The cats at the Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary and cat cafe in Green Bay, WI have a slew of devoted humans to serve them. You may recall the “Sleeping Cat Grandpa” story from last year that went viral. Terry Lauerman was photographed during his daily visits to the cafe where he’s happily fall asleep on the couch, covered in kitties. These photos helped the shelter raise thousands of dollars in donations!
In our previous story about the cat loving human servants at the cafe, Terry was sure to point out that he wasn’t the only one dedicated to the felines. The cafe has a loving “Cat Grandma” named Paula and their youngest supporter Octavia of Kinyoda Cats, who makes and sells cat toys to donate her earnings to the organization.
But now we’ve learned there are two more Cat Dads the cats are happy to share their furred-furniture with.
We are happy to introduce Jeremy Lang and Ryan Keenan!
One of the driving forces behind the organization itself is Jeremy.
For 2 1/2 years he managed the sanctuary, transforming not only the location, but himself in the process. He didn’t even believe he was a cat guy at first! You can see that misconception was corrected.
Owner, Elizabeth Mae credits Jeremy with giving her the push she needed to embrace her dreams.
“Jeremy has been here from the VERY beginning – He began this organization with me in my living room! I thought it was a crazy, and risky idea… and Jeremy convinced me to go for it! He quit his job to help build my “crazy idea”.”
Safe Haven was originally going to take on dogs as well, and Jeremy was going to be the manager of that area. He was a dog person! When Safe Haven couldn’t find a building adequate for both dogs and cats, he took over the position of cat care manager. Safe Haven later became close with Lucky 7 Dog Rescue and refers to them for anyone looking to surrender or adopt dogs.
He brought a silly and goofy persona to the sanctuary while helping to promote the needs of the cats. Never afraid to laugh at himself, he was happy to don a “furmiliar” face for the felines during Halloween.
Hilariously, Jeremy tended to bring out a human-like reaction from the cafes cats during their years together.
Soothing the “wild beasts” with his guitar, he was met with disapproving looks when he ended his purr-formances!
“I was playing and the orange one was sleeping next to me. When I stopped to get up he looked at me like this.”
Jeremy had unique bond with one of the feline residents at the cafe, Bootsie.
For Bootsie, Jeremy was the one person he allowed to break down the wall around his heart. Bootsie was a former feral who was so scared, he refused to let anyone near him for 6 months!
“Jeremy would sleep on the floor at Safe Haven next to him, and talk to him to try to make him more comfortable. Eventually, Bootsie came out – but ONLY for Jeremy. When he did, he was the sweetest cat ever. Jeremy continued to work with him, and eventually Bootsie began to allow pets from all kinds of strangers!”
Jeremy’s last day at the cafe was in August 2018, when he began the search for a job in his field (phlebotomy). Now he fills in when someone needs a day off and during events, but he was gifted a wonderful surprise from his girlfriend before leaving.
“SURPRISE! Jeremy took somebody with him on his last day. He’d been wanting to take him home for the LONGEST time. We said “Jeremy, you better say Goodbye to Bootsie, it’s the last time you’ll see him!” Little did he know, his girlfriend had already filled out the paperwork and they’d been approved to take him home.”
The Animal Care Manager Ryan Keenan, has also dedicated his heart to the cats at the cafe.
“One year ago I didn’t even own a cat. When Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary moved in next door, I saw how hard the founder was working by herself to take care of 30 cats for no pay. I couldn’t help but offer my time as a volunteer.
I started by taking over some of her night shifts and eventually began fostering adoptable cats in my business next door – The Eclectic Market – as shop cats, which eventually led to me adopting one of them, Belvedere! She’s a long haired black cat with a crooked jaw due to having her face caught in a trap. It makes it so that her tongue always hangs out on one side.”
Ryan has donated and installed much needed heavy duty shelving at the cafe and we all know cat food and litter aren’t light!
He also works with the kitties on a daily basis and volunteered over 300 hours in just 4 months time!
When a massive blizzard hit the Green Bay area in April of 2018, Ryan stepped up for not only the cats at the cafe but for the humans in need too.
“Ryan has spent this ENTIRE weekend (Friday night – Monday) taking care of 30 cats while the rest of us are stranded by the storm. On top of that, he’s been bringing Diesel and Brownie home with him, because they need round-the-clock care!”
“I just checked in to see how things were going. He said a homeless woman knocked on the door and asked for food. She’s currently shoveling our sidewalks for $15, and Ryan’s cooking a pizza in the toaster oven for her before she heads to the shelter. We are SO lucky to have him as our animal care manager! The world needs more people like Ryan!ﾟWe ended up with an awesome neighbor!“
Ryan’s bond with the cats has only grown stronger as the years go by.
Hannah, or “Grumpy Hannah” at times, wasn’t necessarily a fan of living with 20 other cats. But when Ryan (and previously Jeremy) were around, Hannah was a happy purring cat in the arms of her “boyfriends”.
Ryan has been accepted by the cats as a welcome place holder when Grandpa Terry isn’t visiting.
“As I spent more and more time with the cats at Safe Haven, I developed a love for the furry little creatures. They are amazing. I can’t believe that two years ago I wasn’t a cat person. I’ve always liked animals, but I never thought I’d sit down on a couch and have six cats try to sit with me at once. I am now currently the animal care manager. I open and close the shelter each day, feed the cats, and administer medication.”
But he isn’t there for just the snuggles and play times. Ryan opened his home for one cat when he needed a friend the most.
In January 2018, one of the semi-resident cats, Bing, a former feral cat who was shot in the face (!!!!) crossed the rainbow bridge with Ryan by his side. He had been fighting gastrointestinal issues and anemia, not reacting to the medications that he was on.
“Jeremy and Ryan have offered to work for FREE this week. They are donating their wages to Bing, and our other medical costs from the last few weeks. What a great couple of guys! We’re lucky to have them!”
As his final days were approaching, the cat cafe and Ryan knew they needed be there for Bing day and night.
“Bing has been extremely spoiled this last year with us. He enjoyed his foster home with Steve and Kathy out in the country where he could sit outside on his leash last fall. [Bing] also enjoyed spending his last night sleeping over at Ryan’s house so that he wouldn’t be alone. He was smiling as he fell asleep for good. RIP Binger. We love you.”
We’re very proud to share these two amazing men with the world and want everyone to know there is NO SHAME in being a Crazy Cat Guy!
If there were more of them, just imagine the kitty lives that would benefit from the love of a good man. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Jeremy, Ryan, Grandpa Terry and EVERYONE at the cat cafe that selflessly care for the cats of their area. <3
Here’s Ryan’s TV debut sharing the wonderful work of the local animal shelters he shares his community with. Great job!!!
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP; FOSTERING SAVES LIVES & SPAY AND NEUTER!