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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 2 years ago

Orlando Cat Cafe announces Axum Coffee as a partner

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The concept of a cat cafe started in Asia and came to the United States in 2014. Currently, there are about 10 in the country.
by: Jennifer Nesslar Reporter

Imagine this: You’re drinking a hot cup of Axum coffee while snuggling with a warm cat. 

If it sounds too good to be true, think again. 

In late spring, the Orlando Cat Cafe will open in the Four Corners area, and Axum Coffee will operate the coffee portion of the cafe, partnering with developer Sandra Cagan and South Lake Animal League. 

“It’s a risk for us in that you don’t know if it’s going to take off,” said Suzanne Bernal, general manager at Axum Coffee. “But there’s at least a strong enough possibility that we’re like, ‘Why not? Let’s just try.’”

In December 2014, the NBC Nightly News aired a story about cat cafes in the United States. It caught the attention of Sandra Cagan, senior vice president of the Florida Division at Cagan Management Group, a multi-family home developer. The story stayed with her for several days. 

“It kind of occurred to me that, ‘Wow, this is something that I could do,’” Cagan said. “People always talk about finding your passion or following your bliss, and you know you really can’t make a living off of liking cats, but I thought … this is something I could really do, kind of marry the concept of a cat cafe … with property management.” 

She asked around to find partners who would be interested in working with her on the project and found South Lake Animal League and Axum Coffee.

Cat cafes, a trendy concept around the world, might make you a little wary. For those of you afraid to mix cats with coffee, we have answers. 

WAIT, WHAT IS A CAT CAFE?

The concept of a cat cafe started in Asia in response to people’s interest in cats but inability to be near cats, because of landlords barring pets from apartments or roommates with allergies. The cat cafe provided a place for people to enjoy time with cats without having to own one. 

In 2014, cat cafes came to the U.S., many of which have a two-fold goal: Allowing people to enjoy cats and offering the cats up for adoption. 

In the U.S., the rooms where food and drinks are prepared are separate from the room where the cats stay and interact with guests. 

THE FELINES

The cat portion of the store will be run by South Lake Animal League. 

It costs $300 to $500 to take in a cat, though some pets take much more if they need medical care. 

The cafe will have about 15 cats at a time. If visitors want to adopt a kitten, it will cost about $100. Adults cost about $50. These cats will be spayed and neutered, as well as microchipped.

“I think statistically wise, we’ll see a huge spike in our increase in cat adoption,” said Jessica Whitehouse, director of development at South Lake Animal League.

Cats staying at the cafe will be able to enter a private back room through the use of a cat door, where they will be able to get some privacy, eat, and use a litter box. 

HOW WILL THE ORLANDO CAT CAFE WORK?

At the Orlando Cat Cafe, guests will be able to enter the coffee-shop area to order drinks. There will be a window for viewing the room where cats interact with guests. If guests want to enter the 872-square-foot cat portion of the cafe, they will pay $5 to $10 per hour, Cagan estimates. The fee is intended to keep guests from staying with cats too long, barring other guests from entering. 

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN OTHER PLACES

There are about 10 cat cafes in the U.S., according to Sergio Castillo, co-owner of Purringtons Cat Lounge in Portland, Oregon. 

In its first year of operation, Purringtons Cat Lounge provided the space for 144 cats to be adopted.

Two doors separate the cafe and the cat lounge, keeping cats from escaping or running into the cafe. 

The lounge features cat cubicles where cats can sleep and relax, as well as a cat fixture above the guests that allows cats to walk and see the room from above. Most people sit at tables or on the floor and wait for cats to come to them. 

Having the cats out and socializing allows people to see the cats more like they will act at home, Castillo said. The lounge has also provided a means for people to become more educated about cats.

“(We try) to get them to understand, cats aren’t exhausted, they just sleep a lot,” Castillo said. 

IF YOU GO

The Orlando Cat Cafe

ADDRESS: 532 Cagan Park Ave. Suite 201-202, Clermont

OPENING DATE: Late spring, around May or June

 

 

Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected]

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