There’s no official guest list for Cee Cee’s bridal shower on Sunday. Anyone can drop in for an open house visit, and if they do, a gift, cash or check would be most welcome.
The donations will help Cee Cee, her fiancé Thrifty and all 160 cats cared for by Wayward Whiskers Animal Rescue based in Greensburg.
The event is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22 at the Cattfeinated Cat Café at 159 East Otterman Street. A wedding ceremony and open house reception are planned for Dec. 12.
“We’re still figuring out how crazy we want to get,” said Gabrielle Stewart, who’s been working with Wayward Whiskers founder Katelynn Jones of Hempfield Township since the rescue started five years ago.
Creativity is essential for nonprofits that canceled their major fundraisers because of COVID-19. Large groups are no longer permitted to gather in fire halls, banquet rooms, conference centers and all the places where they held bingos, cash bashes, basket raffles, dinners and other events that support good causes.
Stewart, who lives in Greensburg, has a background in event planning and did fundraising for United Way until the pandemic canceled so many things.
“That came at just the right time for me to really help Katelynn,” she said. “It’s been not only tough for small businesses, but also for nonprofits.”
The cat café, offering coffee, tea and pastries, opened last November to financially support the rescue and to let people meet the adoptable cats. Jones runs the café as a separate entity, and a rotating population of cats from Wayward Whiskers live in two different lounges, one for kittens and one for adults. The rescue’s other cats are in foster homes.
The café closed at the height of the pandemic.
“We had to cancel the large-scale fundraisers that we were doing,” Stewart said.
They picked up the slack with small projects like pull tab raffles and virtual events. They’re still holding them even after reopening in June under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. In-person activities including a paranormal program about hauntings in Greensburg, were held outdoors with social distancing and limited participation. Last month, people bought votes for kitties in costumes.
Nonprofits have had to adjust to keep from going under.
“People were still rightfully frightened to even come out, so we were doing smaller events,” Stewart said.
Then, as the old saying goes, one door closed and another opened when restrictions shut down a handful of bistro tables in one small room, leaving that space empty.
“That’s when the idea of the Thrifty Kitty Thrift Shop was born,” Stewart said. “It was at the right time when a lot of people who were home were cleaning out their closets and looking for a place to donate things. I have always loved thrift shops myself, so we thought we could make this work. It all started to come together.”
The Thrifty Kitty carries a changing inventory of housewares, decorations, jewelry, accessories and women’s clothes. Proceeds benefit the rescue.
Stewart runs the shop, and when a sickly orange cat was rescued off the streets, he spent his recovery time in the back room hanging around while she sorted and prepared merchandise.
They named him Thrifty.
One day, there was a new long haired cat at the rescue whose owner had passed away. Cee Cee was thin and scraggly, but when she came to Wayward Whiskers, Thrifty took up a vigil outside her cage.
He waited for her until she was ready to come out, and they have been inseparable ever since.
That’s when Jones and Stewart started planning a cat wedding.
But first came the engagement when Thrifty gave Cee Cee a fake-diamond studded collar that she hated until they took off the bell.
This weekend at the bridal shower, guests who bring gifts will get to visit the cats and kittens and get a free cupcake and discount coupon for the café and thrift shop.
Guests are also encouraged to bring gifts to the reception following the mock wedding, which will be officiated by Dr. Craig Hill of Green Hill Veterinary Care in Youngwood, the clinic for Wayward Whiskers cats.
After that, Thrifty and Cee Cee will be available for adoption. And although it would be nice if they could be adopted together, that’s not a requirement.
“After we have the wedding of the century, we’ll be doing the 12 Days of Christmas, which is a raffle basket give away from Dec. 13 to 24,” Jones said. “There’s also a donation tree for sponsoring a cat.”
Check out Cattfeinated Cat Café on Facebook for their Amazon wish list and for what’s happening there and online. These days, that’s the best way to keep in touch and to offer support to nonprofits that are struggling.
“People seem to be drawn to things that you can do virtually and that they see on social media,” Jones said.
“That’s helped to bring people in. It seems like interaction through social media is definitely imperative for our survival right now.”