The past couple of years have been a time of change and reflection for many people as they dealt with pandemic-related challenges. Although the circumstances may not have been happy, making the most of a situation can make things easier.
For many years, Angie Ily ran her own business to support herself through college, then got into the corporate world for the next nine years doing project management and business development. During the pandemic, she sold her homemade macarons a couple times a month at flea markets to help fund her pet- rescue efforts. It combined two of her passions — macarons and cat rescue.
Like a lot of folks during this time, she was contemplating what to do next as the world was changing. She loves macarons, but making them can prove challenging, so opening a bakery might not be prudent. She also wasn’t sure if she wanted to head back into the corporate world or run a small business. “Both come with perks and stresses,” she says.
She asked herself, “What have I never gotten bored with?” The answer — working with cats!
“I have been doing TNR [trap-neuter-return] and rescue for over 17 years, starting back when I was in college in NYC. In New York, TNR and cat rescue is ingrained in the culture, so it was a natural progression for me having lived there most of my adult life.”
A one-stop shop for cats
Angie decided to open a retail store to serve the needs of cats. The Kitty Bodega opened on March 1 in Houston, Texas, where she now resides.
“I strive to provide a place cat owners can go to and ask just about anything as it relates to their cats, and get sensible and, hopefully, helpful feedback,” Angie says. “It’s also a place where people are encouraged to share their own lessons learned as a cat caretaker. What one person shares with me today may end up helping another person who walks in the store tomorrow.”
Whether a cat has health issues like picky eating, scarf-and-barfing or gastrointestinal problems, or behavior problems like litter box avoidance or separation anxiety, the store specializes in anything cat.
While the store is still new, Angie is hopeful she can expand her efforts. Eventually, she’d like to move into a bigger space and support a wider variety of health, apothecary and wellness products, she says. She would also like more room to display larger cat furnishings and build out a freezer section for raw foods, treats and ice creams.
Getting back in touch with her TNR roots may not be out of the question either. “It may come in the form of classes on how to trap or build shelters, or maybe a section in the store dedicated to colony management and TNR, which might feature things like traps, seasonal disposable shelters for colonies, or other odds and ends that make colony management and TNR much easier.”
In the meantime, Angie has already started helping cats in the Houston area get what they need to thrive.
For more information, visit thekittyboedga.com