There’s a new cafe that’ll be opening in Northampton in the summer of 2019 where you’ll be able to hang out with seven or eight lounging felines while enjoying a cup of tea. It’ll be the first of its kind in the Pioneer Valley.
Cat.Fe Northampton is the brainchild of Sam Williams and Keanu Patwari and the vision for the cat cafe is to house formerly homeless cats relocated from a local shelters with the option of being adopted by a cafe patron.
Patwari, a 22-year-old resident of Worcester who graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2017 with a degree in business, said his inspiration for the business came from a recent trip to Japan, where cat cafes are popular.
“This past summer I actually went to Tokyo and in Tokyo I went to a cat cafe on Harajuku Street,” he said. “It was one of the happiest places on Earth. I was like, ‘There needs to be one of these where I live so people can go to it.’”
Williams and Patwari are presently looking at locations in downtown Northampton, but no specific storefront has been established at this time.
He said Northampton was the most attractive area because of the nearby local colleges such as Smith as well as the city’s strong access to public transportation.
The biggest challenge for Williams and Patwari is securing the funding to start their dream business. Right now, both are working full-time to save up the money to turn their idea of cat cafe into a reality.
Patwari said they’re looking to partner with adoption centers in Springfield and Holyoke to find the cats. Part of the charm of the cat cafe is anyone looking to adopt a cat can spend time with the animal and learn more about its personality before they decide to adopt.
“They have their cats sent to us and we take care of them, but when the adoption is done, it’s done through the adoption center,” he said. “Our job is really to just adopt the cats out for the adoption center.”
Williams, 20, said when customers walk in the cafe they’ll be able to pet the cats, play with them, and they can also act as surrogate pets for local college students who can’t keep a cat at their dorm.
“You walk in the door and it’s split up into two main rooms,” Patwari said. “The first room is the lobby area and per Massachusetts state regulation we can’t cook food and sell it in the same room that the animals are in … We’ll have a cafe room where you can get your food and drinks. From there, you can bring certain foods into the cat room, which is totally separate room. Obviously, we’re going to stay away from food that might hurt the cats if they were to eat it. In the cat room, there’s pretty much a lounging area where you can pet the cats. They’ll be bean bag chairs, couches, a scratching post for the cats and all sorts of toys. And there’ll also be a room just for the cats, so they can get away from the people if they need a break.”
The menu will consist of light fare such as tea, pastries, and cookies with vegan options, Williams said.
News of the proposed cat cafe in Northampton gained a large buzz on social media on Feb. 25. More than 1,400 reacted to the post on Facebook and 1,374 left comments. Cat.Fe Northampton’s Facebook page already has 2,061 likes as of March 20.
“I did not expect so many people to like the page and to be exposed to the page and to react so positively to this idea,” Patwari said. “We’re very grateful.”
Chris Goudreau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.