Get your feline fix at one of Central Florida's soon-to-open cat cafes.
2016 is shaping up to be the year of the cat…café. The phenomenon of cozy bistros serving coffee and tea alongside friendly, adoptable felines has finally found its way to Orlando in the form of two soon-to-open establishments: The Kitty Beautiful and Orlando Cat Café.
“Cats have always been a passion of mine,” says Sandra Cagan, founder of Orlando Cat Café, at 532 Cagan Park Ave. in Clermont. After spending nearly 20 years in the property management business, Cagan was inspired by an NBC News story on cat cafés.
Though Orlando Cat Café is not officially open yet, Cagan held a sneak peek event last October and attracted upward of 500 curious people. She plans to open in late spring or early summer this year.
“It is really no different from having a restaurant next to a pet shop or shelter,” Cagan says.
As opposed to Asian and European cat cafés, where cats roam freely throughout the establishments, U.S. facilities require the total separation of animals from any food preparation and handling areas.
“That's also good because it means people with cat allergies won't have to worry about the cats if they just want to come in for a coffee and a muffin,” says Heather Strauss, owner of The Kitty Beautiful, soon to open at 223 N. Magnolia Ave. in downtown Orlando.
Strauss says her café will be as much an attraction as it is a place to bring your laptop and enjoy a morning pick-me-up or a place to unwind during a busy day. Although she launched a 30-day fundraising campaign on crowd-funding website Kickstarter, she wasn’t able to raise the $17,500 needed to cover startup costs.
“Right now we’re waiting on bids from multiple contractors for the build out on the space,” Strauss says. “As soon as we get some final numbers, we’ll decide what our plan is.” While she is considering another fundraising campaign, “we’ll be moving forward regardless and hope to open sometime this spring,” she says.
Both cafés plan to serve traditional coffeehouse fare like coffee, tea, juices and prepackaged snacks in their café rooms. Patrons will pay a cover fee or sign up for monthly membership to access the playroom—home to more than a dozen adoptable cats.
Orlando Cat Cafe’s felines will come from South Lake Animal League, a no-kill shelter since 1988. The Kitty Beautiful’s partner is Candy's Cats, whose cats are already spayed/neutered, tested for common diseases, vaccinated, treated for parasites, micro-chipped and ready for forever homes.
Strauss is already making plans for special events at The Kitty Beautiful. “Expect yoga classes where people can do yoga with cats and "mewvie nights" where you can watch a movie surrounded by them.”