They first appeared in trendsetting Tokyo, then in big cities like New York and San Francisco and now Arizona cat lovers can rejoice as cat cafes are finally making appearances in Phoenix.
The history of cat cafes begins in Asia in 1998 where at that time, they only served a therapeutic purpose. In highly populated cities like Tokyo, not everyone can own a pet, and the cafes gave lonely citizens a chance to bond with a furry feline friend.
Now cat cafes are appearing in cities all across the states, but unlike the original Japanese versions, these cafes have a broader purpose — to help find stray cats new homes.
Melissa Pruitt aims to contribute to this cause through the opening of her cat café, “La Gattara.”
Pruitt’s passion for the business comes from a lifelong love of rescuing and mothering hundreds of cats.
“I’ve done a lot of rescue over the years but I feel that with the cat café I can make a much bigger impact,” Pruitt said. “I now have the opportunity to be a voice for the cat community and to help educate people on proper cat care.”
Cat café owners put a stress on spaying and neutering, and all of the cats come from animal shelters.
La Gattara has partnered with All About Animals Rescue to not only help get cats adopted but also to keep cats out of cages and provide them with the opportunity to enjoy a free-range atmosphere.
“We’re really excited about partnering with La Gattara and seeing an increase in cat cafes in the valley,” All About Animals shelter director Samantha Brown said.
“There’s been a stigma about cats and cat people in our society and I think cat cafes are bringing on a new look to the traditional image of a cat lady and making it trendy.”
All About Animals will be providing La Gattara with 12-15 cats that will interact with customers in the café and be available for adoption at any time.
“I’m so happy to be working with All About Rescue,” Pruitt said. “They are all volunteer based so those people dedicate their lives to this cause and most of them have been doing it for many years. This is what they do. This is their life. It’s amazing.”
Pruitt has taken inspiration from the variety of cat cafes across the globe and added her own unique touch. A partnership with Hauspanther, a cat design company owned by cat design expert Kate Benjamin, will provide La Gattara with unique cat themed furniture including an obstacle course for the cats to enjoy. La Gattara will also feature fun events like paint nights and yoga classes with the cats.
Pruitt hopes to open shop in early 2016, though an exact location hasn’t been determined yet. However, she is certain her business will open in Old Town Scottsdale adding to the leisurely atmosphere of the area.
Fundraising is currently taking place and will continue through the New Year.