Fredonia Couple Owns Cat Spa

9 Lives Holistic owners Lynda Sandoval and Niner Baxter hold foster cats Potato O' Shea and Turkey Pot Pie. These cats are available for adoption as a pair. Submitted photo

FREDONIA — I can now say I have been greeted by a cat wearing a necktie. Actually, there were seven laid-back, happy male felines wearing ties on my recent visit to 9 Lives Holistic in Fredonia. Owners Lynda Sandoval and Niner Baxter have put a lot of time and thought into their business of pampering, grooming and caring for cats and it appears they haven’t missed a thing.

After passing through the front door, which remains locked at all times for the safety of the furry clients, one finds themselves in a bright and cheerful lobby. On this day there was a cat basking on the front window ledge and another leisurely strolling around while scrutinizing this visitor. One of the formally dressed, four-leggeds is an 18-year old that belonged to a former client who has passed away.

“We were going to foster him out but we fell in love with him,” says Lynda.

“And he loves coming to work,” adds her husband.

The bright room features a few repurposed items. Business transactions are done at a reception desk made from lathe taken from a house that was built in the 1800s. A large window found on the side of the road separates the foster room from the reception area. A glass block window lets in light that was once stifled when it was covered with drywall by previous tenants. Shelves holding retail products are located on the same wall.

A view of the specialty retail area from the balcony office. Featured items: organic CBD products, herbal tinctures, cat-safe essential oils, herbal flea and tick prevention products, earth-friendly cat litter, local artisan-made toys and gift items, and freeze-dried, raw and high-end canned cat food. Submitted photo

The couple specializes in products that cannot be found anywhere else in the area. Herbal remedy options, freeze-dried cat food, single protein treats made without dyes and a high-end canned cat food, as well as a line of essential oils blended by a veterinarian and Super Snouts organic CBD oil line the shelves. Squares made from wool felted by Lynda and filled with catnip Niner’s mom grows, dries and mails from Idaho, are also found in this area, as well as chaser toys made by Niner from the driftwood the couple collects on the beach.

Across the room is an art wall made up of row upon row of brightly-colored cat likenesses.

The foster room holds two guests at a time with the current residents being a 7-year old, three-legged, cancer survivor and his 8-year old pal. The duo cannot be separated. Unlike what one would expect, the fosters roam freely throughout the downstairs.

Behind the foster room is the grooming suite where a waist-high small tub, a grooming table and a Catty Shack Vac or high velocity dryer await customers in need of pampering.

“You can’t dry a cat with heat,” says Sandoval.

Cat wall in the lobby. Submitted photo

The fur is sucked from the chamber and collected in a bin on the outside.

“One of our most popular services is de-shedding. Everybody goes wild for it. This process cleans out the excess undercoat.”

The business owners team groom because it is less stressful for the cat. Grooming takes four hours, including an hour for the cat to settle in. They are careful not to push a cat past their limitations of tolerating the process. Breaks are given when needed and relaxation music is played.

“One of the things I think sets us apart is the fact that the cat is at the center of it. We want the owners to know we see their pets that way,” says Ms. Sandoval. “We let the cat smell the soaps and choose what is used.”

The Green Room was full of surprises. Consultations take place in this room as well as Reiki by Baxter and animal communication and behavioral therapy with Sandoval. This is where the cats’ photographs are taken after grooming to be sent to their owners and where they are kept before and after grooming.

Niner Baxter head-butt bonding with grooming client, Colorado Auria, who came in for a bath and lion cut. Submitted photo

“It (Reiki) kind of calms them down and resets the energy,” says Baxter.

“We had a cat that had had a stroke and the owners did not get good news from the vet. The cat got a little better after each of three treatments,” adds Baxter’s wife. “People bring cats for various reasons. One client brought a cat to see why it wasn’t happy in a new apartment. Others brought cats that did not get along.”

According to the couple, Reiki opens energy fields allowing the cat to be able to accept communication. It may reset a negative energy pattern, similar to meditation.

