Cats. Coffee. And … more cats.
What else do you need?
Long Beach’s first brick-and-mortar cat cafe, called Feline Good Social Club, is set to open in Downtown Long Beach on Atlantic Avenue and Third Street on April 27. The club is one of a handful of cat cafes opening in Southern California, following the trend that was first popularized in Japan.
The idea is this: a cafe takes in a certain number of rescue cats and patrons come and play with or just be around them, either socializing the cats to further their adopt-ability or falling in love and adopting the cat themselves. The cats will avoid being euthanized in an animal shelter and hopefully find a forever home.
“We’ll save lives and also provide a really cool experience for people,” said Erica Johnson, one of three partners opening the cafe.
The club already has 18 cats ready to go to the cafe, sourced from their own non-profit rescue group, Long Beach Feline. They range from kittens to about 5 years old right now, but Johnson said the cafe will not discriminate against senior or special-needs cats. Johnson said they’re building relationships with other rescue groups to get cats from in the future.
The club will feature three forest-themed areas where people can hang out, work around or play with rescue cats of all ages. One room will feature a giant tree structure for the cats to play on. A closed room will be reserved for cats who are still assimilating to the environment and nursing cat-moms.
While the cafe won’t be able to prepare food because of California’s strict health codes, they will provide complimentary coffee and tea for patrons. Customers can bring their own snacks, though, and even alcohol, Johnson said.
“It’s going to be a place for a lot of different things: a place to socialize with friends, a place to work,” Johnson said. The cafe will provide free wifi and an abundance of outlets.
Johnson said they’re still working out the pricing details, but the cafe will charge around $15 for admission into the club, with special pricing for day passes, seniors and students. They hope to have special events like game night and cat yoga (like goat yoga, but less bahhh) too.
The cats will be added to the cafe during the week before opening day, Johnson said. Volunteers will spend time with the cats to assimilate them to the environment and to being around a lot of people.
Going to a cat cafe is a good option for those who want to have pets but can’t, either because their rentals won’t allow it, or they don’t have enough time to dedicate to a pet, or someone in their household has allergies, Johnson said. In fact, that’s how she got into the business.
Two years ago, after having to re-home her own two cats because she moved into an apartment that wouldn’t allow pets, Johnson was looking for a way to spend time with animals without owning them. When she looked for a cat cafe in Long Beach and couldn’t find one, she instead found a meetup and rescue group called Long Beach Felines with people who wanted to open a cat cafe.
Together they decided to make it happen, she said.
For the three partners, Pam Leslie, Tamara Trujilo and Johnson, the club is a culmination of multiple years of dreaming, planning and working. They each put in their own money to start the business, but also raised $6,000 through an IndieGoGo campaign.
Leslie, a former full-time accountant, now works for the cafe full-time. Trujilo, a professor, and Johnson, an executive assistant, will eventually join the business full-time too, Johnson said.
As for the business model, the group is confident that it will be successful, especially with other cat cafes in the U.S. doing “phenomenally” and the passionate cat community in Long Beach, she said.
“There are some cafes (in America) where they’ve had over a thousand adoptions in the span of several years,” Johnson said. “… All those cats are being saved from euthanasia.”
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