We’ve done our best at I HAVE CAT to report on the cat cafés sprouting up around the world – including the United States – over the past months.
Thanks to IHC fan, Jeannie Menor, today we bring you an inside look at Denver Cat Company, one of the more recent cafes to open in the US. She even had the opportunity to interview Sana Q. Hamelin, the woman behind the café – and its’ only full-time employee.
As described on the website, “Sana is a refugee from the hard-nosed world of corporate litigation,” and has always had a passion for cats. She even has a grey cat of her very own!
In addition to be an avid I HAVE CAT reader (okay, I made that part up), Jeannie is
married with four rescue cats: Vegas 17, Bogart 12, Bella 6. and Bombay 7 who has his own Facebook Page, Bombay’s World to raise awareness about alternative treatments, like acupuncture and laser treatments, he receives to help with arthritis and bone loss.
Jeannie describes the atmosphere as being:
“…a comfy cozy family room, lots of nooks, shelves filled with books board games, and beds and cat trees for the cats. Also, lots of cat themed art on the walls. The cats are all very relaxed in this home setting and love the attention from the guests…
….It’s a great place to relax , have a beverage and just hang with the cats, I am happy it’s close to my home as I will be going back for sure!!! They always have 8 cats in the cafe from Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue. This month they are featuring FIV+ cats!” (gotta love that!).
From my perspective (Tamar here!) it has what I imagine to be a very “Denver-like” vibe that differs greatly from the urban “hip” décor of Cat Town Café and the ultra-sleek modernly decorated Meow Parlour. If I had to compare it to any cafes I’ve seen in pictures, it seems to have that warn-in comfy feel that reigns at Dinah’s Emporium in London.
Without any further ado, here’s Jeannie’s Q&A with founder and very busy cat woman Sana!
J: What prompted you to create a cat café?
S: My first love has always been cats, when traveling around Europe, (London, and Paris) I visited several cat cafes and wanted to bring my love of cats to the US and help homeless cats.
J: Why do you think it will be a success?
S: Cat Café’s in the US are very unique, it’s a one of a kind place and people really love cats.
J: Do you have any cats of your own?
S: Yes, I have one cat, my sister and I have always been cat people.
J: What was the hardest part about opening the café?
S: Everything!! Pulling it all together, getting the strict permits needed is a very hard process. I did this all on my own, so of course cost and uncertainty of opening date do to having all permits in place etc. I wanted to make sure I had enough money to get up and running.
J: What kind of research did you do in advance?
S: Since there are not lots of Cat Café’s here in the US, there was really not much research to do and not much on the internet either. I did talk to the Cat Café’s abroad, but it’s not rocket science, I did check local laws to see what was needed.
J: What was your biggest surprise so far?
S: How many guys like cats!!! Everyone thinks guys are dog people, but there are plenty who love cats!!!
J: How did you decide if the cats should be adoptable or not?
S; My goal was to help cats get homes. I was fortunate to be contacted by Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue http://www.rmfr-colorado.org/, a small local no kill cat rescue and cage free shelter. I was glad to be able to partner with a smaller cat only shelter as I think we can do great work together.
J: How are the cats selected for the café and how are adoptions processed?
S: The Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue helps select and integrate the cats into the café, no cat is forced to stay in the café if they are too stressed.
There are 8 Cats in the café at one time, there is also an area at the back of the café for cats to retreat to if they need a break from all the attention with litter boxes and beds. Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue reviews and makes decisions on applications.
J: Tell me about the rules of the café.
S: The rules are posted on our board when customers walk in: Proper “Catiquette” Must Be Observed:
- Let sleeping cats lie
- Pet at your own risk and only if kitty wants
- Cats are not declawed
- Don’t follow cats into back room it’s their refuge
Rules for Kids:
- Must be closely supervised
- Step gently
- No running or chasing cats
- Use low voices
- Kids may not pick up cats
- Be gentle with cats they may scratch
J: What sort of drinks and food do you serve customers?
S: We serve Pueblo-based Solar Roast coffee in a medium and dark roast, six flavors of Boulder-based Celestial Seasonings tea, hot chocolate, and a variety of cold beverages, including Snapple, soda, Perrier, Izze, bottled water, etc. To comply with health and food regulations, our menu is basic. For food, we have fresh bakery items from Martine’s Muffins as well as a medley of pre-packaged snacks.
J: Do you have any other activities at the cafe?
S: Painting classes are regularly offered through our partner Teller Street Gallery. We also feature art from local artists in the cafe, which doubles as a gallery space. We have used books and a free library for everyone to enjoy.
The Denver Cat Company opened on December 12th. They have since adopted 19 cats into forever homes!!! They are open 6 days a week, closed on Mondays. I thank Sana from her time and wish her success!
If you missed them, be sure to check out my posts about Purina’s NYC pop-up cat café, and NYC’s Meow Parlour for CatChannel.com, as well as guest posts about cat cafes in London, Italy, and Oakland (Cat Town Cat Café, the 1st cat café in the United States – pre opeining and on opening day!) not to mention Montreal’s Le Café des Chats, the 1st cat café to open in all of the Americas!
We’re still looking for guest reporters/bloggers to write about the Cat Cafes in Paris, Naples, FL and San Diego (and any others I may have missed!). So shoot me an email if you’re up for it! firstname.lastname@example.org