Treetops Kitty Cafe Perseveres a Year After a Devastating Flood

Photo credit Ben Silver

Treetops Kitty Cafe in Kennett Square has seen over 800 cats adopted since 2017 from this entirely unique oasis for people and pets alike.

Treetops Kitty Cafe is a sanctuary at the edge of the Kennett Square strip. Tucked away in the back corner of a shopping plaza, it would be easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there. Behind the front desk is an oasis for both the cats that call it home and the humans who know it as a haven from the outside world. For executive director Hannah April, it’s a little bit of both.

Since 2020, she’s served as the only full-time employee for the nonprofit that currently houses over a dozen older shelter cats. From the mean streets of Chester County to unwanted pet returns, these former house cats and strays have found a more stable environment rather than the shelters they would otherwise inhabit.

Treetops storefront
Treetops Kitty Cafe is tucked away in a Kennett Square shopping plaza.

The same is true for April, who worked in childcare pre-pandemic before the stresses of the industry overwhelmed her. Cats, she thought, would be easier than kids. Little did she know the toils that would arise running an animal-based nonprofit, especially in a post-COVID-19 world.

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“I think every day is a challenge,” April jokes, though it’s clear her love for the business and the cats is immense.

During the pandemic, adoption rates skyrocketed with so much of the world lonely in their homes. But as people went back to work, cats were often returned to packed shelters. Though Treetops doesn’t take animals directly from patrons and off the streets, the strain on the industry was apparent.

“Every chance I get, I’m driving to or having someone bring cats in to make sure that we’re helping keep their population down because if [shelters] are overcrowded, they euthanize. And we don’t want to see that happen,” says April.

Lounging in the cat tree.
Lounging in the cat tree.

With that in mind, Treetops’ priority since the current iteration of the storefront began in 2017, and even more so in recent years, has been older cats. Almost every shelter is full of adult cats. New pet owners generally want to start fresh with cute kitten with whom they can build a relationship, often leaving old cats stuck without a home.

That builds on an additional layer of stress for these pets, most of whom have come off the street or were the property of a now-deceased owner whose routines were familiar to them.

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“[Older cats are] terrified, and their owners had given them up and they had no idea what was going on because they’ve been with someone for like eight years, and then they’re just in a cage in a loud place that they’re just uncomfortable with,” April continues. “I wanted to give them a soft place to land until they find their next forever home.”

The 18 cats currently housed at Treetops are all adult cats, the underdogs, or undercats, of the pet adoption world.

One curious cat examines the camera.

“When cats get older, they start to develop their own personalities and I think you get a better sense of who they are when they’re an adult,” April says. “I just took a very special interest in them.”

Despite the myriad challenges and struggles that a place like Treetops is often overcome with, for the most part, the facility is that soft place for the cats. With dozens of high-quality toys and daily attention from visitors and April herself, the operation has mostly been run smoothly since April took over daily operations.

Yet fate, it seemed, had other plans. Across the Main Line area, Christmas 2022 brought gifts and hope as America began to leave the pandemic behind. For Treetops, however, it brought biblical disaster.

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“I felt helpless,” April recalls of being in the face of the flood that swept through Treetops.

That December, a neighboring unit’s faulty water meter burst when the temperature dropped below freezing. By the time April entered the shop the next day, about an inch and a half of water covered the floor in a semicircle. One cat jumped and played in the deluge while the others, confused, kept their distance perched atop half-soaked cat trees.

It was a heck of a Christmas present.

The vinyl floors were entirely ruined, the lounge area was destroyed and five or six expensive cat trees were also lost in the process. 

Treetops quickly put together a fundraiser for renovations while trying to find the cats currently living there foster homes. In the Christmas spirit, the community pitched in with a staggering amount of support. Between Facebook, Instagram and GoFundMe, thousands of dollars poured in to help.

Nearly a year later, Treetops has recouped almost 100% of its losses, but as any nonprofit or animal shelter will tell you, it’s always looking for more help. Without a larger governing body to oversee the business, Treetops still seeks donations, foster homes and volunteers.

Though April doesn’t anticipate another flood this year, there’s always more to do to keep Treetops running. Just like the cats the venue houses, not every day there is going to be perfect, but despite hardships, Treetops will persevere just the same.

“I would love for people to think of Treetops Kitty Cafe and just think of all of the animals that we’re giving a second chance to,” April says. “I think that it’s really important to recognize that not every animal is going to be perfect, and that we accept them for their flaws and we love them anyway.”

If you want to donate your time and/or money to help Treetops Kitty Cafe, click here for more information.

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