'Where cat dreams come true:' Menomonee Falls couple turn home into 'Mewseum' with 10k+ feline figurines
MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. -- They say dogs are a man's best friend, but for one Menomonee Falls couple, cats are the favorite furballs.
You don't have to take more than a couple of steps inside Shawn Redner and Hillary Siegel-Redner's home before you're surrounded by thousands of them.
But don't worry -- only about ten of them are real.
"None of this happened on purpose. This all started out of boredom," Redner laughingly told CBS 58's Ellie Nakamoto-White. "It was just something to do for fun. Now it's all my wife and I do."
The couple began gathering cat figurines since 2018, drawing inspiration from an ex-girlfriend who collected mushrooms.
Two years later, when their collection was growing almost too big to handle, Redner came up with the idea for a "mewseum."
"This was the very first thing that I found at St. Vinny's in West Allis," Redner said, pointing to a framed photo of a cat. "That's Taffy. That picture was taken in October of 1967."
Now cat-related items cover each room of the house from floor to ceiling.
"I never thought we'd find this much stuff," Redner said. "It was just a big accident and now it's our entire house plus the basement plus a storage unit."
Plates. Toys. Trinkets. Statues. Cats dressed as movie characters. Jim Beam whiskey decanters from 1967. Music boxes. Ornaments.
Entire walls are decorated with framed photos of felines.
"I figured they were loved enough once to be taken a picture of. I can take them back home and love them again," Redner said.
The couple opened up the museum in 2021, recently remodeling over the summer to make room for their seemingly endless collection.
The vast majority of their items are either bought second-hand or donated -- something that Redner values near and dear to his heart.
"I made a solemn swear that I'll take care of them for as long as I can," Redner said. "People believe in this place enough to pass on their loved ones' stuff to us."
For the duo, it's more than just items. It's a collection of people and their stories, all under one roof.
"Who drives 800 miles to go pick up a couple of cat figurines? But we did it," Redner said. "There’s so much negativity out there and if I can make someone happy you know, just bring a little joy to somebody, then that’s what we’re gonna keep trying to do."
His favorite part is sharing their collection with visitors who come from all over the world, united with their love for furry friends.
"There's been people from Buffalo, New York. This guy says he's from Poland," Redner said. "The woman from Peru, she was awesome. Her daughter lives around the corner so I would talk to her daughter and then her daughter would translate it to her mom and her mom would clap and laugh and it was so fun.”
For Redner, cats are a universal language.
"They're fierce, fantastic balls of love with attitude problems," Redner said. "When people come here and visit, they let me know that we’re on to something. That we’re onto the right track. That what we’re doing is not completely a waste of time.”
In fact, the museum serves to give back to those it features, with 100% of donations raised given to local cat rescues.
So far, about $3,000 dollars have been donated.
In the future, the couple plans to keep expanding to make room for their vast collection, and possibly even add a cat cafe to continue giving back and helping rescue animals.
"The happiness this place brings people is why I keep doing it," Redner said. "If you didn’t think cat dreams could possibly come true, well this house is full of 'em."