Litter boxes and lattes: Cat café could open downtown as soon as 2016

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Daughters of Sheri Geiss, founder of Mews Cat Café, play with a cat in this screenshot from an Indiegogo video. Geiss said she aims to create a cat café similar to the ones popular in China and Japan. (Courtesy of Sheri Geiss)
Daughters of Sheri Geiss, founder of Mews Cat Café, play with a cat in this screenshot from an Indiegogo video. Geiss said she aims to create a cat café similar to the ones popular in China and Japan. (Courtesy of Sheri Geiss)

Downtown Phoenix residents can expect a new cat café to open its doors to humans and felines alike in early 2016.

Sheri Geiss, the creative mind behind Mews Cat Café, started a fundraising campaign online to open an American version of the cafés that have become popular throughout Japan and China in the past few years.

Geiss said she envisioned the café as a relaxing environment where students and the downtown crowd can grab coffee and food with the option of entering a separate room where the cats will be roaming.

“I want people to feel like they’re sitting at home,” said Geiss, who is looking for converted residential houses downtown to use for the café.

The café’s online fundraiser reached $1,173 of its $50,000 goal as of Tuesday. The fundraiser ends October 15.

The café will be a “fun, relaxing place to hang out,” Geiss said, as well as an enjoyable place to study, especially for college students having pet withdrawals since leaving home. It will also offer discounts for students.

Geiss said she wants the café to be an inviting place for people with all interests as customers listen to vinyl records, take pottery classes and participate in meditation sessions with the cats.

Another major goal of the café will be promoting the adoption of cats from the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA, the state’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter.

“We’re very excited about this opportunity to showcase our wonderful cats and kittens available for adoption,” said Judith Gardner, the president and CEO of AAWL.

Geiss said she has been adopting and rescuing cats for 15 years, and her daughters were happy to help when she told them about her idea. Previously a volunteer at AAWL, Geiss has a strong partnership with the group and said they treat the cats well and “make sure that they have a clean bill of health before they offer them for adoption.”

In the fundraiser video, Geiss’ daughters Taylour and Tristyn Geiss explain how the cats up for adoption can become more socialized and more likely to find a home the more time they spend at the café.

“I’m super excited about the cafe and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Taylour Geiss said. “I’m glad the cats are adoptable, because I think it’s important we find them good homes.”

Correction: September 9, 2015: A previous version of this article incorrectly said cats will “roam freely around the restaurant.” The cats will actually be in a separate room that customers can enter.

Contact the reporter at craig.r.johnson@asu.edu

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