The second floor opens into the Cat Nappery Inn where six suites are located. Single, double and three cat suites are available but only one family is allowed per suite. Guests may come for a day visit for just $10. After the first hour, the suite door is opened so the visitors may move around at leisure. An hour is all it takes for them to know where to return when they want to rest in their bed or be by themselves. One boarder stays two nights every week while his owner is out of town. When he is set down, he marches across the lobby, down the hall, through the cat door and climbs the steps before going to his own suite.

Each suite has a bowl from the Hemingway House in Key West “because that’s what Ernest Hemingway fed his cats from.” Cats that are overnighted send selfies to their owner.

“The low ceilings are perfect for cats. The sunny skylight suites are the coveted spots,” says Ms. Sandoval. “We hope to install skylights in all of the suites one day.”

The balcony office is located in the front of the building, outside the Cat Nappery Inn. A comfortable mat is kept there in case the owners need to spend the night with a cat that may be under the weather. Guests needing insulin or nother medication are no problem as Baxter is a licensed Vet Tech with 13 years of experience working in animal hospitals.

The owners were careful to select cat-friendly materials when planning the remodel. Everything about the environment is safe for cats, including the paint and cat-safe seams which are sealed under partitions.

“We could not have done it without Ron Decker of Lakewood,” says Sandoval. “He was so good at whatever we threw at him. He’s an all-around super-knowledgeable guy.”

“We wanted to offer a different level of boarding,” she adds. “We really wanted it to be a home away from home. We want them to be calm and happy and not miss home. It is two cat people’s dream job.”

She thinks it is great that animal hospitals board, but points out that boarding nor grooming are a hospital’s main purpose. She also says that dog groomers don’t enjoy grooming cats.

“We get referrals from all of the area vets for grooming and boarding, which is great,” she says.

Bunnies guests are welcome, too.

The building served as a meat market, a home to the Chamber of Commerce, a Mexican restaurant, a hot dog stand and an herb store. When they were working on the building, they were concerned there would be too much space for what they intended to use it for, but now wish they had a third floor.

The couple found their way to Fredonia from Denver after Lynda posted “We want to move somewhere small” on Facebook. They wanted to live somewhere that was less expensive and without long commutes to their jobs. A friend who was living in Fredonia responded by saying they should move to her village and attached a picture of a house including its price. Soon after they visited the area for four days, made an offer on the house and both were offered jobs after distributing their resumes.

“That’s what got us out here and we don’t regret it,” Lynda says. “We arrived in New York on June 2, 2013 after driving cross-country with five cats, two rabbits and eight houseplants.”

Awhile later, Ms. Sandoval left the job she had accepted after buying a yoga studio in Dunkirk, which she still owns. When her husband decided he also wanted to leave his job, being cat-lovers, they analyzed what they liked best about cats. Their list included grooming, playing and caring for them. From there, the plan for Holistic 9 Lives grew.

The owners recommend making reservations for Thanksgiving and Christmas as soon as possible. Last year the couple had a cat Christmas tree and a Christmas Day dinner for their feline guests. Grooming appointments are currently being booked five to six weeks out. Matted and pelted cats can be put on a waiting list and will be put in if there is a cancellation. Customers are taught how to avoid matting.

“We never shame. We’re here to educate and help,” says Sandoval.

The business can be found at 69 W. Main St., Fredonia, 9LivesHolistic.com, on Facebook or by calling 401-3402.

They have included some of their favorite vegan and vegetarian recipes.

