Boston Cat Cafe “Purr” Is The Biggest Litter Box Fire You’ll Ever See
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I want you to imagine a woman so far gone that she starts typing on her business page, threatening to sue her haters, as her cat.
I’m not embellishing. This is real life.
Quick note: In my year working here, and my several decades on this planet, I have never seen anything like this story. I almost can’t believe it’s happening down the street in Brighton.
Buckle up Turtles, we’re going for a trip down batshit-fuckall-crazy highway.
To make things easier for the readers I’m breaking this blog in to several parts because of how much has transpired. It took me all week to gain a firm grasp on the level of coo-coo nutfucks you’re about to read. Just when you think you’ve seen the craziest shit you’ve ever seen – the owner takes it to a new level one flew over the litter box.
There is no way, short of a snowstorm or being bedridden, you’ll be able to get through it all with your morning coffee, lunch break, or even ignoring your kids during dinner. I’ll be publishing the additional parts each morning at seven and linking them to this article. I also broke the blogs themselves in to chapters for easy following. This is the first professional telling of this saga. Some of the local papers have made bland mentions of what has happened, mostly reporting about the owner delaying the opening date like 900 times. Others have captured it through screenshots on IMGUR, Reddit and Tumblr. (Thanks Michelle!) We’re the first ones to organize it into a fluid piece. The quality of some of the pictures is less than optimal as they have been screenshot so many times they look a little fuzzy. Diane deactivated the PURR Facebook page after Turtleboy was tagged. I’ll let you know if she returns.
What The Hell Is A Cat Cafe?
Now, before I get to the good part, I should probably explain the type of business this story is centered around. I found myself confused when people started sending it in because I had never heard of the concept.
There is a growing trend of people opening up what they call “Cat Cafes.” They originated in Thailand and quickly gained popularity in the UK and US. The idea is to find a storefront, fill it with comfortable places to sit, have a cup of coffee, possibly a muffin, and play with adoptable cats. You pay an hourly fee and that’s how the business is supposed to generate revenue. The cats, from what I’m told, are usually provided though a partnership with local rescues and are typically all up for adoption. It’s supposed to give people a nice place to hang out while introducing the cats to prospective families. It requires the business and rescues to work together as the business can’t adopt out the cats to families.
There wasn’t a cat cafe anywhere in Boston. So when Diane Kelly (the insane hag starring in this blog) announced she was opening one in Brighton – people, namely self-proclaimed crazy cat people, were excited. Cat yoga? Cat speed dating? CAT CRAFTS!? Meow exciting!
Sarcasm aside, I can’t knock the premise even though I’m not a cat person. They make me itchy and don’t have eyebrows – they just have shit sticking out of their face. Regardless of my own preference for woofers, I can easily get behind anything that safely gives homeless animals the opportunity to belong to someone and feel loved. I don’t think I’d be wild about food being served with cats walking around, as they shed and walk in litter boxes, but they could make a designated area to avoid the food safety issues. It’s possible. Many cat cafes around the world are doing it successfully as we speak.
Now that you’re aware of what the business is supposed to be – let me tell you about how PURR in Brighton turned in to the most glorious dumpster fire of “holy crap this can’t be real” I’ve ever seen – EVEN BEFORE opening it’s doors.
How To Fail Before You Even Begin
Diane Kelly, the owner of this soon-to-fail business, is from Hull and she spent her life in the medical field. She admits to having no animal experience at all. Well, outside of calling herself a “CATenthusiast.”
I wonder if that comes with a certificate or something? My guess is it’s probably just the consolation prize of a lonely life, suffering feverishly through menopause, with nothing but merlot-stained teeth and a lint brush to keep you company.
Diane seems to have had a midlife crisis, left her job of 20 plus years, and took off to North Carolina to learn how to groom critters. When that didn’t work out she started looking for something else. She says she had visited a cat cafe in New York, where she adopted one of her feline companions, and the experience inspired her to start a cafe of her own in the hipster den that is Brighton.
She managed to get her storefront going and began hiring experienced staff – picking people who had years of knowledge of cat health, needs, and behavior.
She then began a relationship with a cat rescue called Boston Forgotten Felines (BFF). She would provide the cafe, including a happy and safe place for the cats to temporarily live, in return, the rescue would bring the animals in. PURR started a partnership with Aristocat Designs, a luxury cat furniture company, to provide scratch towers and other fun structures for the furpals.
