A Sanctuary Cafe Logo with botanical border

It’s Officially the Holiday Season!

November 16, 2022| Issue 4

Halloween on the Hill window display

Hello Friends,

We have officially entered the holiday season! At Halloween on the Hill we saw a fantastic range of costumes (and learned that both kids and adults pick chocolate over caramel 3:1!) and we’re already brainstorming ideas for the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll on December 1. Hope to see you there!

In this newsletter we share new details about our plans for the cats at A Sanctuary Cafe and answer the second-most-asked question we receive (after “when will we open?”): will the cats be adoptable? You can find our answer below, along with new book reviews and other news!

Also, a friendly reminder: If you’re a Beacon Hill resident and would like to help us get approved at the Zoning Board of Appeal hearing, please scroll down to find an easy-to-submit letter of support for our project. We are so grateful for the enthusiastic community support we continue to receive!

Halloween on the Hill window display

Kampbell, a future permanent resident of the cat lounge, with his favorite toy.

Brittany's Cat Corner: Why I Have Decided to Have Permanent Resident Cats (Part 1 of 2)

FAQ 1: Why do you think a stable population of resident cats will have a higher quality of life at the cafe than a series of adoptable cats?

No one likes stress, but cats are particularly sensitive to it. Most cats do not like big changes, and they find new spaces particularly stressful. I want the cafe cats to be their most fabulous, confident selves, and I plan to leverage everything I’ve learned while working to reduce cats’ stress in shelter environments to create the best possible cat lounge space.

Since we will be introducing these cats to new, adoring fans every day, making the rest of their lives as predictable and enjoyable as possible is extremely important. This means knowing their space, knowing the other cats, and knowing their schedule and main caregivers. We won't open until we're confident that the cats have settled into the space and are comfortable with their cat companions. 

Having a permanent cat population also means that everyone on our team will know every cat extremely well! This means we’ll be able to keep them appropriately supplied with their favorite food and toys, and also quickly identify any small behavior changes that might mean there's a larger medical or behavioral issue that needs to be addressed (e.g., could a slight change in a cat's chewing mean a possible dental issue? has a cat stopped visiting a favorite high perch for a behavioral or medical reason?).

FAQ 2: My cat/a cat I know would be completely miserable in this environment! How will you make sure the “right” cats are selected?

Through my weekly volunteering at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, I've interacted with thousands of cats and done focused behavior work with hundreds. This has taught me so much about the incredible spectrum of personalities and needs cats may have! I completely agree that many cats would not be a good fit for this environment, such as the ones who:

- hide under the bed when anyone knocks on the door

- need a quiet household

- need to be an only cat (or are very selective about the cats they like)

But I have also met quite a few cats over the years who:

- run to greet everyone, including strangers

- love spending time with other cats 

- like to be at the center of everything, even if it's a bit loud/chaotic

The cats selected for A Sanctuary Cafe will be cats who thrive in a livelier atmosphere (though they'll still have plenty of perches/safe spaces for those times when they want a break!). 

From the safety of this enormous front window, cats can do as much bird (and people/car/world) watching as they’d like. There are also two quieter spaces downstairs, one open to customers and one employees/cats-only, for peaceful recharging or hardcore napping. 

Our number one goal for this space is to provide the best possible home for these cats. We want them to live their best lives and be their best selves for their own sake. We also believe this will provide the best experience for visitors, making our plans for A Sanctuary Cafe's cat lounge space a true win-win situation!

In Part Two, we’re excited to answer these additional commonly asked questions:

- Most cat cafes have adoptable cats to save lives! Isn’t that important to you? (Short answer: yes!)

- If you aren't adopting out cats, are there other ways you'll be supporting local animal rescues? 

- But wouldn’t all of these cats still be happier in a traditional home environment? 

Still Impatiently Waiting for Us to Open? (Us Too!) Beacon Hill Residents Can Help!

We are very excited to have finally made it onto the schedule for a Zoning Board of Appeal hearing, and if you live in Beacon Hill, you can help us get through this step! The ZBA will factor in letters of support when making their decision on granting us the zoning relief we need to have cats and a cafe at 80 Charles Street. If you live in the neighborhood, please consider clicking the button below! 

Send a Letter of Support

Book Reviews

We haven’t included any reviews since the first newsletter, so we hope it’s okay that we gave ourselves permission to pick two this time. (This was still a very hard decision when there have been so many incredible books published recently!) So (final decision), Pick One: Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty, since in addition to this month being Native American/Indigenous Heritage Month, this amazingly powerful book also won the 2022 New England Book Award for Fiction. And Pick Two: Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris, an all-time favorite author.

Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

In my “Why I’m Excited to Read This” Bookshop.org preview I wrote: “I was immediately drawn to the title and gorgeous cover of this collection of stories from Tin House. Seeing its local New England setting (a Penobscot Native community in Maine) and the rave reviews by indigenous authors I respect (Tommy Orange, Brandon Hobson, Terese Marie Mailhot) cemented my interest.”

This wasn’t an easy read—many of the stories address difficult topics like intergenerational trauma and addiction—but these are important stories that Talty tells extraordinarily well. While officially a collection of short stories, they are all structured around one character (David/Dee) as past and present experiences spiral in to a defining moment in his family’s life. Highly recommended for people looking for truly excellent literary fiction or up-and-coming/fresh new voices.

Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris

In my “Why I’m Excited to Read This” Bookshop.org preview I wrote: “It is a testament to my deep, deep love of everything David Sedaris writes that I brought this nightmare-inducing book cover into my house.” 

I’ve loved Sedaris’s work for nearly 20 years; his ability to sniff out the absurd in every situation and make me laugh out loud makes me eagerly anticipate each new essay collection. I also deeply admire and appreciate his growth over time as a writer: with each new collection, his essays have included more and deeper layers of meaning and poignancy to go with his signature humor. I think this may be one of his best, most honest books yet. Every line flows exactly right and feels effortless to read while he expertly juggles the funny and dark moments in a series of essays that grapple with both the pandemic and the death of his extremely difficult father.“Unbuttoned” and “Pussytoes” are particular standouts for me. 

P.S. I still can’t handle the deeply creepy cover image, but I discovered the book underneath is a lovely sky blue if you remove the dust jacket!

Book News: Employee Strike at Publisher HarperCollins

A Sanctuary Cafe is a benefit corporation that is committed to providing living wages for all of its employees. We support HarperCollins union workers as they strike for a new contract that includes a living wage and family leave benefits. Read NPR’s coverage, the union’s press release or donate to their strike fund.

Currently Reading

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Lydia Maria Child: A Radical American Life by Lydia Moland

Visit Our Bookshop.org Storefront!

Part of Lydia Maria Child’s remarkable life was spent living in Beacon Hill!

Important Dates

Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll

Charles Street

Thursday, December 1

Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing


Sunday, December 6

9:30 am

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A Sanctuary Cafe logo with book, cat and coffee pot