Lola The Rescued Cat continues to go on the road. I'm not sure where I'll be visiting next, so it will be a surprise for both of us!
Have you ever visited a cat café? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Dawn

Would you like to comment?

  1. WOW! I enjoyed learning about this cafe more than any other! I'd LOVE to go there!!! Best ever!!!

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  2. Now THAT'S being the change you want to see in the world! Yay for Lori and Dan and the cats!

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  3. Such a nice place! They obviously love kitties and their care and compassion shows everywhere!

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  4. Thanks for sharing this beautiful place of Lori and Dan. It makes me want to go their soon. We are in the Philadelphia area, so it wouldn't be to hard of a drive. Great meeting these lovely kitties. We always love your posts. Have a fantastic rest of your day.
    World of Animals

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  5. What a wonderfully well written and informative blog post about Purrsonal Space cat lounge! That is a great way to do good life work. Helping to educate humans on everything about felines is so awesome. We are wishing them the best success in all they do. It looks like the Purrfect place for cats and humans! Love it!

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  6. What a beautiful place ! It's great they want to educate people about cats, and take such good care of the kitties. The paintings are beautiful Purrs

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  7. Very nice place! Hope they have cats flying out of there into their furrever homes!
    I visited The Catfe' Lounge in Ferndale a week ago, which you've already visited, but they've created more space since then. I had fun, and will post about it soon.

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  8. Hey, they have the same little castle I do! This is such a charming place, and I loved the kitties!

    There are a pawful of cat cafes near us, but my human hasn't gotten up to make the trip (seriously, going to La Jolla really requires an overnight trip, even though it's less than 100 miles away).

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  9. What a cool cat cafe! It looks so clean and cat-inviting. Thanks for taking us along.

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  10. What an amazing place for cats to wait for their forever homes. I like the Rainbow Bridge wall too. XO

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  11. What wonderful people Lori and Dan are! I really enjoyed this post. It is good that they educate people in all aspects of cat care. The cat lounge looks lovely too, everything a cat could wish for.

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  12. What an amazing place! The cats are so obviously loved and well cared for.

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  13. Advocacy and education - I love it! It looks like they have a wonderful space for the cats who call it home until finding their forever home. I'm glad you had such a great visit!

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  14. Oh, MY!! Wish we had a kitty Cafe here...the closest thing we have is the huge cage-free roaming room at one of the local shelters...

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  15. I can't even tell you how much I love this series on cat cafes, and I think this is my favorite post yet! Something tells me you've made lifelong friends in Lori and Dan. They sound like such a pawsome couple with a true passion for their work. (Mudpie took note of squeezies being handed out, so that alone gives this cafe four paws up from her!)

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  16. that pretty much looks like my idea of heaven!

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  17. I'm not sure which is more impressive- that wonderfully awesome place or the thoroughly detailed report! Lori and Dan are amazing, loving, patient- you name it, and we just can't get over how the place is decorated. Truly awe-inspiring.

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