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story.lead_photo.caption Liv Paggiarino/News Tribune Sheila Martens, director of People Helping Paws Cat Rescue, stands in the space that will become Baristocats Cat Cafe. She is currently working and soliciting donations of labor and resources to renovate, and hopes to open in May. The cafe will partner with Campfire Coffee for products and the foster-based nonprofit will alternate its cats between foster homes and the cafe.

Cat and coffee lovers, rejoice — a new café on Jefferson City's east side may soon be your favorite spot.

People Helping Paws Cat Rescue is in the process of opening Baristocats Cat Café at 702 E. McCarty St. Sheila Martens, rescue director, said they hope to open in early May to host the annual Kitten Shower fundraiser, which benefits the local nonprofit, foster-based rescue.

The location makes sense, as Martens noted the building is attached to Premium Pets, the pet supply store with two Jefferson City locations. The 1,800-square-foot facility does need some work to make it safe for volunteers, customers and, of course, the cats, Martens said. The organization is hoping to rely on volunteers and donations to help with the remodeling, she said, noting without donations, one estimate for the work was about $55,000.

"Hopefully, much of the labor and materials will be donated or offered at a reduced cost by companies or individuals with skills matching our needs," Martens said. "We will have a donor wall recognizing those who donate labor and materials."

Martens said the most pressing needs are architectural services, flooring such as concrete overlay or epoxy, electrical and plumbing work, and lighting and cabinetry. The building also will need a security system and CCTV system to keep an eye on the cats, as well as several large appliances, Martens said. And that's all in addition to the standard construction materials and labor, plus final furnishings, including for the cats.

"We also need monetary donations to help pay for the things we cannot get donated," she added.

Martens said the organization will update the community on what's needed throughout the remodel process through its Facebook page.

People Helping Paws Cat Rescue focuses on the most critical cats, Martens said, such as nursing orphans, injured or ill cats or those in immediate danger.

"The cats stay with foster families until their 'furever' family can be found," she said. "We also work to keep pets with their families by providing short-term help with food and supplies to prevent them from going to a shelter."

Once the café is open, Martens said, cats will alternate between living at their foster home and staying at the café for several days at a time. It's an opportunity for the "adoptable cats" to get more exposure to the public, Martens said, but it's also a way for them to learn about being in a loving home. All of the cats at the café will be available for adoption, she said.

"Once you get your coffee and pastry from the coffee shop you can come into the cat lounge and relax with the cats while enjoying your treats," she said, noting the lounge will have a separate entrance.

Martens said the group has partnered with Campfire Coffee, a local company that roasts the beans in small batches over an open wood fire. The café will have specials for a coffee, pastry and lounge entrance combination, she said, as well as a loyalty program for frequent customers. The lounge also will be available for rent for meetings and events, she added.

In addition to the café, Martens said the spot will be an outpost for the group's pet supply pantry. She said they also hope to hold some low-cost vaccine clinics, though that depends on getting a veterinarian to donate services every few months, as well as some educational events for children.

"We are so excited to be able to help more cats and people with the addition of Baristocats to Jeff City," Martens said.

If anyone is willing to help with labor, materials or financial donations, contact People Helping Paws Cat Rescue on Facebook or by email at [email protected] Monetary donations also may be made via PayPal at, by using the donation button on the organizations' Facebook page or by mailing donations to PO Box 6971, Jefferson City MO 65102.

Martens said Premium Pets also is offering gift cards that can be purchased and left at the shop for use by the rescue.

"We are a volunteer-based organization with no paid staff, so all donations go directly to help the animals," Martens said.

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