© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A new café in Rotterdam is purrfect for cat lovers

A new café in Rotterdam is learning that community partnership is catnip to its customers.

Cats are purring while not far away coffee is brewing at the Pretty Paw Lounge.

The Lounge helps cats and kittens find homes and offers shelf space for local business to sell their cat-themed products.

The café is split in two. One side hosts a storefront and bake stand filled with sweet treats and merchandise from local crafters and the other is a playroom filled with cats looking for a forever home.

While traveling, owner Rachel Anne saw successful cat cafés across the country and wanted to take a stab at it. She says being able to combine her love for cats and her entrepreneurial background is a dream come true.

“I thought it was something that was really doable and something I wanted to do,” Anne said. “I’ve owned business before but I’m really into cats so, this, I decided, kind of like a natural fit.”

The lounge partners with Kitten Angels, a volunteer-run, non-profit focused on rescuing cats and kittens through foster care. The café offers 30-minute or one-hour paid time slots to visit and play with the cats.

Volunteer Sheridan Wells says the café brings an element to the adoption process that clinics and shelters lack.

“With the cat café, you go in, you're paying for a full half an hour experience, you go and you sit down, you play with the cats, and you're getting to play with a bunch of different personalities. And in the process, you get to see them in a more natural element. So, you know, kennel environment is way different from like, cats sleeping in a very large room having multiple categories to play with a ton of toys, you know what I mean? So, they're a little bit more free-spirited than they are, you know, here, here's this cat that we've had in the kennel for a week, waiting to be seen by somebody that walked by.”

Since opening in August, Anne says one of the toughest challenges she has faced is the feedback.

“Some, like opinions, like all you know, ‘that won’t last’ or you know, ‘Why not dogs?’, ‘Why not goats?’, ‘Why not children?’” Anne said. “Just some people are not open to the concept of cats and helping animals.”

But not all feedback has been negative. Anne says the community has been supportive.

“We’ve had a lot of community events,” Anne said. “Which the community really supports, and they love that like outreach. And we’ve had like the Rotterdam Library came and did a reading hour. So, just like a lot of events that really reach out and aren’t just cat visits.”

The café sells a variety of drinks and sweet treats from local bakers. But is it hygienic?

A separate café and cat room keeps cat litter off your cake. Additionally, visitors are required to wash their hands and wear protective shoe covers when entering the cat room in order to avoid cross contamination.

In a statement, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets tells WAMC it is working with the café to acquire a Retail Food Store License, which is applicable to any retail food store in the state where “pre-packaged food and food products are offered to the consumer but conducts no food processing.”

As another way to get the community involved and engaged with the cats, the café hosts paint and sips, sewing classes and even yoga with cats.

Customer Julie McNulty says previous cat yoga sessions were beneficial. She likes unwinding with the help of the felines, which she calls the best animal on the planet.

“Last time I did it it was really cute,” McNulty said. “All the cats were kind of shy and kind of stayed away from us but slowly got more curious and curious and you could like see the cat personalities come out and they would kind of run by or like sniff someone and kind of go in and out of the people.”

The café is open Wednesday through Sunday by appointment or walk-in.

Samantha joined the WAMC staff after interning during her final semester at the University at Albany. A Troy native, she looks forward to covering what matters most to those in her community. Aside from working, Samantha enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat. She can be reached by phone at (518)-465-5233 Ext. 211 or by email at ssimmons@wamc.org.