SAN ANTONIO – The first Cat Cafe in San Antonio was meant to be a place where people could pay to interact with cats that they could adopt for a fee. However, the cafe was temporarily closed after investigators with Animal Control Services checked on the health and safety of the estimated 50 cats that are there.
“They’re just making sure that I’m doing everything I need to do as any other animal care facility would,” said Casey Steuart, the owner of the cafe located in the rear of an industrial/retail park in the 10000 block of Sentinel Street.
Shannon Sims, assistant director of ACS, said he’s concerned about the number of cats in a single large room and its cleanliness, their veterinary care and access to food, water and shelter.
Sims said two cats were taken to a veterinarian for emergency care, while many others suffer from upper respiratory infections that are highly contagious among cats.
Steuart said she disputes reports that some cats were found with ringworm, a skin infection that can be transmitted to humans. She said she blames “a lack of communication and misinterpretations” among former employees.
Steuart said since she also has a full-time government job, “In their minds, maybe I didn’t care, maybe I wasn’t doing something, but they’re not here all those other hours.”
“It’s her I’m going to hold accountable. I’m not going to go and fix her staffing," Sims said about Steuart. “At the end of the day, we have to deal with the facts, not excuses. All the other stuff is pretty irrelevant to me.”
Sims said once corrections are made, Steuart will need an animal facility permit, but even then, she’ll be subject to surprise inspections and ACS will be monitoring any complaints.
Sims said the worst case scenario would be ACS executing a warrant to seize the animals, unless she’s able to bring the number of cats down and stay in compliance.