At 3:45 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, one of Houston’s most unusual businesses, El Gato Coffeehouse Cat Cafe in the Heights, was robbed.
The perpetrator cut through a widow with glass cutters to get in, circumventing the alarm system. An outdoor video camera recorded an image of the suspect but, according to the Houston Police Department, images captured outside, instead of inside where the crime occurred, provide insufficient evidence for a conviction. The thief was wearing a face covering and gloves. No fingerprints could be documented at the scene.
“The burglar stole about $250, some cat pins we had, and all the cash in our Friends for Life donation jar. But the worst part is that he didn’t shut the door. We had 10 cats in the coffeehouse. When we arrived that morning, six were still inside, but four were missing,” stated Renee Reed, owner of El Gato Coffeehouse Cat Cafe.
The cafe is celebrating its first year in business. Serving baked goods, and coffees to a growing number of regular customers, El Gato is also home to a dozen cats available for adoption at any given time. The cats roam the cottage and visit with customers providing endless companionship and entertainment.
The kitties have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped. In its first year, more that 100 formerly homeless cats have been adopted – a fact that makes the staff very proud.
Earlier in the same week of the robbery, the cafe launched its new partnership with the Friends For Life No-Kill Animal Adoption and Rescue Shelter located on E. 22nd St. in the Heights. All the cats are now supplied by Friends For Life, making the cafe entirely a local effort. It is an excellent match.
“We were so grateful to the Friends for Life volunteers those days after the break-in,” said Reed. “That first morning, we were able to capture three of the loose cats. Then, FFL volunteers block-walked, knocking on doors, and passing out photos of the one missing cat, Wink. I don’t know what we would’ve done without their help.”
Wink the cat was found after a week and a half on the loose and was excited to get back to her tuna. As for El Gato, its security system has been upgraded to one rivaling that of Fort Knox. “We love our cats. We will do whatever it takes to protect them,” Reed concluded.