Cat cafes are a trend that has been around for a while now. They have become increasingly popular with new venues popping up across the globe, including many in the United States. There is now the possibility that a new cat café will open in Des Moines, Iowa. A cat café is a form of theme café where the visitors can pet the cats and watch them play. The first-ever cat café was called ‘Cat Flower Garden’, and it opened in 1998 in Taipei, Taiwan. Although the idea for cat cafes came from Taiwan, it was Japan where the craze really took off. The trend eventually spread to other parts of Asia, and then Europe also caught onto the trend.
It was a while before cat cafes opened in the United States, and this was partly because of the health and safety legislation in place. The first cat café in the United States was KiTea’s, and this was opened in San Francisco in 2014. The owner of the café had started the process of opening this business almost a year before, and it took months to get the plans approved. The cat cafes in the United States are different from those in some other countries. While they are a great place for cat lovers to enjoy a drink while petting and watching the cats, they also serve the purpose of finding new homes for cats. American cat cafes usually team up with local rescue shelters so that the cats housed in the cafes are rescue cats looking for a new home.
While the trend in the United States began along the coast and in the major cities, there were soon cat cafes popping up inland. The latest person to consider a venture in this field is May Jankowski. She is hoping to open a cat café called ‘Coffee Cats’ in the Des Monies metro in Iowa some time in 2020. She has teamed up with the Animal Rescue League who will provide cats for her new venture. The Valley Junction coffee shop will open on 312 Fifth Street in West Des Moines. It is a 1,900-square-feet space on the ground floor of a building dating back to the 1900s. The building is being redeveloped by Scott Cutler, who is also converting the upper levels of the building into three apartments.
Next door to the Coffee Cats location, a second building is also being redeveloped. This will have offices on the lower level and apartments on the upper level. The aim is to have a mix of market-rate and affordable units. According to Cutler, the redevelopments will be completed by the summer of 2020. Mary Jankowski is a former health counselor who found out about the concept of cat cafes around three years ago. One of her main inspirations to start her own business is that she wanted to open somewhere that had work and volunteer opportunities for adults with special needs. This comes from her personal experiences as she has a daughter with autism. Her daughter has struggled to find work because of her difficulties, and Jankowski wanted to help both her daughter and others with special needs.
Her other inspiration comes from her grandmother. Jankowski wants to create a space that is comfortable and homely where people can relax, just like her grandmother’s country farmhouse kitchen. She hopes to recreate the same atmosphere at her cat café. She hopes that collaborating with an animal shelter will have mutual benefits. She wants to offer people who love cats a place where they can hang out with felines. If the cats have come from a rescue shelter, then it opens the opportunity for some of the cats to find a forever home with visitors to the café that have bonded with them.
The venue is being divided into two separate areas. One section is just a café that serves coffee house favorites, such as cappuccinos, espressos, and lattes. If people are not interested in cats, then they can simply grab a drink at this end of the property. The other half of the space is the cat play area. Café visitors can go and spend time with the cats while they have a drink, or people can simply book a play session with the cats without visiting the café. Jankowski is offering the option for guests to book a play session online and to pay an hourly rate. One of the reasons that the café is separated in this way is to adhere to Iowa health regulations. Jankowski has needed to work with state health official as part of the planning for her business. She has described it as a learning experience for both parties.
Currently, she is awaiting the approval of her tenant improvement plans, which is a vital part of the approval process. Until she has received all the necessary approvals and been given the go-ahead by officials. Jankowski cannot open her cat café. News of a potential cat café in the area is something that will delight cat lovers in Des Moines. It will also please those who support the work of rescue shelters. However, not everybody agrees that cat cafes are a good idea. According to the BBC, some animal welfare organizations believe that cat cafes are not a suitable environment for cats. This is because of the confined space and the fact that there is a revolving population of people coming through the doors who may touch cats that do not want petting. There are also those who worry about the health implications of having animals in a venue that serves food and drink.
Despite these concerns, there are strict regulations to which those who own cat cafes in the United States must adhere to have such a business. Also, the welfare of the animals is always the primary concern of the café owners, as these establishments are almost always owned by cat lovers.