Sweet and Sour Portobello

Mushrooms with Cashews

1 lb Portobello mushrooms cut into 1.5-inch by one half-inch slices

3 T peanut oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)

1/2 c roasted, unsalted cashews, optional

2 red bell peppers

Salt and pepper to taste

3 T tamari sauce or soy sauce

2 T rice vinegar (use a certified GF vinegar for gluten-free)

2 T brown sugar

3 cloves garlic, minced

Sriracha to taste

2 tsp cornstarch

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch by 1/4-inch strips

1 T sesame seeds

2 c cooked long grain white or brown rice, optional

Place mushrooms in a medium bowl. Add a bit of oil, and toss gently with hands. Place cashews in a plastic or paper bag and then gently crush into large chunks with the bottom of a glass. Toast cashews in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Watch carefully. Remove to a plate, salt to your taste. Seed bell pepper, then cut it into long thin slices. Cut the slices in half. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together tamari, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic and Sriracha. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 1 T water. Pour cornstarch liquid into reserved sauce, whisking to combine well. Heat oil in a skillet or wok over medium high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add onions, stirring until just soft. Do not burn. Add mushrooms. Turn heat a tiny bit lower and sautÈ until they release their liquid and are al dente, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add pepper slices and continue to saute for 3-4 more minutes, until tender-crisp, not mushy. They should still have some bite. Reduce heat to medium/medium low. Give sauce a quick whisk and then pour over the top of the mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Stir to evenly coat vegetables with sauce. Continue to stir till the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Pour over rice, if serving as an entrÈe. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and serve. Chicken, beef or shrimp may be added.

Sauteed Rainbow Swiss Chard

with Pine Nuts and

Pomegranate Seeds

2 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar

2 tsp Bragg’s liquid aminos

1 tsp dark brown sugar

2 bundles of organic rainbow Swiss chard

2 T roasted peanut oil (or avocado, olive, etc.)

1/4 c pine nuts

Sea Salt

1 clove garlic or more, minced

1 T grated fresh ginger

1 T Earth Balance Organic vegan butter substitute

1/2 C fresh pomegranate seeds

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, aminos and brown sugar. Cut chard stems off leaves. Slice stems into 1/4-inch pieces and set aside. Tear leaves to 3-inch pieces.

3. In a large, nonstick pan over medium, heat peanut oil. Add pine nuts and stir until lightly browned. Transfer nuts to a plate, leave oil in pan. Add chard stems to large pan of oil. Sprinkle with pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until stems are tender and begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add garlic/ginger mix and stir fry until fragrant. Add leaves and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Using tongs, toss the chard leaves until wilted. Using a small spatula, scrape balsamic/sugar mixture into the pan. Stir and remove from heat. Add butter and toss until melted. Fold in toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.

Roll Your Own Granola

For all flavors:

1 lb. (4.5 c) quick oats*

3 c coarsely chopped raw nuts and/or seeds

1 c unsweetened coconut (I use the big pieces rather than the shreds

1/2 c or so vanilla protein powder (I use vegan rice protein powder)

Spice Profile No. 1

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 c packed dark brown sugar

1/2 c honey (1/2 cup date syrup if Vegan)

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter (or 1/2 cup Earth Balance Organic Spread, if Vegan)

1/3 c water

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond)

dried fruit, at your discretion

Spice Profile No. 2

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 c packed dark brown sugar

1/2 c pure maple syrup

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter (or 1/2 cup Earth Balance Organic Spread, if Vegan)

1/3 c water

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp maple extract

dried fruit, at your discretion

Spice Profile No. 3

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, coffee grinder or blender, grind half the oats to a fine powder. This is very important if you like big crunchy clusters. In a large bowl, combine the whole oats, ground oats, nuts, seeds and spices. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey or syrup, butter and water and heat until butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly. Stir the mixture together until smooth, then take off the head and stir in the salt and vanilla, almond or maple. Pour this mixture over the oats and nuts, stirring well with a wooden spoon to coat (I usually do this with my hands). It should be uniformly moist. Stir in another tablespoon or two of water if it isn’t. Let stand for about 10 minutes.

Spread the mixture on a large baking sheet, separating it into irregular clumps with your fingers, and allowing space between the clumps for the hot air to circulate. Bake on middle rack for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and turn, careful not to separate clumps. Return to the oven and bake another 15 minutes before stirring again. Repeat baking and stirring until the mixture is a uniform golden brown and completely dry, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Cool completely and then stir in any dried fruit. Store in a covered container at room temperature. Serve with your favorite plant-based or dairy milk or plain yogurt, kefir, or ricotta cheese and fresh fruit as desired.

