A cat craze purrs through Asbury Park

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    Since starting a cat rescue in 2016, DJ Bornschein strives to do something each year to take his cat and noteworthy cause a step further, which is how Catsbury Park Cat Cafe and Tea Lounge came into existence in September 2017 and snowballed into the nonprofit’s first community event in April 2018.

    Expect more meows than ever as Asbury Park’s iconic Convention Hall and Paramount Theatre go crazy for cats for the second year in a row during Catsbury Park Cat Convention on Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14.

    WELCOME TO CATSBURY PARK CAT CONVENTION

    After the success of last year’s first Catsbury Park Cat Convention it only made sense to continue the event this year.

    “We went into it with the goal that if we could have a thousand people a day that would have been a success,” shared Bornschein, founder and owner at Catsbury Park Inc., Catsbury Park Cat Convention and Catty Corner Podcast.  

    That’s kind of what our mindset was going into it and we had over 5,000 over the weekend; about 2,800 on the Saturday and 24, 250 on the Sunday.”

    Since this is the second year of the convention, those in attendance can expect more additions and vendors on this year’s agenda.

    “Yeah, so we kind of expanded it quite a bit, which makes it equally as stressful as it was last year,” said Bornschein with a laugh. “It feels like year one all over again.

    “So last year we had 60-something vendors, this year we have over 110, so we’ve pretty much doubled our Vendor Village. This year we’ve added music elements to it so we have like a pre-party on the Friday night at the Wonder Bar with two cat themed bands. Our headliner for the entire event is a famous Internet cat, Lil BUB.”

    BEHIND LIL BUB

    For those who aren’t familiar with Lil BUB, Bornschein describes her as the most famous Internet cat other than Grumpy Cat. Lil BUB has a record out from the Lil BUB Band, which is based off the cat’s vibe.

    The Lil BUB Band will also be featured during the weekend specifically playing the Friday night pre-party to kickoff the cat crazed weekend along with a Cure cover band called The Love Cats featuring members of well known Jersey bands including Gaslight Anthem.

    According to Bornschein, the Friday night pre-party is new for this year and there will be another music element to the weekend that will take place on Saturday night at the Wonder Bar featuring the band Tragedy, which plays cat-themed songs.

    In addition, they’ve added a cat comedy show as well as a cat-themed magic show.  The big thing for Sunday night, according to Bornschein, is the addition of the Lil BUB BigShow, which is in essence a talk show similar to Letterman or Leno, but in this show Lil BUB is the host.

    “It’s a web series that Lil BUB did a couple years ago that has a couple million views on Youtube, he said. They had Whoopi Goldberg, Michelle Obama, Bryan Adams, like a lot of big name guests on it so we’re doing that in the theater on the Sunday night.”

    Aside from the exciting entertainment and event lineup one of the most noteworthy aspects of the event is its sheer cause and purpose.

    “Another important element of the event that I think is worth noting is that the event is a 100 percent nonprofit so all the proceeds get donated. So it’s basically one big fundraiser for Catsbury Park, which is a nonprofit,” said Bornschein.

    “And each year we pick four or five different charities and organizations that kind of fall in line with what we do that we like and support or work with and we make them a beneficiary of all of the proceeds. So it kind of gets split up between a couple different charities and all that information on what those charities do and who they are is on the website if you were interested in that.”

    THE BEGINNING OF CATSBURY PARK

    Whether you have sipped a latte with a purring kitten in your lap at a cat cafe or not, chances are you haven’t been to a cafe quite like Catsbury Park Cat Cafe and Tea Lounge.

    “Yeah, so Catsbury Park, we’re a cat cafe and adoption center so all of our cats that we have are available and up for adoption,” he shared. “They’re all rescued by us, Catsbury Park.

    “One way that Catsbury Park differs from most cat cafes in the United States is that we are our own rescue. So most cat cafes operate in a way that somebody owns and operates the cafe and then they kind of sublet the cat and adoption portion out to a local shelter.”

    Catsbury Park Cat Cafe is owned by Catsbury Park Inc., a 501(C)3 nonprofit, which means the entire cafe and operation is the rescue group.

    “We built it. Everything is all us. We have anywhere from 15 to 20 cats at a time,” expressed Bornschein. “They’re never caged or crated. They run free and they’re available for adoption and interacting and probably 90 percent of our customers aren’t looking to adopt.

    “They’re just looking to come in and have a good cup of coffee and spend some time with cats and relax and just kind of enjoy the cats’ company.”

    But for those who are interested in taking home a new furry friend or if you happen to fall in love with one, they are available for adoption. And at the end of the day adoption is what fuels Catsbury Park and all its components.

    “That’s our main mission is to find homes for cats that need them,” he said. “And we’ve been open just about 18 months and we’re well over 300 adoptions in 18 months. We do, I would say, on average, five adoptions a week.”

    If you’re curious as to where the adoptable cats come from you certainly are not alone. According to Bornschein, they work with a couple of different groups in the area that pull cats on behalf of Catsbury Park.

    He explained that a couple of women that they work with will drive all over New Jersey finding shelters that are overrun or don’t have space or cats that are considered unadoptable or are on a euthanasia list. They will then pull the cats and bring them to Catsbury Park.

    “We’ve had really good success getting cats that are considered less adoptable in a shelter environment adopted.”

    In addition, he shared that about 10 to 20 percent of the cats are rescued by them through someone sending a message that there are kittens in their backyard or Bornschein himself going and meeting somebody on the side of the road in the middle of the night to rescue a kitten that was found.

    “I was at dinner on Saturday night and somebody I know who owns a farm in South Jersey said they found a very young kitten and didn’t know what to do with it,” he shared. “So I picked it up on the side of the road in Jackson at 1 a.m. and we get her medically up to date, get some meds in her, get her healthy, get her socialized, she’s only about five weeks old. And when she’s healthy and vaccinated and a little bit older we’ll bring her into the lounge.”

    THE FUTURE OF CATSBURY PARK CAT CONVENTION

    According to Bornschein, it was the success of Catsbury Park and the response they received from the community and customers that ultimately led them to host last year’s convention.

    “ … We realized there’s such a big community of cat lovers and animal lovers in the area and people that support what we do,” he shared.” It was a way to kind of give back to them as well as broaden our reach of what we do.”

    The future is bright and full of promise for Catsbury Park as the intention is to keep growing and helping as many cats as possible.

    “I mean, the idea is we’ll just do it every year and it will grow and it will change over time and we’ll add different elements and take ones away and bring in different famous Internet cats… But, yeah, if we can continue to have the success that we had last year or obviously greater success then we hope to be able to do it for many, many years to come.”