As far as Diane’s plan for food and beverages to be served? Welp, unlike every other cat Cafe on the planet, she said didn’t have one. Her webpage stated at least beverages, such as tea and coffee, would be offered. Instead, she claimed to make partnerships with surrounding restaurants, with the idea the staff would order your food for you (or some shit) and have it delivered. Yes, I’m aware of how poorly thought out and fucking awkward that is. Please remind yourself we aren’t dealing with a sane person with business experience here.
There was supposed to be two parts of the cafe. The storefront, which served customers and allowed them to interact with the cats – and the basement, that was meant to be a cozy environment for the animals to hide away if they had enough of people.
The cafe upper-level came together fine. I mean… sure, it looked like a Claire’s store from the 90’s puked it up, with enough hot pink and tiger patterns to make Gwen Stefani, in her No Doubt days, wince – but at least it happened.
The downstairs, however, was cold, barren, unwelcoming, unsafe, and completely unsuitable for cats to live in, according to the cat specialists Diane had hired. Cats could crawl behind laundry machines, in to the unfinished ceiling, through holes in the drywall, and would be walking around on cold cement floors. There was no heat, adequate shelter, bed, towers, windows, or toys.
No matter what anyone said to Diane, or how many times she promised it was a work in progress, she wouldn’t fix the basement. She would lie and deflect when asked online. Promise pictures and never come through.
My guess is her refusal to complete the basement was a combined issue of her total lack of understanding when it came to animal needs and business knowledge and/or she ran out of money buying cutsie dumb shit for the upstairs.
It’s my belief this is why she, even though she’s not a nonprofit, started a GoFundMe and IndieGoGo campaign for $40k. Basically she needed everything under the sun to open the business, from employee wages to cat food, litter to cash registers, and she wanted EVERYONE ELSE to pay for it.
I should also mention that she actually enlisted the help of volunteers, as in paid them nothing, even though she was a for-profit business. She preyed upon people’s desire to help cats for her own greed.
Don’t worry! You’ll get a sticker and free admission to a business that will probably never open as a thank you for donating!
Mind you, the campaigns only garnered a little over $8k – and that was before contributors began demanding refunds from the crowdfunding site for their donations. Seems they didn’t like the buzz on the street and never got their promised items for donating.
Diane even began an ask me anything site to answer questions about the IndieGoGo campaign and the cafe but, once the hard questions started coming in, she locked it.
So much for full disclosure! Just give her your money and keep your mouths shut. The negativity is negative! Oh the humanity!
Meow. Meow. WTF. PURR.
Diane would post these “exciting pictures” of the cafe in progress, saying they were going to open soon. Each time she would give a date for the big opening – she’d cancel it and push it back further. Even when she would post an open house, people would show up, and the place would be dark. She never even notified people of her canceling. You can imagine how well that went over.
She aggressively tried to get people to buy gift cards and admission ahead of time when she had no idea when customers could actually use them and had no point of sale equipment to swipe them with.
It became apparent there was something wrong. There was – homegirl didn’t have any rescue cats at the cat cafe.
The only animals present to hang out with, if she ever opened, were her own cats and not up for adoption. She DID manage to get three foster cats to start from Boston’s Forgotten Felines but that was short-lived.
When folks from the rescue saw the basement, when they were dropping off the rescue cats, they were appalled.
Until the basement was habitable there was no way they would give her more.
Without the cats, her cafe was nothing more than a barren, pink, nightmare.
Diane grew angry and frustrated the rescue wasn’t coughing up animals for her. Why would they when she wasn’t fulfilling her end of the deal?
Diane didn’t seem to understand the responsibilities of a rescue are to the welfare of the animals, as they should be, and not to make sure Diane’s bismuth-colored abomination was filled to the brim with homeless critters. BFF couldn’t, in all good conscious, leave more cats with her.
This displeased Diane, who her cats refer to as “The Crazy Hooman” when they are updating the company social media page, and she (or the cats) began to post about being bullied and blaming her failures on everyone else. Most people, even a typical domesticated feline with the magic ability to type, would do this in private. Not Diane and clearly not her cats.
Because Diane wasn’t getting what she wanted, she allegedly told Boston’s Forgotten Felines to “fuck off” several times, complained about them being unreliable, broke their partnership, and decided to go with another shelter. This was despite warnings from her staff about this being a huge mistake.
Once she did – BFF came and confiscated the three cats they had left with PURR.
The rescue professionally remained quiet as to why they broke ties.
Diane’s brilliant idea was to trash them all over social media.
