A brown and gray, tiger-striped tabby cat hid in a cat tower by the window of the Feeline Good Cat Cafe. After 20 minutes of head patting and coaxing from her future owner, she emerged from her hiding place.
Rachel Selby, a University of Central Florida digital media sophomore, went to the Feeline Good Cat Cafe at 201 SE Second Place near the Hippodrome State Theatre on June 26 and left with Nali, the newest addition to her family.
“When I went to go leave to go get something from the cafe, she followed me,” she said. “That's when I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I think she might slightly be attached to me,’ which is nice because it's hard to make bonds with cats, especially when you first meet them.”
The cafe opened on June 21 and gives guests a chance to interact with cats that are up for adoption. The first floor has a coffee bar with muffins, cookies, tea and coffee, and a separate room for people to visit the cats, decorated with a cat tree, climbing shelves and window perches. The second floor is filled with tables and couches for guests to lounge and study.
The cats are provided by the Humane Society of North Central Florida, which has 30 adult cats available for adoption as of July 3. The room at the cafe allows a maximum of 10 cats at a time but has stayed between five and seven so far.
Margot DeConna, the 35-year-old director of advancement for the Humane Society, said they provide cats that will be comfortable around the other cats at the cafe.
“We basically have been bringing over fully vetted, spayed, neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, adoptable adult cats to the cat cafe where they live and wait to find their forever home,” she said.
The collaborative effort makes the adoption process easier. In the cat room, a QR code leading to the adoption application allows the process to be done entirely online with an adoption cost of $75.
Francesca Hall, the 23-year-old founder and owner, said more than a dozen new cats have been brought over since the cafe’s opening. She grew up around cats and was inspired by the Witty Whisker Cat Cafe in St. Augustine, where she got her second cat.
Hall said she still gets photos from people who adopt cats from her cafe.
“The most rewarding thing so far has been the feedback of their cats in their home,” she said. “Just seeing them happy and healthy.”
Hall’s family helped bring her dream to life by helping her renovate and decorate the space after she signed the lease on Jan. 21. Her dad and 26-year-old sister, Gabby Hall, who serves as the cafe’s social media manager, have been a big help in getting the business off the ground during opening week, she said.
“It's been very busy — super busy,” Gabby Hall said. “Between the three of us we've been able to manage it pretty well.”
Both Francesca and Gabby Hall adopted cats from the cafe. Francesca Hall adopted a 2-year-old orange tabby named Que, and Gabby Hall took home Andre, an 8-year-old black cat.
Andrew Poirier, a Florida State University computer engineering sophomore, adopted Apollo, a 5-year-old white and gray cat, for his girlfriend.
“Since it was her first cat ever, we were thinking of getting a calm, older cat that wouldn't be as difficult to take care of,” he said. “This cat would sleep all the time so that's also what made the decision really easy.”
After adopting a cat, the new owner can take a polaroid with it to go on the wall at the cafe. Selby said she took two photos so she could take one home.
“I have a polaroid wall of special memories,” she said. “Now, we have Nali on the wall, too.”
Contact Joelle Wittig at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoelleWittig.