Rare Diagnosis Inspires First Cat Café in the Hudson Valley

By on January 21, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 10, 2016- Red Hook, NY. Veteran animal rescuer Bobbi Jo Forte is diagnosed with a rare brain tumor then launches a plan to open the first Cat Café in the Hudson Valley.

Bobbi Jo Forte, age 42, has been rescuing animals since her early twenties. Ten of those years were saving dogs from the euthanasia list in Arizona’s county shelters. The past 11 years has been spent helping feral and orphaned cats in her home town of Red Hook, NY. With the help of her daughter Morgan age 9, they rescued, fostered, and found homes for hundreds of kittens and cats.
In the fall of 2014 Morgan and Bobbi Jo were struck with viral meningitis (unrelated to cat rescue). While they both recovered slowly from this trauma, Bobbi Jo was still not feeling well by spring. After a visit to the neurologist and a battery of tests, in June 2015 Bobbi Jo was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor known as “Vestibular Schwannoma” with “brain stem irritation”, a potentially fatal condition if not treated with brain surgery or radiation. Unable to continue rescue Bobbi Jo stopped helping animals for the first time in over 20 years. Shortly after Gamma Knife Surgery at NY Presbyterian in August of 2015 Bobbi Jo began to feel the full wrath of what a brain tumor can do to the body and mind. Unable to work full time or do rescue Bobbi jo became depressed, exhausted, and began experiencing painful abdominal seizures- a side effect post radiation. The realization that she may not live to see her daughter grow up became real.
In September of 2015 the River Chronicle, a local newspaper, ran a story about Bobbi Jo’s fight. The article inspired donations from around Dutchess County. For one couple, Bobbi Jo’s story hit home. Albrecht Pichler and Margrit Lohrer had been adopting kittens from Bobbi Jo for years. Margrit, known worldwide for her knitting patterns and wool, was losing her battle to Ovarian Cancer and was given just two weeks to live at the time of the story. Albrecht and Margrit invited Bobbi Jo to their home to present her with a gift. This gift would ultimately lead to the inspiration of Morgan’s Cat Café.
On the morning of October 8, 2015 Margrit Lohrer and Bobbi Jo met. Margrit gave her a gift in an envelope and they talked for a couple of hours about life. During their conversation Margrit offered Bobbi Jo her words of wisdom. Margrit’s 70 years on this earth taught her a few things that were worthy of sharing. Margrit’s words and gift of $10,000 would give Bobbi Jo the spark of hope and inspiration she needed to return to rescue and create the legacy she wanted for herself and her daughter. The following week Albrecht, Margrit, and Bobbi Jo discussed a future rescue. Bobbi Jo wanted Margrit to name it. Margrit’s dying wish was that the rescue would be in Morgan’s name sake- and so it is.
Bobbi Jo says “it was surreal and extremely emotional to have had this conversation with Margrit just days before her passing…I am forever grateful to her and Albrecht”.

Since then Morgan’s Cat Café has become a reality. The nonprofit rescue and adoption organization is set to open at 35 West Market Street in Red Hook, NY 12571. It will be the first Cat Café north of NYC. Albrecht was one of the first to donate and the group has raised $13,000 so far with a starting goal of $50,000. Using crowdfunding the group hopes to raise all of the funds needed to open the doors www.gofundme.com/MorgansCatCafe

Morgan’s Cat Café will be a unique destination to enjoy adoptable kittens and cats and have a cup of coffee or tea with friends. The café will also serve cat shaped cookies, cupcakes, and other tasty treats. The organization will also offer “Cat Therapy Sessions” which allow patrons to purchase “alone time” with cats. Bobbi Jo states “cats are proven stress relievers and this concept is just as healing for people as it is for the cats”. In fact the slogan used by thee group is “Saving Cats & People One Cup of Coffee At A Time”. Other fun activities will include “Singles Nights for Cat Lovers”, “Kiddy Cat Art Classes”, and much more. Bobbi Jo refers to the Café as “a place to experience guaranteed joy”. The group will also continue its rescue efforts with a focus on local feral colonies. They will seek private donations, grant money, and other funding sources to provide the veterinary services and supplies needed to reach a goal of “No Homeless Cats in Red Hook”.

Morgan’s Cat Café will feature the first artisan Vegan Café within the space. This is a unique feature not available in other Cat Café’s.
The projected opening date for Morgan’s Cat Café is March 14th,2016.

To reach Bobbi Jo Forte please email morganscatcafe@gmail.com or txt 914-406-0441. The organization’s website is www.MorgansCatCafe.org .

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