Seventeen years ago, an entrepreneur in Taipei, Taiwan opened the world’s very first café with cats as the guests’ accompaniment. With this attraction being as bizarre as it sounds, word got out and the cafés began to blossom worldwide.
These “cat cafés” have become such a trend that they have gained publicity on shows like “Shark Tank” and “The Amazing Race.”
Entrepreneur and cat lover, Melissa Pruitt, decided it was Arizona’s turn. Pruitt plans to open LaGattara Cat Café by January 2016. As of now, there is not an exact location. However Pruitt says, “We are looking at some locations in Old Town Scottsdale. Old Town is a great area that is walkable and quite central.”
Thinking back, Pruitt proudly explained that rescuing cats is in her blood. Her father, the sheriff of a small town in Illinois, was always one to feed, rescue and find homes to stray alley cats.
“I say it’s in my blood, because I only met my dad once and I have all the same traits as him when it comes to cats,” she says.
Pruitt’s inspiration to take action came from Adam Myatt and Anne Dunn, the owners of Cat Town, the United States’ very first cat café in Oakland. After paying a visit, Pruitt immediately knew that this is what she wanted to do. She loved the idea that cats can get out of the stressful environment of a shelter, and into a safe place where they can roam free, relax and receive healthy attention.
“The ultimate goal for the café will be to provide a calm open space for the cats and people to come together,” explains Pruitt. The cafe will have roughly 15-20 cats, all of which will be able to sleep freely about the café, as well as have access to a private room where they can be alone.
Pruitt is also making adoption an option.
“All cats will be adoptable!” Pruitt exclaims. “We are still working out the details with our partner shelters, but most likely we will do the application process at the café, and all adoptions fees will go back to the partner shelter.”
The café is currently in the process of finalizing these partner shelters, including All About Animals. There will be adoption packets loaded with information and Pruitt plans to go over it in detail with each adoption as every situation is different.
There will also be some new, exciting ideas that will make her cat café unique and fun. Not only will LaGattara Cat Café be incorporating a wine bar, Pruitt plans to include events with the cats like yoga and paint night. Customers can also rent out the café for birthday parties and corporate events.
Pruitt has lived in the Valley for 12 years and has independently rescued more than 300 cats and kittens with her own money.
“Making this a business, I’ll be able to help in a bigger way,” she says. “I’ve been in property management for almost 20 years and I’m ready to follow my heart and do what I love.”