Cafe brings people, adoptable cats together in interactive environment

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Cat lovers, here's some news that's sure to get you purring! 

The Catnip Cat Cafe, a first-of-its-kind business in Hampton Roads, holds its official grand opening Friday, July 14.

Located at 2200 Colonial Ave. in Norfolk, the cafe allows people to interact with cats that are available for adoption from animal shelters.

"A cat cafe in most situations is a place where people go and spend time, grab a cup of coffee...it's a more enjoyable environment to spend time with cats, as opposed to going to a shelter. They're limited in what they can do there," explained owner Freeda Steele.

"Four years ago I was watching something on T.V. about cat cafes in Japan and I thought, that sounds like a really good idea," said Steele. "It just seemed obvious, like cats in bookstores." 

It took about eight months for Steele's idea to become reality. 

"I just started writing ideas down about it. I don't think I ever really thought it would come to fruition." 

It wasn't until a trip to Washington, D.C. that she and her husband became really serious about starting their business.

"Once the [cat cafe] in D.C. opened a couple years ago, my husband and I went and visited that one," explained Steele. "At that point, he hadn't really understood what it was before, once we went and saw that one he was like, 'Okay, now I get it,' and he said, 'Yeah, we should do that.'" 

The cafe had a soft opening in June. Cats come from shelters that include the Norfolk SPCA. They're current on their shots and have been spayed or neutered. Since the soft opening, 14 cats have been adopted.

Even though the word "cafe" is in the business' name, it cannot sell food. The cafe offers self-serve coffee, and Steele hopes one day to be able to serve wine and food from local vendors.

Steele said the cafe has been adding activities to its calendar, including a paint night and yoga. Steele hopes to add others, such as a craft night. A full list of activities can be found on the Catnip Cat Cafe's Facebook page.

The grand opening Friday begins with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 3:15 p.m. Visitors can win prizes and play with cats afterwards.

The Catnip Cat Cafe is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. It is closed on Wednesday. 

There are a limited number of spots available in the cafe per hour, so Steele encourages people to make reservations. The cost to visit the cafe is $10 an hour per person. To make reservations, or to learn more about the cafe, people can visit its website.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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