The first of its kind in Macomb County, Kitty Catfé
launched at Partridge Creek Mall last month. The donation-run coffee and tea house has one goal: to rescue cats from their cages.
The cafe’s cats come from the Humane Society of Macomb
and A Rejoyceful Animal Rescue
(ARAR) — two nonprofit organizations that provide care for unwanted, abused, and neglected animals until they are adopted into their permanent homes. Kitty Catfé seeks to do the same in an environment where the cats roam free.
“ARAR is thrilled for this opportunity,” office and cat manager Lisa Polidori says. “Adult cats are often overlooked, and finding a foster home for them is challenging. At the Catfé they are welcomed with open arms, and we are grateful.”
In addition to the two nonprofit partners, the cafe accepts cats from private entities.
“I'm very selective, depending on the circumstance,” says cafe owner, Heather K. "[The cats] have to be vetted and spayed and neutered and up to date on their vaccines, so it's difficult because a lot of the cats aren’t, but if they are, and they're a fit — if they get along with other cats and humans — then I will absolutely take them in."
The cafe originally opened in Mount Clemens in April but had to close down seven weeks later, according to Heather K., due to location issues. However, she started a GoFundMe that collected about 40% of the startup costs for the new location, which was established in Clinton Township in October.
The idea to open a cat cafe sparked for her last August, when she wanted to do something fun for her daughter’s birthday.
“Somebody had suggested I should take [my daughter] to a cat cafe,” Heather K. says. “I guess they're really big overseas in Japan and in parts of Europe, and I had never heard of what one was, so when I did a little bit of research, I three days later had formed Kitty Catfé.”
The cafe runs on donations — visitors pay an $18 donation at the door or may opt to donate
via Cash App, Venmo, or PayPal. They also accept supplies via an Amazon wishlist, as well as toys and cat condos from visitors. The new location features a “Rainbow Kitty Wall” dedicated to donors and their own cats.
Currently, the cafe is by appointment only, but if guests stop by and there is availability, they are welcome. Visitors have the opportunity to hang out with the cats and enjoy a complimentary hot beverage.
For frequent visitors, the cafe offers tiered memberships.
Additionally, there are special events available for sign-up, from painting to tarot reading to yoga sessions to movie nights with the cats.
“Our events seem to be the hit more than the visits actually,” Heather K. says. “Movie nights have the greatest turnout as far as people wanting to adopt cats because after the movie, the cats kind of pick you. They're cuddling with you on the couch. The lights are out. You're eating popcorn. The cats are much more relaxed, and you can see their true personalities.”
During the seven weeks the cafe was open in Mount Clemens, 34 cats were adopted, and an additional four adopted during the new location’s grand opening. Visitors can adopt cats both in-person or online for $100 to $150.
“My goal is to have between 30 and 34 [cats] at any given time [..] I want 1000 cats adopted in the first year, so that's what I'm going for,” Heather K. says. “That's my driving force right now.”
What sets the Kitty Catfé apart from other shelters is its free-roaming, laidback environment. Visitors looking to adopt can come in, have a seat on the couch, and the cats can come up to them.
“It's better than a shelter environment when there's a lot of noise and chaos in the background and they’re caged and already nervous and you're putting your fingers through the cage and they're scared,” Heather K. says. “Here, you're visiting their home, so they're relaxed. It's their cat condos, it's their couch, they live there 24/7.”
Decompression time is a critical part of fostering a peaceful environment for the cats. Because the cats need downtime to hide after receiving lots of attention from guests, the cafe is currently open only three days a week.
However, since the new location is double the size of the prior Mount Clemens space — and can hold twice the amount of cats — the business may be able to increase their hours because there is now a backroom where the cats can retreat away from the public.
“The enrichment provided at the Kitty Catfé is so important for a feline's mental health,” Polidori says. “The combination of feline friends, wall shelves, exercise wheel, toys, brushing, and snuggles allows for all needs to be met. I very much like that there is a back area the kitties can stay in if they are not feeling social, and Heather never forces them to interact unless it is on their terms. She has made the Kitty Catfé, first and foremost, the home of the cats.”
According to Heather K., maintaining this new nonprofit is time-consuming. Her daughter works for her on the weekends, and volunteers help out with cleaning in the mornings, as well as during open hours on Wednesdays and Fridays, but she does not have an official staff yet.
“At Mount Clemens, I got it down to 87 hours a week so it’s a lot [...], but I learned from Mount Clemens and I have some help now at Partridge Creek [...] There are no days off — they’re living beings, so you're there seven days a week. They have to be maintained and made sure that they're well and they're fed.”
*Heather K. requested her last name be withheld for privacy purposes.