New cat lounge provides refuge for rescue cats, stressed students

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Courtesy El Jefe | The Daily Wildcat A resident of El Jefe Cat Lounge.

One of these things is not like the other: Jupiter, Pandora, Juniper, Loti — and Potato.

These five names are just a few of the many adoptable rescue cats looking for homes while staying at the new El Jefe Cat Lounge in Tucson.

El Jefe is located at 3025 N. Campbell Ave., Suite 141, and opened to the public Oct. 31.

According to its website, El Jefe gets its name from “the most famous cat in town,” a jaguar of the same name that has been spotted periodically on the trails of the Santa Rita Mountains since 2011.

The second story activity room at El Jefe Cat Lounge.
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Cafe owner Tiffany Lee said that she was inspired to start the business because of her positive experiences at other lounges, like La Gattara Cat Lounge and Boutique in Tempe.

Lee said that after having a bad day, “it was nice to go to the [La Gattara] Cat Lounge. I immediately relaxed and cheered up.”

On her decision to pursue a business in Tucson, Lee found the college town aspect to be an attractive feature.

“I thought it'd be good for students that have just moved here and they had to leave their pets at home,” Lee said. “It'd be a good place to study.”

All the feline residents of the lounge are up for adoption through Hermitage Cat Shelter, according to El Jefe employee Victoria Brown.

Brown, a studio art major at the University of Arizona and Lee’s daughter, designed the intricate El Jefe logo.

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A resident of El Jefe Cat Lounge.

According to Lee, Hermitage Cat Shelter provides the lounge with the most social and even-tempered cats that will fit in not only with human visitors to the lounge but with the other feline residents.

“We’re giving [the cats] a nice, homely environment,” Brown said. “You get to see them and their real personalities.”

But Lee expressed her wish to expand her vision in the future to cats that might be overlooked in traditional shelters.

“We are talking and exploring the idea of partitioning this third level off and bringing in some FIV cats because there's a stigma to them,” Lee said.

According to WebMD, cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, can still live healthy lives and cannot spread the disease to humans.

According to Lee, FIV-positive cats tend to stay in shelters for their whole lives because of the negative stigma around their condition. But according to Lee, El Jefe provides a unique opportunity for helping afflicted cats.

In the future, El Jefe could offer people the chance to interact with animals afflicted with disease.

“People are going to fall in love with them and they're going to find owners quicker,” Lee said.

Lavelle sells prepackaged drinks and snacks.
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According to Janice Reed, a Hermitage Shelter volunteer, lounges like El Jefe provide a different adoption experience. 

In a traditional shelter setting, “It’s hard to make a connection,” Reed said. “… [At El Jefe], you get to see the cats in a less stressful environment. They can just relax. It’s like being in a home.”

According to Lee, UA students can get 20% off their admission to the cafe by using the code WILDCAT online when making reservations or showing their CatCard in person at El Jefe.

According to Lee, El Jefe offers a variety of cat-centered events and activities, including yoga, meditation, comedy nights and movie nights. Lee also hinted at special events around finals for stressed students, to be announced on their website.

Lee’s vision for the lounge is simple: community relaxation.

“I really want it to be a place to relax and to let go,” Lee said. “It's hard to be upset when you've got a cat in your face.”

To explore El Jefe’s events and make reservations, visit their website.


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