Cats and coffee
by Heather Jones Skaggs
Order a beverage at Gatos and Beans in Avondale and you just might find a forever furry friend to take home. The cat café, which opened in July, is the first of its kind in Alabama and the brainchild of Kelli and Stephen Steward.
No, they are not serving cats. “A cat café is a coffee shop/wine bar with an adoption center inside,” Kelli explains. “This is a place to come enjoy a beverage of your choice and spend time with adoptable cats.”
One half of the building serves as a coffee shop and the other, which is glassed in, houses the cat room. The kitty digs are impressive with artistic trees built into the walls and platforms of varying heights for the cats to jump and climb on. All of the cats at Gatos and Beans are up for adoption through the rescue group Kitty Kat Haven. The first two cats to find their forever home, Meep Meep and Sarafina, were adopted in August.
Coffee and cats are a pretty good mix. The admission fee covers your drip coffee, or loose leaf tea, or you can upgrade to a latte or glass of wine. The café serves coffee from Red Bike Coffee, a specialty roaster in Irondale.
“Then you get to go hang out and relax with cats who need a home. It is a win-win for both people and cats,” Kelli says. The cats get to socialize in a cage-free environment while waiting to find their forever person.
Adoption can happen right in the coffee shop. “If someone is ready to adopt, they fill out an application, and I screen shot it over to Kitty Kat Haven,” Kelli says. After discussion and talking with the potential adopter, the application is approved or denied.
It is a new way of looking at the adoption process. Kelli feels the cage-free environment at Gatos and Beans will aid in finding the right connection between a person and a cat. Over the years, Kelli has worked with and made contacts with several rescues including Save Our Strays, Have A Heart, and Kitty Kat Haven. Her expertise in cat rescue and re-homing is unmatched.
Kitty Kat Haven oversees the vet care and supplies like food, litter, and other needs of the cats. “All the feedback we have received from this idea is so positive. There are a large number of cat lovers in this community.”