This place is the cat’s meow
Cat cafés may not be commonplace in the U.S. just yet, but in other parts of the world, they have already taken off. These hybrid businesses serve an important function here in the states, offering a model that is part adoption center and part sanctuary, different from the overseas counterparts after which they were modeled.
On Jan. 1, serial entrepreneur and Reno native Devin Sizemore opened Reno’s first cat café, Enchanted Cat Café, a for-profit business that sells both coffee and time with cats by the hour. Many of the cats are adoptable.
“We’re animal people,” Sizemore said of he and fiancée/business partner Hayley Meadows. “I’ve just always been around animals and I love animals innately.”
He was inspired by a video he saw online of someone touring a cat café in Japan. In Tokyo alone there are 50 cat cafes, although there, cats aren’t kept as pets so the business model is a bit different.
Enchanted Cat Café is located on Double R Boulevard in a 3,500-square-foot space that includes a cat sanctuary, a separate coffee shop and an upstairs event space (that currently houses a smattering of kittens given the season). The goal in opening the business was two-fold: to help local animals and to create a duplicable business that would turn a profit.
“It’s more complex than [adoptions],” Sizemore says. “It truly changes what rescues in the area are able to do.”
Every week, 300-500 people come into the café and pay the hourly fee of $15 to interact with the cats and kittens ($12 per person for groups of three or more). There are two permanent residents at the café at all times. Other animals are available for adoption, but the number of available cats and kittens changes from day to day. After one has been adopted, they typically stay on site for the next week or so to create a seamless transition from café to home.
There are currently 19 cats at the café.
The third part of the business is about therapy. Humans enjoy several benefits from interacting with animals. So, even if you have no interest in taking a cat home, the cat café offers an opportunity for patrons of all ages (kids included) to get a mental health break with some furry friends.
Those who come in can break up their hour however they see fit, visiting kittens on the top floor or the older cats downstairs. Adult cats are separated from kittens to ensure they don’t share diseases before the youngins can be fully vaccinated.
On average, Enchanted Cat Café books 42 sessions per day. There are no limitations, and anyone can visit. In its first five months of business, Sizemore and Meadows helped to facilitate 50 adoptions.
The impact this has on local shelters is vast. By clearing up room in the shelters, more cats are saved. Sizemore and Meadows also take on the care costs of the cats, aside from medical visits, which is another benefit to the shelters which no longer have to provide food, toys and kitty litter for those cats.
If you’re looking for a kitten, Sizemore says you’ll have to act fast. One Friday in May, eight new kittens came into the café sanctuary. By the end of day Saturday they were all adopted. “It’s really hit or miss on how many are available for adoption at any given moment,” he said.
The coffeeshop is completely separate from the animals in accordance with strict laws on animals and food mixing. If you have cat allergies, you can show your support in the shop without ever coming into contact with a cat.
Come in and enjoy a vanilla mocha or latte from a local business–they stock Blind Dog coffee and Glory Cloud coffee and tea. For food, everything comes from Mother of Macros, including wraps, donuts, brownies, cookies, snack packs and more. A special cold brew collaboration between Lighthouse Coffee and Dorinda’s Chocolate is also available.
“We sell out of our chai lattes all the time,” Sizemore said.
There is also a retail store that stocks cat supplies, cat-themed knick-knacks and Kimmie Candy.
The ultimate goal is to move into a consultancy position, Sizemore said, helping others to open cat cafés across the country.
Walk-ins are welcome but reservations are strongly encouraged. Only 15 people are allowed per hour to keep the experience positive for all guests. There are also sometimes private events that shut down parts of the sanctuary. All of this is listed on the online calendar so it’s easy to know when a visit is feasible.
In addition, the upstairs event space is used for other community events. On June 11 there will be a craft fair. Most of the experiences, however, are animal-oriented, including cat yoga, once-a-month bunny yoga, snake experiences, partnerships with the Animal Ark, raptor shows and more.
To visit, check the website, enchantedcatcafe.com, and make a reservation in advance. The space is open to guests Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Or book a private party.
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.