At coffee shops around Des Moines, meetings take place, deals are sealed with a handshake and friends meet for conversation.
At Coffee Cats, things are purrfectly different. After ordering coffee, wander next door into the cat lounge, where you sip your java while a cat sits contentedly on your lap. If you’re so inclined, fill out some paperwork and the cat is yours.
Coffee Cats is Iowa’s first cat café, which opened last year in West Des Moines’ Valley Junction. The café is an extension of the Animal
Rescue League. Cats brought into local ARL offices are selected to hang out at the café for possible adoption. Coffee Cats gives cats a break
from staying in cages and potential adopters can play with cats in a casual setting.
Patrons pay a fee to enter the lounge, which includes cat towers and perches, plus human seating. A bird feeder in the sunny front window
provides cat entertainment.
On the café side, patrons sit at tables in a sunny room with a glass window to view cats for free. Coffee creations such as Peppermint Meow Mocha, along with various pastries and drinks, can be purchased. Cat items are for sale across from a wall of photos of adopted cats.
As of Feb. 1, 204 cats have been adopted, including Roz, by Ashlee Bliss of Ankeny.
Ashlee took her two boys along with her daughter, Ayla, to the café for Ayla’s 11th birthday. They never intended to adopt a cat — they wanted a safe place to go for a celebration.
“We just wanted to hang out,” says Ashlee. “We weren’t planning on adopting a cat.”
However, as she and her kids played with the cats, she noticed one cat wasn’t afraid of her rambunctious young sons. “The one year-old sat and played with the cats. Our daughter could pick up the cat, and she wasn’t bothered by kids,” she says.
By the time they got home, Ashlee discussed with her husband and they agreed to adopt the cat. She quickly phoned to see if Roz (later renamed Hazel) was available, picking her up the next day.
The café also provides entertainment, as both Hannah Zimmerman and Michael Johnson discovered.
Hannah and Michael stopped in Coffee Cats on Jan. 29, their wedding day. They planned an outdoor afternoon wedding. That morning they ate breakfast in Valley Junction and stopped to play with the cats.
Hannah explains, “We’re getting married today. It’s kind of stressful, and we wanted to spend time in here relaxing and not thinking about today.”
Although the pair didn’t commit to adopting, they seemed content as they smiled and petted cats peeking from their perches.
So, for your next coffee shop transaction, raising a paw — instead of a handshake — might bring greater satisfaction. ♦