Amy Radtke always thought cats were creepy. The 36-year-old flight attendant was far from keen on taking her two young children to a café full of homeless felines. “I just associated cats with lonely old ladies,” she says.
But when Radtke and her little ones, eight-year-old Molly and seven-year-old Frankie, stumbled upon the Denver Cat Company’s cat café in the Berkeley neighborhood, she was transfixed. The little family went home that day toting a to-go coffee and a gray-and-white ball of fur named Romeo (whom Molly affectionately refers to as “Rome-Cuteness”).
“Going to the Cat Company made me feel like instead of being a crazy cat lady, it would be possible to be a cool cat owner,” Radtke says with a laugh. “It just kind of changed my mind about the whole concept of cats and what it means to be a pet owner.”
Radtke became a regular at the cat café, partly because it gave her a space to talk with her friends while her kiddos were distracted by kittens.
Sana Hamelin, the owner of 18-month-old Denver Cat Company, is now hoping to expand on that concept. She’s planning to open America’s first evening-only cat bar, a separate location from the café, where felines and wine can be enjoyed side-by-side.
“A number of our customers are young women who want to go out and have a glass of wine with their girlfriends. And see cool cats,” Hamelin says.
Hamelin is using Kickstarter to fund the project (and cute pictures to promote it). The campaign offers prizes that let you get up-close-and-purr-sonal with the cats if you donate to the cause, including a “slumber party” at the bar with the cats for $750.
Of course, the biggest hurdle for Hamelin is working with the city to secure permits. Health department regulations currently forbid animals where food is prepared and served (save for service animals). On the Kickstarter page, Hamelin addresses this concern, noting that there are full-service cat cafés in both New York City and Portland, so the idea can be replicated. The Denver Cat Company plans to have a cat lounge that’s separate from where food and drinks are prepared, which will hopefully alleviate any concerns the Health department will have.
The ultimate goal for Hamelin and the Denver Cat Company is to help more kitties find happy furever homes. The organization currently works with local animal rescues to get adoptable kitties for the café. So far, they’ve helped more than 150 cats find families. With the addition of a cat bar, they hope to adopt out even more. After all, when you have a cat, you never drink alone.