Alabama Opens Its First Cat Cafe “Gatos and Beans”

Alabama Cat Cafe

Businesses are becoming more aware of the desires of pet owners and the special bond that they have with their pets. Once, places that served food banned dogs, with the exception of service dogs. Then some cafes and restaurants began to realize that they could increase their trade by allowing dog owners to bring in their pets. This was especially the case for businesses close to popular dog walking spots, as they realized that people were more likely to stop for a drink and a bite to eat if they could also bring their pooch. There are now more cafes and restaurants than ever that allow dogs to dine in with their owners.

However, cats were still missing out, and cat owners were not getting the same opportunities to share a meal out with their furry friends. In recent years, this has all changed as there are now cat cafes popping up all over the place that allows cat owners and their pets to relax with a meal and a drink together. Other variations of these businesses have cats living permanently in the café and the visitors are simply cat lovers who want to spend time around these animals.  Alabama is now getting in on this game as the first cat café has now opened in this state. According to Alabama Life, the first cat café is called Gatos and Beans, and it is located in Birmingham Alabama.

Married couple Kelli and Stephen Steward are the founders of the café, which they opened because they love everything about cats. Kelli has described the creatures as each being unique with their own personality and needs.  Prior to opening the café, the couple had to become acquainted with the nine cats that would reside in the café. They then settled the cats into Gatos and Beans, which opened to the public on July 20, 2019.  Before this venue became a café, it was once a tire store. It is located on 4348 Third Court South and has been renovated to meet the needs of its new residents. In addition to being home to the nine cats, is also a coffee shop that serves a range of hot drinks and snacks. In the future, Kelli and Stephen are also planning to add wine and beer to the menu.

Those who visit the café can sit enjoying a drink and a chat with friends, while also having the opportunity to interact with the resident cats. Each of the cats has their own personality, so regular visitors to the café will soon find their personal favorite feline friend.  However, the benefits of the café are not just for the diners as another aim of the business is intended to benefit the cats. All the cats in the café are rescue cats that are looking for a new home. The hope is that visitors to the café will adopt the cats. As soon as one cat is adopted, it is replaced with another rescue cat that needs a forever home.  The cats that are currently living at Gatos and Beans include Penelope, Meep Meep, Lura, Nikki, Juniper, Url, Juliet, Sarafina, and Blanc. Each of the cats originally came from the Kitt Kat Haven & Rescue, which is located in nearby Hoover in Alabama. This rescue center is working closely with Gator and Beans to make sure that the right cats are chosen to become residents of the café.

Rita Bowman is the founder and direct of Kitty Kat Haven & Rescue. She has said that she believes that working with the café in this way is the perfect way to showcase the cats and to make sure they are adopted into forever homes.  Kelli Steward has said that the first group of cats residing at Gator and Beans are getting along with each other very well. However, not all of them are as confident about approaching the visitors to the café as others. Generally, they are all sociable with people, which is important for visitors to connect and interact with the cats. While some will make the first move and jump onto the lap of a visitor, others will sit and wait until the visitors approach them.  There are some of the cats that have already had a big impact on visitors. One who is a big hit with guests is a gray Manx cat called Url. He is a chilled-out cat who has adopted the approach of sitting and waiting for the visitors to come to him. As the visitors like him so much, it is possible that he will soon find himself a new home with loving owners.

While Gator and Beans is the first cat café in Alabama, this is not an entirely new concept in other parts of the world. In fact, there is a current trend for cat cafes in the United Kingdom. They have been popping up all over the UK, with many located in city center locations, especially London.  By 2016, there were already nine cat cafes in the UK, and the number has risen significantly in the three years since. The BBC took a look at the benefits of cat cafes back in 2016 when cat cafes were first becoming a trend. The report noted the popularity of cat venues and how some were helping cats to find new homes, just like Gator and Beans. On the other hand, the report looked at the downsides of cat cafes and the objections of some organizations. One organization that is opposed to these cafes is the RSPCA. They argue that a cat café is not a good living environment for cats.  The BBC’s report tells how the first cat café in the world opened in Taiwan in 1998 and then became a trend in Japan. The first cat café opened in the UK in 2014, and this was called Lady Dinah’s. Now, the craze is spreading around the United States, and it is likely that many more cat cafes similar to Gator and Beans will open in the future.


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