In 12 years, MadCat has expanded to three locations, helped rescue hundreds of cats, and expanded to selling dog supplies too.
The boutique-style pet stores sell cat, dog and small pet supplies from three locations in Madison. MadCat employees also work as advocates for cat-related causes in Dane County. The store partners with Dane County Friends of Ferals, hosts adoptable cats, and provides training and nutrition advice to new cat owners.
General Manager Rachel Anderson said until recently, cats were often vilified in pop culture and cat owners were sometimes a source of ridicule.
“Kill numbers in shelters were very high and cats were overlooked in pet stores,” she said. “We’re part of making cats cool again.”
The Williamson Street store and Mineral Point Road stores opened in 2002 when owner Ted O’Donnell bought two former Pets Plus locations. In 2006, he opened the Monroe Street store. Many employees are full-time and have worked at the store for several years. All are pet lovers who test out new pet toys and supplies on their own pets.
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Anderson started working at MadCat in 2006 after graduating from UW-Madison. In hindsight, she says it was a natural progression because she grew up loving animals and frequented pet stores to visit with the pets, she said.
“That’s why I don’t mind the kids that come in the store now — even when they stay a long time,” she said. “I know that used to be me. We’re really doing what we love and we love what we do.”
A majority of products MadCat carries are made in the United States. The store also sells about 50 varieties of cat trees, many built by a Madison couple. The cat trees are built from dead tree limbs, the limbs sanded and stained to provide a natural-looking tree base.
“We’re all for giving cats their own space,” Anderson said. “Especially if you purchase new furniture, it helps to throw in an extra hundred bucks to buy a cat tree and you get an insurance policy on your new couch.”