BARRE, Vt. — The owner of Vermont’s only cat cafe saved all 57 of her resident cats from a historic flood in July -- by physically destroying her business.
Alexis Dexter, the owner of Kitty Korner Café in Barre, knew that water seeping into her business was inevitable when floods rolled through the city, WPTZ-TV reported.
She wrestled with what to do with the 57 cats located on the first floor.
“It was ‘get the cats, put them in a carrier, and put them up high,’ as many as you could and as quickly as you could,” Dexter told the television station.
Dexter and her boyfriend, Logan Wells, moved the frightened felines into carriers and put them onto shelves, but water continued to rise, Seven Days Vermont reported.
“By the time that was done, there was easily 4-6 inches of water on the ground, and it was coming through the cracks of the door,” Dexter told WPTZ. “A caveman mentality struck me, and I said, ‘I need to get this water somewhere else.’”
Dexter and her staff took hammers and screwdrivers and created holes in the floor, sending 7 feet of water into the basement of the shop, according to the television station.
“I just knew I had 57 different lives depending on me,” Dexter told WPTZ.
Once the floodwaters receded, the cats were relocated to foster homes within four hours, according to the television station.
But Dexter had other problems to deal with.
“We chipped up a piece of the floor that had black mold growing underneath it,” she told WCAX-TV in July.
A diesel fuel tank also spilled in the basement, and Dexter was looking at major renovations.
She remained optimistic.
“It’s not going to be pretty, but we’re cats, we land on our feet, right?” Dexter told the television station.
Dexter started a GoFundMe campaign for the cat shelter and raised more than $23,000. She has been working with volunteers to rebuild the space and estimates that she has spent about $55,000 so far, Seven Days Vermont reported.
And she still has a business to run. Cats require attention.
“Unlike a normal business where when you’re closed, you’re not paying staff or paying for supplies, we still have cats to feed, clean, and take to the vet,” Dexter told WPTZ.
When she reopens the shop, Dexter said she will convert the manmade holes created during the flood into drain holes.
“If someone says there is a flash flood warning, I’m going to pop open the little holes in the floor and I’m going to sit and wait,” Dexter told WPTZ.