Richmond Welcomes Its First Cat Café
Cats and coffee: a classic combination
Cat lovers, rejoice. Richmond’s first cat café – yes, you read that correctly – has just launched. Check out your new haven for meeting fellow cat lovers, adopting a new kitty or just picking up enough cat fur to make your feline children jealous.
Central Purrk is the brainchild of Richmond residents Angela and Jeff Sidener. Years ago, while living in the West End, they observed an overpopulation of cats in the apartment building across the street, followed one day by dozens of felines carted off by animal control. Angela Sidener recalls how devastated she felt, but it motivated the animal-loving couple to take action.
And after visiting a cat café in Washington, D.C., Angela Sidener recalls, they were struck by “how happy we felt.” They enjoyed the communal aspect of being around fellow cat people, seeing their pictures and hearing their stories.
And so it began. The cat café had been such a positive experience, they “just decided that Richmond really needed that,” says Angela.
Once the timing fell into place, they found an adjoining set of businesses in Shockoe Bottom, right next to the 17th Street Farmers Market. They wanted to make the spot an enjoyable place for cat-lovers to convene but also to help stray cats find a welcoming home. “Knowing we could help made a big difference,” Angela says.
The business launched officially this summer.
Before you start to worry about fur in your cappuccino, this cat café isn’t quite like the pictures of ones you’ve seen in Japan. The cat lounge and coffee shop are two separate businesses side by side: Zoomies (to satiate your cat-related needs) and Central Purrk (to satiate your caff-related needs). Customers can bring coffee to the cat side, but no cats to the coffee side.
All of the cats are brought in from Richardsons Rescue (RichardsonsRescueRVA.org). Each kitty has been through foster care, contains up-to-date-shots and is ready for a permanent home.
But they’re also available for mere grins and giggles. Customers can drop in and, for a small entrance fee, play with the cats for up to an hour. It’s the ideal cat-fix for a homesick college student, cat-loving commitment-phobe or individual whose roommate or spouse has a cat allergy.
Though it’s a new concept for the area, Sidener says the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Her business helps people see and interact with adoptable cats in a natural environment rather than in a shelter.
“It’s a happier place where you know [the cats] are getting attention,” Angela says, “that they’re going to get adopted.”
Visit the cats and coffee at 1704 & 1706 E. Main St., or visit virtually at ZoomiesLounge.com.