Buttercup looked down from the cat tree with trepidation. A new addition to the menagerie, he was not real sure about both the humans and the other cats that they were petting and playing with. He wanted to be petted, he really did, but the top of the tree house was just safer as far as he was concerned. Besides, it was quite a show to watch.
Kittens cavorted, a beautiful three-legged cat with a coat of lush gray fur was charming the people in the room with her sweetness, and an older calico lounged on the rug with one eye open as she decided if she wanted to get involved in the fun or just catch a few ZZZZs.
This is a day in the life of the cats at Catfeine Café. All of them are rescues being fostered from three local cat shelters: Puurrrfect Paws, Rutherford County Cat Rescue, and Middle Tennessee Treasures.
What is Catfeine Café?
“We act like a foster home for these three shelters,” said Taura Byrd, co-owner of Catfeine. “None of them have a facility, they depend on volunteer foster parents.”
Part café and part animal shelter, Catfeine offers joy for all connected. The interactions with humans helps to socialize cats who have been abandoned or treated poorly by previous owners. The interaction makes the cats more likely to be adopted. And the cat interaction is relaxing and healing for stressed out humans.
Attracting Cat Lovers from Near and Far
Just a week old, the café already has a reputation for being the place to go if you are a cat lover. They not only offer cat play time for a fee, but they also offer all things cat – tee shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, candles, and home décor. Many items they carry are locally made.
“We have had people come from Knoxville and Chattanooga just to play with the cats,” said Byrd. “A family visiting from South Carolina just left. They said that the cat time was great, and the coffee is good, too!”
How it Works
The whole idea is to grab a cup of coffee and a cookie or muffin and go sit with the cats. Cat play time costs $10 for one hour, but you must have a reservation. They do take walk-ins for a half-hour if there is space, but the weekends are typically busy.
“We can only handle 15 people per hour,” said Byrd. “We have had over 500 people visit already. People come for different reasons. Some love cats but have a spouse that is allergic. Some are students who have a cat at home that they miss terribly, and they just want some cat love.”
How They Came Up with the Concept
The concept is not new. Cat cafes actually began in Asia in the 1990s. The Byrds, Taura and her husband and co-owner Curtis, saw the pitch for one on Shark Tank around 2013, and the idea kept coming back to them as they have always been cat people. Finally, they decided to go for it.
It Brings Joy to All
Butter decided to ‘go for it’ and succumbed to the efforts of one of the patrons to pet him. He came down from his perch and with a mighty purr, began pushing his head into the hand that was stroking his ears and chucking his chin. Patron and cat were smitten, as lovey eyes were traded between them.
“I almost wish I had cameras in the cat room that caught the look on people’s faces as they walk in,” said Taura, “they get so happy once they step inside.”
1602 W Northfield Blvd #500, Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Monday – Closed
Tuesday 11a – 6p
Wednesday 11a – 6p
Thursday 11a – 6p
Friday 11a – 8p
Saturday 11a – 8p
Sunday 12p – 4p