Cats hold a particular mystique – they’re naturally inquisitive, clever, and tend to be full of personality. Not to mention if the cat really likes you, she’ll curl up on your lap and start to purr. Instant stress reliever. No wonder, then, cat cafes are popping up all over the country, an idea happily imported from Japan (although the first cat café opened in Taiwan, they were popularized in Japan).
The idea is simple – on one side of the café, cats roam free in a feline haven equipped with places for them to climb and lounge. Visitors can sign up for a one-hour slot to go and be with the cats. On the other side of the café, usually separated with glass so you can still see the cats, they’ll serve coffee and pastries. And if you happen to fall in love with one of these furry friends, you can adopt them and bring them home with you.
Here’s three cat cafes that are currently open for business in Ohio, along with one that will be opening soon in Cleveland’s popular Tremont neighborhood.
Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe, Columbus
Ohio’s first cat café opened right in the state’s capital city. The Columbus Humane group acquired Eat Purr Love cat café in July. Notes Kerry Shaw, the Director of Development and Communications for Columbus Humane, “We have been partnering with the café since it opened in 2016, providing our adoptable cats to the café, which has resulted in over 300 adoptions – 10% of our overall cat adoptions!”
When the owner was moving out of state, the Columbus Humane decided to keep the effort going. “The café has been a phenomenal way to integrate adoptable animals into a community setting,” says Shaw. Beyond the standard cat café offerings, patrons can participate in other activities like Yogatos (or yoga with cats), or Purrs & Palettes – you guessed it, painting with cats.
Advice for first timers to the cat café: “The cats at the cat café were chosen because they are primarily social cats but that doesn’t mean they want to be social all of the time. It is best to let them take the lead. We do encourage folks to read about our adoptable cats, where we provide some indication on how social the cats are and how likely they are to respond to attention. The experience is best if you come, relax and let the cats come to you!”
Kitty Brew Cat Cafe, Mason
Co-owner of Kitty Brew Café, Jenni Barrett, says she stumbled on the idea after seeing a cat cafe on an episode of the reality TV, entrepreneur-in-training show Shark Tank. It helped that Barrett also adored cats and wanted a way to help of them get adopted from shelters.
The café opened its doors in April of 2017 with a full espresso bar on one side, and an assortment of cat-faced sugar cookies, and just under 30 cats on the other side. Right now, Barrett notes that it’s kitten season so they have a few more cats than they normally do (in other words, you’ll get to play with kittens!). You can “visit” the café anytime by checking out their live kitty cam.
Advice for first timers to the cat café: “Keep an open mind. Prepare to be amazed and let the cats do the work for you. If you just sit down for a moment, they’ll come to you.”
Gem City Catfe, Dayton
With a bright, airy space that just begs for you to sit down with a good book or scroll through your latest social feeds, Gem City Catfe brings together a modern design, killer cappuccinos and of course, felines.
Owner Karin Gudal-Johnson paired her background in marketing and animal rescues when creating the catfe. She’s quick to point out that not everyone who comes to cat cafes are “cat people” per se. Some come for a great cup of coffee. And that’s just fine with Gudal-Johnson who relishes having the chance to introduce both cat-lovers and coffee-lovers to the experience of combining the two.
Advice for first timers to the cat café: “Some people have never been around cats – as a cat person, you know how to treat cats. But for those who haven’t we give them a few pointers before they go in. For example, you don’t pick them up when they’re asleep. And don’t go in for the belly. Cats do not like being pet on their tummies.”
affoGATO Cat Cafe, Cleveland
Cleveland will soon have its own cat café thanks to the efforts of owner Mandy Miller who became hooked on the concept when living in Washington D.C.
“Shortly before I moved there my cat passed away and I couldn’t have one in my studio apartment there so I used to go to a cat café,” explains Miller. “When I moved back to Cleveland I felt that loss so I ran the numbers and decided it was time to start a cat café here.”
Advice for first timers to the cat café: “My biggest tip is to go for the first appointment of the day or the last. The cats are most awake at those time. If you want more of a relaxing experience when the cats are sleepier then go in the middle of the day.”
For more travel inspiration, Find It Here at Ohio.org.