By Arden Moore
Mega coffee chains like Starbucks can offer you many varieties of coffee, but they can’t serve you a latte with a purr. That combination is available only at cat cafés, places to savor coffee and other beverages while interacting with cats up for adoption.
A few years ago, I visited Koneko in downtown Manhattan, where the felines roaming inside come from the Anjellicle Cats Rescue group. Koneko means “kitten” in Japanese.
It was a unique experience that motivated me to seek out other cat cafés to visit. My total is now five, including ones in San Diego, Chicago and a couple in Texas.
But now, you won’t have to leave Palm Beach County to partake in this experience, because plans are underway to open a cat café at the Peggy Adams Rescue League center in West Palm Beach.
“We hope to open our cat café in about a month,” says Rich Anderson, executive director/CEO at Peggy Adams. “We thought our community would love being able to spend time and get to know adoptable cats in a super-comfortable setting, and to do so while enjoying coffee or tea. Each day, a few cats will be introduced to the café and our human guests will also be able to watch cats playing in the adjacent catio.”
This cat café is inside the newly opened Lesly S. Smith Pet Adoption Center, which includes a cat adoption wing, three dog wings plus a new humane education center, a grooming room, veterinarian’s office and much more. In total, the facility is 28,000 square feet and is designed to showcase pets in need of adoption and offer classes and other programs to the pet-loving public.
“Lesly Smith has served as chairman of the board of Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League since 2009, and no person has meant more to the organization or the animals of the community than she,” says Anderson. “It was never Lesly’s intent to see the new pet adoption center named for her. Prior to the launch of the capital campaign, Lesly’s daughter, Danielle Moore, approached us with her wish to make the lead gift in her mother’s honor.”
This new wing with a cat café represents an evolution in how successful animal shelter centers operate. The days of shelters referred to as pounds and found in seedy locations in cities are thankfully disappearing. Surfacing are shelters like Peggy Adams that seek to become community centers that go beyond housing cats and dogs and other companion animals to be adopted.
“So much has changed for the better in the last 20 years nationwide for shelter animals,” says Anderson. “Adoption and foster programs have become so successful that more attention and resources have been able to shift toward programs meant to prevent animals from entering shelters in the first place. Our Safety Net programs — affordable and free veterinary care, our free pet food pantry, behavior training and support — continue to expand.”
Cat cafés exist all over the globe. Honors for being the world’s first belong to Cat Flower Garden, which opened in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1998. The United States has an estimated 140 cat cafés.
And, yes, they strive to have playful feline names, such as The Tipsy Tabby in Newmarket, New Hampshire, Eat, Purr, Love Cat Café in Columbus, Ohio, and Purrington’s Cat Lounge in Portland, Oregon.
Some cafés serve coffee and/or alcoholic beverages. Some offer food, but all offer an opportunity to hang out with cats in a relaxing, living-room like setting.
Quality cat cafés ensure all cats are up-to-date on vaccinations. Think of them as cageless shelters for cats and kittens. They feature cat trees for felines to survey activity from preferred high places as well as cubby holes to nap uninterrupted, comfy beds, toys and much more. Litter boxes are often out of sight, but accessible to the cats.
This enriching environment enables cats to feel safe, relax and display behaviors that may win them forever homes.
Each café has its own rules for visitors, but topping the list is practicing good hygiene by thoroughly washing your hands before and after handling cats, and never picking up a cat, but rather, allowing the cat to come to you.
Until the new cat café opens at Peggy Adams, I will enjoy sipping my coffee inside a ceramic mug sporting the photo of my favorite feline, Pet Safety Cat Casey, who assists me in my pet first-aid and pet behavior classes. And, I will look for new episodes of Call Me Kat airing on Fox this fall, starring Mayim Bialik as an owner of a fictional cat café in Louisville, Kentucky.
Coffee and cats definitely blend well together.
For more information about the cat café, the new Lesly S. Smith Pet Adoption Center and other activities at the Peggy Adams Rescue League, visit www.peggyadams.org.
Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, author, speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. She hosts Oh Behave! weekly on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.