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The Pawffee Shop Cat Café: A purrfect blend

Cat cuddles accompany every cup of joe at Appleton coffee shop

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September 12, 2022

GRAND CHUTE – For nearly three years, a local coffee shop has given folks the opportunity to pair two loves – caffeine and cats.

The Pawffee Shop Cat Café located on Casaloma Drive in Grand Chute, which opened its doors in fall 2019, is a full-service coffee shop attached to a cat adoption lounge with cats from Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary.

“All the cats are adoptable and people can come in, get a cup of coffee, hang out with the cats and possibly find a forever friend or just hang out if they want a break from their cats at home,” co-owner Leah Enking said. “Or maybe they can’t have cats if they live somewhere where they aren’t allowed or have a spouse that’s allergic, something like that.”

Enking, who owns the café with Elizabeth Feldhausen, the founder of Safe Haven, said ‘cat cafés’ have recently gained popularity throughout the country.

“We had seen other cat cafes in the U.S. and knew it was a concept we wanted to make happen and give Safe Haven another platform to get more cats adopted and be able to save more,” she said. “We did research into them and went to a few of them in Atlanta, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Chicago.”

Enking said her research process was what initially connected her with Feldhausen.

“Elizabeth had Safe Haven set up in De Pere at the time, and she was serving coffee there as well,” she said. “When I was looking up cat cafes, it came up. I went there, hung out and connected with her. I told her what I was trying to do, and it was a natural partnership between the two of us because we both had the same goal.”

All of the cats at the café are adoptable. Nick Lauer Photo

When things began to take shape, Enking said her and Feldhausen identified one area they wanted to approach differently than other cat cafés.

“Most of the ones I’ve been to or follow on social media have a paid entry into the cat lounge,” Enking said. “Here, you are able to enter the cat lounge with your purchase in the café. That’s our money maker – the coffee, the snacks, the merchandise.”

With the menu as the shop’s main profit driver, Enking said they knew they needed items that were not only delicious, but also locally sourced.

“We have coffee from LaJava in Green Bay – everything from brewed coffee to lattes,” she said. “Espresso from Terra Verde in Chilton. For our specialty drinks, we have teas. We have bakery (items) from Monzu Bakery in Green Bay and gluten-free bakery from Mudd Creek in Appleton. We try to keep everything local.”

Enking said though interacting with cats is a huge draw for customers at The Pawffee Shop Cat Café, the coffee shop and the cat lounge are separated, and a love for cats is not a requirement of café visitors.

“We have people that are like, ‘Well, I can’t go there because I’m allergic to cats,’” she said. “It’s in a completely separate room.
We don’t have cats just running around in the café. The HVAC is separate. (We have) separate entrances, so even if you are allergic and don’t like cats and you like coffee, you can still come visit us. You don’t have to go by them.”

Feline interaction 
For those interested in soaking up kitten cuddles, Enking said the cat lounge typically features anywhere from 10-15 cats at a time.

“We offer reservations on Saturdays, only because that’s our busiest day,” she said. “(Reservations are) only $3 per person, and that basically reserves a half hour spot for them. We let in walk-ins as capacity allows.”

Enking said on weekdays, a menu item purchase equals entry into the cat lounge.

She said cats in the lounge vary in age and breed.

“It depends on who we have,” Enking said. “We’ve had anywhere from newborn kittens that people can’t interact with quite yet but can see through the door with mom, to teenage kittens to 12-year-old cats. It ranges depending on who we have at the time. But everyone is adoptable. As they find homes, we bring in more. It’s always changing.”

Like any business, Enking said The Pawffee Shop Cat Café seeks to make a profit, but the main goal is to find loving homes for their four-legged friends.

“We’re at (approximately) 108 adoptions,” she said. “We have ones that are here anywhere from one month to three months to one that we’ve had for more than a year now. It depends on finding the right person for that cat.”

Enking said the café’s mission is to help Safe Haven save more cats.

“Safe Haven tends to lean toward the ones that are at a higher risk of euthanasia or cats that might have special needs, like a special diet or a missing a limb,” she said. “Cats that might not be given quite the same chance in another shelter. We want to be able to save those ones. We’re just a local coffee shop trying to serve you a good cup of coffee and also save cats.”

The coffee shop is open:
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.mSundays and Mondays – closed

The cat lounge hours are:
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (reservations recommended)Sundays and Mondays – closed

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