DOYLESTOWN >> A relaxing purr and a cup of coffee are the order of the day at Bucks County’s first and only cat cafe now open in Doylestown.
The brand new MeWow Cat Café, located inside a small strip shopping center at 3617 Old Easton Road just east of Route 313, is part coffee shop and part "cat room," where fans of felines can relax in the company of furry, four-legged friends while letting the stress of the day melt away.
“I thought people really needed this,” said owner Eilene Shaffer of Jamison. “Everything today is so stressful and fast-paced. Here, you can take 30 minutes and just relax, smile and enjoy yourself in the company of kitties.”
Shaffer, a former substitute teacher at the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, set out three years ago to bring Bucks County its first cat cafe after her daughter, Karla, suggested the idea.
“She said to me, 'Why don’t you open a cat cafe,'” said Shaffer. “At the time I had no idea what a cat cafe was, but on further examination, I liked it.”
What mom didn’t know at the time was how challenging it would be to find the right location that would adequately serve the needs of the cafe and its customers.
After 13 failed leases and an abundance of doors being shut in her face, Shaffer finally found a home in Buckingham Township, which opened its arms to the idea and worked with her to make it happen.
“This was not an easy venture,” said Shaffer, giving “incredible kudos” to Buckingham for thinking outside the box when it came to issues like parking, which had been a stumbling block in making the cafe happen. “This would not be here without Buckingham Township and Cross Keys Development, which gave us a chance.
“So here it is. MeWow,” said Shaffer. “A place created to relax, have coffee and delectable desserts and cuddle with cats. I call this my happy place.”
The cafe is separated into two distinct rooms - the cafe and the Kitty Corral.
Inside the cafe, customers can shop for cat-related merchandise and enjoy a 'purrfect' mix of locally-sourced cupcakes, cookies, desserts, Valerio coffee and tea, all while watching the cats play inside the corral.
Or they can enter the Kitty Corral where customers pay a small cover charge to experience first-hand kitties having a ball jumping, running, playing and taking cat naps.
“People who like cats already know this place exists,” said Shaffer. “People keep asking, 'When are you opening? When are you opening?' And then their next question is, 'When are you opening another one?' The excitement level is through the roof.”
Two days before the opening, Shaffer and her children, Jonathan and Karla, were busy giving members of the press a preview of what customers can expect inside the Kitty Corral where eight active kittens were chasing each other around the room.
Sitting on the floor inside the corral, Shaffer was surrounded by kittens scampering and playing. One of them, obviously tuckered out by all the extra attention, found a peaceful spot on Shaffer’s lap to fall asleep.
“I love this,” she said as she gently stroked the fur of the sleeping feline. “These guys can be rambunctious and playful. And then they can be super quiet and sleeping in your lap. There’s just a happy factor. I mean, how can you not smile watching them run around and playing?
“I want to see everyone who enters this room happy, our cats get great homes and our customers have a great experience,” said Shaffer. “That’s my motivation.”
Through a partnership with the Bucks County SPCA and the nonprofit rescue group, Kitty Junction, Shaffer said all the kittens and cats living at the cafe will be available for adoption.
“If you’re thinking of adopting one of our kitties, it makes sense to go into the Kitty Corral and spend time with the cats to see who you bond with and who bonds with you!” said Shaffer.
But there’s no obligation to take a cat home, said Shaffer.
“The cats in the café are cared for and kept happy until they are adopted and find their fur-ever home,” said Shaffer. In the meantime they are there for the customers to enjoy and experience.
“As cats are adopted, partner organizations will bring more cats so there are always plenty of cats to visit, watch and adopt,” adds Shaffer. “For the humans, the cafe offers desserts, coffee and tea – and most of all, a refuge for cat lovers in a stressful, fast-paced world,” she adds.
The SPCA calls the new cafe “a dream come true” for the kittens and cats of Bucks County.
“We have two facilities serving Bucks County, but some people are reluctant to go to a shelter,” said Natalie DiGiacomo, the director of community outreach for the Bucks County SPCA. “We see this as a great opportunity to get cats out into the community and make it easier to find them homes.
“We do have a few off-site places like PetSmart, but nothing like this where you can hang out with the cats and spend time with them. This is just taking it to the next level. And we are always game to find new ways to help cats and animals in our community.”
Plus, being a cat lover herself, DiGiacomo said she loves the idea of a place that celebrates cats. “Cats need a lot of support in this county and this cafe is focused all on them and they deserve it.”
The SPCA and the nonprofit rescue group, Kitty Junction, will be supplying the adoptable kittens and cats for the new cafe.
“If someone falls in love, there’s just a quick form they fill out and we take it from there,” said DiGiacomo. “Usually they can have the cat in their home in 48 hours.”
According to DiGiacomo, there continues to be a great need in Bucks County to find homes for cats and kittens.
“We want every animal to find a home, but we need a little extra help with cats because we have more of them,” said DiGiacomo.
“She’s actually nervous with the numbers of cats adopted out of a cat cafe, which is usually 35 to 40 a month,” said Shaffer. “It’s wonderful for placing because people get to experience and interact with them. They can see the personality.”
Entrance fees for Kitty Corral visitation are $10 for one hour or $6 for a half hour, which helps defray the costs of housing the kitties. Cat lovers are encouraged to make reservations online to visit the Kitty Corral (where the cats live).
Children under the age of five will not be permitted inside the Kitty Corral. And children older than five must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
For the first few weeks, Shaffer said the cafe will be limiting visitations to 30 minutes per customer to accommodate an expected heavy turnout of cat lovers.
To learn more about MeWow Cat Café, visit www.mewow.cafe or call 267-247-5303. The cafe is located at 3617 Old Easton Road, Doylestown. Hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 9 p.m. After Labor Day, the cafe will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. and 3 to 8 p.m. The cafe is closed on Mondays.
About the Bucks County SPCA
Bucks SPCA is a private non-profit serving Bucks County since 1912 and assists animals in need and prevents suffering through rescue, rehoming, cruelty investigation and prosecution, and community outreach.To learn more, go to www.bcspca.org
About Kitty Junction:
Kitty Junction is an all-volunteer nonprofit rescue group that was established by a group of animal lovers experienced in animal rescue. They are dedicated to saving the lives of abandoned, abused and homeless cats/kittens. To learn more, go towww.kittyjunction.org