Kittens and champagne make the purr-fect pairing at Cat Palace in Pacific Beach
The unique animal rescue boutique with a royal theme opened in April
An animal shelter — but make it sparkle.
Located on Mission Boulevard, Cat Palace by Champagne Queen rolls out the red carpet for its adoptees. Roses, string lights and colorful paintings adorn the pink walls; disco balls hang from the ceiling; a violinist performs classical music at the entrance. And yes, palace visitors enter on a literal red carpet, rolled out on the Pacific Beach sidewalk.
Though this boutique doesn’t look like your typical shelter, its mission is the same: find rescue animals their fur-ever home. With a $20 donation, guests are invited into the regal hangout to spend an hour playing and cuddling with adoptable cats, who are referred to as “princes and princesses.”
General manager and cat lover Tara Boornazian said she was inspired to start the animal rescue after visiting The Cat Lounge in La Jolla and The Cat Cafe in downtown. She wanted to bring the concept to Pacific Beach, swapping the coffee for something more bubbly.
In addition to 60 minutes of kitten cuteness, all guests receive a complimentary glass of champagne. The decision to serve alcohol to guests is partially influenced by Boornazian’s nickname “Champagne Queen,” a lighthearted title friends call her because of a unique ritual: popping a bottle of champagne every day.
“I actually hardly ever drink it ... I spray it!” Boornazian said. “I document the (champagne) pops and post them on my Instagram in hopes that others will take the time to celebrate life daily.”
Boornazian, who moved to Pacific Beach from Florida during the pandemic, wanted to share that positive energy with her new San Diego neighborhood.
“We have so much to be grateful for and it’s a good practice to be intentional about celebrating life,” she said. “Interacting with kitties is a wonderful experience for humans and kitties alike. I figured it would be a great way to bring love to the PB community.”
After months of planning during the pandemic, Cat Palace finally opened its doors in April. Since then, the nonprofit’s “princes and princesses” — who are rescued from Southern California and Tijuana — have begun to find their permanent homes.
One of those cats is Kittanha, recently adopted by Pacific Beach resident Nicolas Perez.
“It wasn’t really a place that I would normally go to — a little pink and froufrou for me, but I’m always one for trying to help out the local businesses,” Perez said.
Perez, who lives and works in the neighborhood, said he knew some of the folks connected with Cat Palace. So one fateful day a few weeks ago, he stopped by to bring his friend food during her volunteer shift.
“Originally that was the only thing I was going there to do,” he said. “But I went in there, saw cats, and was like, ‘Well, I’m (already) here ...’ so I paid $20 to go in there and spend an hour playing with the kitties. I was still in my work clothes, so I was wearing Carhartt pants and a flannel shirt and steel-toed boots.”
While Perez didn’t visit Cat Palace with the intention to adopt, he had previously been searching for a buddy to accompany his older cat, Senator Meowco Rubio, and was in the market for a kitten.
“But I walked in there and this gray, almost full-grown cat just kind of decided that I was hers,” he said, adding that Kittanha is an “absolute sweetheart” already acclimating well to her new home and getting along well with Senator Meowco Rubio. (The fast friends even have matching pink sequin bowties.)
But not all of the adoptions are local. Vancouver, Washington residents Jodi and Todd Dillmon were visiting San Diego with their two daughters, ages 9 and 14, over Mother’s Day weekend. One evening, on the way back to their resort, they passed the Cat Palace — and the girls begged their parents to go back.
The next day, they returned to play and take pictures with the kitties. After leaving, they looked through all the photos and realized that each of them had the most photos with one cat specifically: an all gray, green-eyed kitten named Prince Rambo.
The family went about their vacation a few more days, but couldn’t get Prince Rambo off their minds. So before they left San Diego, they decided to drop by Cat Palace again to see if anyone had adopted him — and ended up flying him back home.
“I really think this cat is so amazing because of the fact that he was so well-loved at the Cat Palace, because there are so many different people coming to pet him,” Jodi Dillmon said. “He’s so familiar with just being around a lot of people and other animals, that he’s just got this super sweet personality — very loving and he doesn’t get scared of people.”
“He’s like the best cat ever — seriously,” she continued.
Those interested in adoption can visit the adoptable cats in person or view an updated list online at catpalacesd.org/cat-alogue. An online application is required for all adoptions, as well as an interview and home visit, which can be done virtually. Kitten prices range from $300-$500, adult cats (1-6 years) are $200 and senior cats (age 7 and older) are $100.
Boornazian said that the Cat Palace is costly to maintain, and relies on the community to keep the kittens cared for and the champagne flowing. The boutique is run primarily by volunteers, with visitor donations funding veterinary care, food, supplies and rent, along with bonuses for managerial volunteers and vet technicians.
“99.9% of the community has been overjoyed and love what we’re doing,” Boornazian said. “Unfortunately, there will always be haters who don’t offer help, just judgment and negativity. All we can do is continue our mission of saving cat lives from dire circumstances and finding them loving homes while giving joy to the community.”
Cat Palace by Champagne Queen, at 4125 Mission Blvd., is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Learn more at catpalacesd.org.