Turmeric Coconut & Miso

“Comfort Food” Rice

1 c organic brown rice, (Jasmine or Basmati) washed and drained

1 c organic quinoa, any color, washed and drained

1 T organic coconut oil

1 organic shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves organic garlic, minced

3 tsp fresh, finely grated organic turmeric root (or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, in a pinch)

2 organic scallions, chopped

2 sprigs organic thyme

1 organic carrot, diced–tiny dice is appealing in the dish

1-15 oz can coconut milk

2 c organic vegetable broth or Imagine organic No-Chicken broth

1 heaping T organic white miso paste

1/4 tsp red chili flakes or 1/4 teaspoon Thai chili pepper, (optional)

sea salt, to taste, (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons)

1/4 c chopped organic parsley, and organic lime juice, for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook shallots and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in turmeric, scallions, thyme, carrot and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly. Add rice and stir until rice is uniformly yellow from the turmeric. Whisk miso paste into vegetable broth until fully dissolved and incorporated. Add coconut milk, vegetable broth/miso mixture, red chili flakes or Thai chili pepper and enough salt to enhance all the mingled flavors (taste test–don’t skimp). Bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer on low heat for 50 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and keep covered for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in parsley leaves and a squeeze of lime juice.

The Yummiest Mexican Hot

Chocolate Brownies Ever (Vegan)

1 c + 2 T oat, soy or coconut milk

1/2 c + 3 T vegetable oil

1 T pure vanilla extract

1 c flour

1 c unsweetened cacao or cocoa powder

1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 to 1/2 tsp either cayenne or red pepper flakes, to taste

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c brown sugar

1/3 c white sugar

2 T cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)

2/3 c mini chocolate chips, optional

1/2 c cacao nibs

Mix first 3 ingredients and then set aside. Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch pan (or 8-inch by 8-inch pan if you like thicker brownies), and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all dry ingredients except cacao nibs. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth. Bake 16 minutes, or 24 if using an 8-inch by 8-inch pan. Note, the brownies will seem a bit underdone when they come out. Trust that they’re done. Sprinkle cacao nibs evenly over the top and gently pat down. Refrigerate brownies overnight. This step is important as they will firm up for easier slicing by the next day, and they taste best the next day as well. These brownies freeze well. I like to cut them up into bite-size pieces after they’ve been refrigerated overnight and then wrap them in freezer paper and store them in freezer bags for those moments when you just need a brownie bite.

Chilaquiles Rojos (Vegetarian)

4 guajillo chiles, seeds removed (these are dried, red chiles you can find bagged in the produce section)

4 roma tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 white onion, rough chopped

2 T + 2 tsp olive oil

9 corn tortillas (alternatively, you can use pre-made corn tortilla chips. But don’t, unless you’re desperate, because the homemade ones are so much better)

1 T fresh-squeezed lime juice


1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated

diced scallion garnish

sour cream garnish

Instructions for corn chips

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Mix together 2 T olive oil and lime juice.

4. Brush onto one corn tortilla, both sides, then continue to brush onto each tortilla as you stack them.

5. Cut the stack into six equal triangles.

6. Spread the tortilla chips out in a single layer on both sheets. Lightly salt and then bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown.

7. Transfer into a large bowl to cool, set aside.

Instructions for the rest

1. Bring the chiles, tomatoes, and 6 cups of water to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 10 minutes.

2. Transfer the chilies, tomatoes and about 1/2 cup water to a blender. Add the garlic cloves and onion to the blender. Blend into a smooth sauce.

3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat until hot and sizzling. Add the sauce and let fry for a minute or two. Season with salt to taste, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes

4. Put all the tortilla chips into pot with the sauce, stir carefully to coat.

5. Stir in cheddar cheese. Let chips simmer for just a couple of minutes until cheese is melted, but watch so chips don’t get soggy.

6. Serve chilaquiles in wide, shallow bowls. Garnish with diced scallion and sour cream. These are really good for breakfast with a fried egg on top.


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