Happening ‘meow’: Phoenix cat cafe launches Kickstarter to find location

Amanda Etchison, The Republic | azcentral.com 11:23 a.m. MST June 15, 2016

A proposed Phoenix-area cat cafe has launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of finding the “purr-fect” location.

La Gattara Cat Cafe & Wine Bar, the feline-friendly business idea of Melissa Pruitt, 39, of Tempe, launched its Kickstarter campaign on Friday, June 10, with the goal of raising $18,000.

So far, the campaign has 51 backers who have donated more than $6,800. The campaign has 40 days to go as of Wednesday, June 15, and Pruitt says she hopes the support continues.

“The $18,000 is our goal, but we really want to do more than that, so we’re going to do stretch goals,” she says. “We really need to go over (the $18,000 goal) in order to make it awesome.”

“Stretch goals” are monetary targets that can be added onto the official goal initially set by Kickstarter project creators.

Hoping to open in September

13423959_1207832869249377_4679592698115240734_n From left to right, respectively. Co-owners Mike Simmons and Melissa Pruitt with Jodi Polanski of Lost Our Home Pet Rescue and Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther.com.

Pruitt says most of the Kickstarter money will be used for the bigger expenses like securing a lease – she and co-owner Mike Simmons have been looking in the Old Town Scottsdale and Tempe areas, but have not settled on a location yet, Pruitt says – and undertaking construction projects, as a separate living area for the cats must be constructed, per guidelines set by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

If all goes well, Pruitt says, she hopes to open the doors to La Gattara – Italian for “cat lady,” a title the business owner proudly accepts, having personally rescued more than 300 cats and kittens – in September.

In addition to locally-sourced coffees, teas, beers, wines and some light snacks (all featuring catchy, kitty-inspired names), the cafe will double as an adoption center, temporarily housing around 15 cats from Lost Our Home Pet Rescue until they can be placed in forever homes.

“We want cats that would be overlooked and who would flourish in an open area rather than a little, tiny cage,” Pruitt says.

Giving felines a chance at forever homes

AZBigMedia Article_cat Melissa Pruitt posing with her cat Fonzie.

“It’s a place where we can showcase our amazing cats to people who might not normally see them,” Polanski says. “I want people to know that they are making a difference in the lives of cats by giving them love and attention, and the cats are helping them, too, by helping them feel relaxed and renewed.”Jodi Polanski, founder and executive director of Lost Our Home Pet Rescue, says she thinks Pruitt’s creativity allows the cafe to show cats in a positive light.

In addition to providing cuddle time with the cats, Pruitt says she hopes to educate guests about cat behavior and proper care for pets in a fun, “catified” environment.

‘Every single cat I save means a lot’

“Even if (guests) don’t adopt, we want them to see what they can do to make cats happy,” she says, adding that the cafe will feature cat furniture from Hauspanther, an online magazine for cat-lovers founded by Kate Benjamin, a Phoenix-based cat style expert who sometimes appears as a guest on Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell.”

Although menu and admission prices have not been finalized, Pruitt says she is hoping to keep the entrance fee between $5-$10.

La Gattara’s hours of operation have not been set for sure, but Pruitt says the cafe will be open every day except Mondays, most likely 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Pruitt says she thinks the cat cafe marries her love of animals and her desire to find them a family they can call their own.

“I think anyone who opens a cat cafe is in it for the cats, but for me, that’s my life,” she says. “Every single cat I save means a lot.”

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