Voices from Home: Cat meditation center in Brea is first of its kind

In Features, Lifestyle
A cat laying down in the ZenCat studio.
Ryan Matthey / Daily Titan

People have heard of meditation, they’ve heard of cats, but have they heard of cat meditation? The ZenCat Lounge in Brea is the only studio to incorporate meditation and cats in one facility and thanks to their work, both cats and meditation coexist in harmony.

The owners, mother-daughter team Donna and Melissa Brown, opened the studio in March of 2018. Their idea was to open a place that would help humans as well as homeless cats.

With Donna’s 30 years of meditation experience and Melissa’s bachelor’s degree in psychology, the duo combined their knowledge to form the idea of meditating with cats.

“My mom and I were both at a point where we wanted our work to be doing something meaningful and giving back to the world instead of just making money for other people. So, we decided to combine our passions and our experiences,” Melissa said.

Their mission is to increase the number of permanent adoption placements for stray and surrendered cats and they believe forming a connection with a cat prior to taking it home is what ensures lasting relationships.

This connection is made through the different activities ZenCat Lounge offers, such as group meditation and yoga classes that are offered every week. Here, participants engage in meditation and yoga techniques with the feline residents’ company.

For a more solo endeavor, private rooms are available where participants follow guided meditations through Muse headbands and tablets. The headband, a biofeedback device, measures brain activity and tells users how calm their minds are while the tablet teaches basics of good posture and meditation with cats.

However, the real stars of the lounge are the cats.

Customers who choose not to meditate are free to hang out with the resident cats. Coloring pages and create-your-own cat toys are available to enhance the experience.

The cats come from different rescue organizations local to Orange County and Los Angeles, including Cats In Tow, Healthy Paws, The PAW Mission and MeoowzResQ.

The lounge has only two criteria for the cats they take in: they must be good with people and other cats. This leads to what Donna considers to be a collection of the best cats in Brea.

In 2017, Orange County animal shelters had to euthanize 3,594 cats. The Browns are trying to help the overpopulation problem, but they don’t feel like they can do enough.

“We can take on maybe 16 to 20 cats here, but really, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of how many cats actually need a home,” Donna said.

Regardless of whether potential cat owners stop by the Brea location or not, the Browns hope to bring awareness to the importance of adopting versus purchasing cats.

“When you are just purchasing from a breeder, those people are just breeding for a hobby. They’re creating more cats when there are already more cats than there are homes,” Melissa said.

ZenCat Lounge is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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About 40,000 students are enrolled at Cal State Fullerton. They come from communities in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Some commute long distances to get to campus. The series Voices from Home tells stories about the people and places that make their communities unique. These are some of their voices.

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