Regardless of Diane’s obnoxious deflections – her website and IndieGoGo claimed she was still partnered with BFF. This pissed people off since this false information was one of the reasons people donated to the campaign. There was no way the cafe could be successful if it didn’t have cats.
Cats, Lies, and Video Tape
Diane’s lack of professionalism caused people to question what the hell was going on, the truth vs lies, and her responses became more and more … well… Jesus, I don’t even have a word for it. Unprofessionally frantic? Completely and totally psychotic break-ish? Immaturely Manic? Take your pick. It seemed to many people that she was drinking a box (or five) of wine before jumping on social media.
Little did we know that things were far more unhinged than we originally thought. Diane’s most recent General Manager, Kathleen Grace, who quit on August 18th, had enough of watching the CATenthusiast bullshit her way though making people think the cafe was gearing towards success, opening soon, and safely swimming in cats.
Kathleen, who is still owed upwards of $2k in unpaid wages, is the reason we know the true story of everything you just read. She made a damning statement that Diane tried to delete. Needless to say – all hell broke loose.
Yes, Diane is a very smart business woman. Who wouldn’t want to pay to sit in the equivalent of a thirteen year-old girl’s locked bedroom, play with her cats, and starve?
It actually reminds me of a business plan Elmira from Tiny Toons would put together.
When Diane’s response was to deny, insult, and name call instead of owning up to what she stood accused of, Kathleen took to her own page to prove what she had witnessed.
Kathleen clearly had enough of the shit. Diane continued to deflect all of the accusations, going as far as to delete legitimate questions, and stating that she would only speak to the media or over the phone to answer questions.
Diane chose to push forward – thinking if she just kept posting happy crap the wolves on social media would just go away. She was brutally wrong and began telling lie after lie in an effort to get them to bugger off and donate more money.
The first lie she was caught in was when she claimed she has solidified a new rescue. Little did she know the entire cat rescue community had turned their backs on her. Not a single rescue would touch her with a ten foot pole.
When that didn’t work, she came up with a great solution to force people to believe she had found a rescue:
She had ripped a kitten picture off of Google and claimed that she had rescued it. It’s too bad that a reverse search showed the kitten was from a Arizona rescue circa 2002.
Can we just take a second and acknowledge how absolutely bonkers that is? WHO DOES THAT?
Someone, probably one of the last employees left standing, must have permeated Diane’s thick skull after the blow back of the Polka Dot fib fiasco, and took control of the social media immediately after that. For a split second there was a moment of professionalism. As you can see there is no talking as a cat or insane MEOW MEOW PURR. Just someone making sense.
People weren’t fooled. They hadn’t had their questions about the welfare of the cats answered. The person behind the status update told everyone that they wanted to hear. PURR, unsurprisingly, didn’t follow through.
Then, after what I’d like to imagine was a fight to the death for control of the Facebook page, with Diane swinging a pink fuzzy machete, screaming MEOW MEOW PURR as she rubbed catnip on her snatch and beat her fists on her bare chest, the professional being, who had given so many people hope things were back on track, was gone. Gussie, Diane’s cat, had regained control of PURR’s social media and came back with a furry pissed-off vengeance.
The cat people, who had been following the business with bated breath, lost their fucking minds with anger. BFF is registered with the Commonwealth. Because Diane was looking for any way out of taking responsibility for her own demise, by sacrificing the welfare of animals for profit, she tried to throw a legitimate rescue under the bus with an enormous lie.
You’d think Diane would call it quits after getting called out on her latest lie.
Gussie the cat, now claiming he was his owner’s representation and she had spent his college fund (SCREAM) on the cafe, was going to sue. The cat had been taking screenshots to prove that the business was being harrased – after his owner spent the previous week lying about everything and trashing a legitimate rescue.
I. Meow. Kid. You. Meow. Fucking. Not. Purr.
The only inaccurate statements on their page were from Diane herself.
When I first began reading about this debacle I had to pick my jaw out of my lap after this last part. I couldn’t believe a woman had such huge potential for a business and lit it on fire. I thought there was no way it could possibly get any worse.
I have never EVER been more wrong in my life.
We will watch Diane slut-shaming her former manager, apologize for it, slut-shame her again, apologize again, threaten to sue her, find out she tried to send her staff to lie to the MSPCA and fake-adopt animals to fill the cafe, threaten to close the business (no meow, meow, purr for Boston!) for good, take a peek inside what it was like working for crazy Diane through hysterical emails I shouldn’t have laughed at but did, and how she partnered with a guy who thinks gassing Jews is funny.