The News-Gazette was recently invited to Orlando Cat Café. And honestly, what’s better than an afternoon spent petting cats and playing with kittens while drinking coffee? (The answer is, “Nothing. Nothing is better than that.”)
The invite was to celebrate Orlando Cat Café’s new partnership with SPCA Florida. The two are working together to help save the lives of Central Florida felines.
Guests are welcome to grab a cup of Axum coffee and hang out with adoptable cats on a daily basis. The café serves a modern-day adoption location, giving potential fur-ever parents the chance to get to know their fur babies before bringing them home.
Orlando Cat Café is home to 12 to 20 adoptable cats at a time, where they can roam freely in the designated “Cat Play Area”— separate and safe from the coffee shop. Guests are welcome to join the cats in the “Cat Play Area” or stay on the “Café” side and see the cats through the window. Any Axum food or drink purchased on the “Café” side may be brought into the “Cat Play Area,” as long as guests refrain from feeding the felines.
Orlando Cat Café opened in 2016, on Cagan Park Avenue in Clermont. While other cat cafés exist worldwide, Orlando Cat Café was the first to open in the state of Florida.
“It was a long process, about 22 months to get everything together,” said Orlando Cat Café Director of Community Purr-lations Jessica Whitehouse, regarding the business details and health codes of pairing animals and food together. She also said the café took the place of a former Anytime Fitness location, so a lot of renovations had to be completed before move-in.
“But since we opened in 2016, we’ve celebrated 208 adoptions to date,” Whitehouse said.
Orlando Cat Café has even celebrated adoptions with out-of-state parents.
“Our area is very touristy, so we have a lot of tourist traffic come through to visit the cats,” Whitehouse continued. “We’ve had about eight or 10 out-of-state adoptions, where [the families] have actually brought the cats back home with them.”
Sandy Cagan, co-owner of Cagan Management Group and founder of the Orlando Cat Café, said she got the idea from a news story back in 2015. She has been a cat lover her entire life, and wanted to give back to her community in a special way.
“Our announcement with SPCA is a huge deal,” said Cagan. “We opened with Animal League, a great local shelter. But we needed a bigger organization to sustain us and provide us with more [adoptable] cats. We are excited to welcome SPCA.”
SPCA Florida is a highly regarded 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, headquartered in Lakeland, Fla. It has been dedicated to improving the lives of pets and people in the community since its founding in 1979. SPCA Florida works to provide care, compassion and hope to more than 6,000 homeless animals entering their doors every year.
Guests can visit SPCA’s adoptable cats at Orlando Cat Café for one hour at a time. During non peak times, guests may enter the “Cat Play Area” right away. During peak times, a reservation may be necessary. For the safety of the cats, the amount of people in the “Cat Play Area” may be limited.
Orlando Cat Café also hosts a number of different monthly events. For example, Yoga with Cats. Yoga classes in the “Cat Play Area” are offered on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. The class taught by professional instructors is “purr-fect” for beginners or any level.
A favorite among visitors, Palettes & Pets. This monthly paint night is hosted on the second Thursday of every month, from 5 to 7 p.m. Artist Kathie Camara will guide you through the featured painting, step-by-step. All painting supplies is included, and you will take home your own 11×14-inch canvas painting.
A former art teacher at a nearby studio, Camara started volunteering at the café when it opened.
“I love it here,” she said. “Sometimes I paint the kitties, and sometimes I get to cuddle with them.” Definitely a win-win.
Admission to the café and special events can be found online. For more information on Orlando Cat Café, visit www.OrlandoCatCafe.com.