There is no time like right meow for Cindy Pennington and John Hale, who plan to open Tarrant County’s first cat cafe next month.
Casual Cat Cafe will open sometime in July in Richland Hills, Pennington said Tuesday, just east of the intersection of Glenview Drive and Grapevine Highway. There the couple will foster 12 cats at a time from Richland Hills Animal Services, Hurst Animal Services and Tall Tails Rescue and Transport.
A cat cafe is a kitty-first environment, whose ultimate goal is to find homes for cats from its partnering adoption services. So the food usually takes a back seat to the purrs and cuddles going on in the cat lounge.
The Casual Cat Cafe will offer refrigerated beverages and coffee, and is still looking for a local bakery to partner with to bring in all manner of cat-themed cookies, cupcakes and other sweets.
Food and drink can be brought into the cat lounge portion of the building, which will be filled with couches and cat trees, but cats won’t go into the area where food is prepared and sold. The revenue model for a cat cafe is centered around a cat lounge entry fee, which Pennington said is usually somewhere in the area of $10 for an hour of playtime with the kitties.
“We haven’t quite figured out what that fee will be at Casual Cat Cafe, but then food and retail support the business as well,” Pennington said. “We’re pretty confident we’ll be successful.”
The idea for Casual Cat Cafe came during Cindy Pennington’s time fostering cats for various adoption services. Monday through Friday, the cat could be a calm, purring delight. But Saturday mornings were earmarked for the dread-inducing adoption event.
“You show up to a place that’s new and loud and noisy, and people are sticking their fingers through cages at these cats. A lot of times it’s fine for the cats, and they get adopted,” Pennington said.
“But we’ve seen over and over again where the fosters would swear over and over how nice this cat is at home, but in an environment like an adoption event, all of a sudden they’re hissing, scratching, hiding in their litter box, and they can’t get adopted because people think that’s a mean cat.
“The cat cafe allows them to experience the most homelike setting as they wait for their forever home.”
The closest cat cafe is Lewisville’s Charming Cat Cafe. Dallas’ Cat Connection periodically did cat cafe pop-ups through 2015 and 2016.
Tuesday, the cat cafe was just $310 short of a $3,000 Kickstarter goal that Pennington said is earmarked for a security system for the cafe.
Any funds over the $3,000 goal will go to upgrading the cat lounge, Pennington said.
“The one thing we can’t keep up with is the number of calls and e-mails about cats needing foster homes,” Pennington said. “There’s just not enough room for all of them. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to open the cafe. We can put these cats in a safe space until adoption.”