11/4/2019 0 Comments
*Part of Bean’s Coffee Shop Challenge - series*
Have you heard of the newest craze? Cat Cafes? They’re popping up all over the place. And as both a coffee lover and animal lover, they have really peaked my curiosity… You come for the coffee, and you stay for the cats.
I knew such places existed, and being an artist who paints daily, I even heard of cat cafes where you can have coffee, pet kitties, and paint at the same time! How freaking cool! But only recently did I find out that Jax Beach has its very own cat cafe - The Caffeinated Cat. Recently opened in August, I had read an article about it and was very intrigued by the concept. I had heard of such cafes in large cities like Orlando, and Chicago, but never one so close to home.
I needed to go check the place out for myself. And after my experience there, I’d like to share my impressions, my opinions on some aspects that really may need to be worked upon, and what I believe is quite noble about the concept. So here’s specifically my take on the good, the not-so-good, and the noble cause of The Caffeinated Cat:
The cats are from Mayport Cats, and they need to find their forever homes. Run by both employee and volunteer, the cats are fed and seemingly well cared for by staff, and get to be cuddled and petted throughout the day by caffeinated and coffee-sipping customers. The Caffeinated Cat serves coffee, wine, and snacks. And there is a small room in the back that sells merchandise such as tees and cat toys.
There's plenty of outdoor seating on a large wooden patio deck with chairs, benches, and umbrellas. And then once inside, there’s a bar style seating area overlooking a large window into the cat room. The cats are all safely secure inside this second room. This allows for them to roam free comfortably, without staff worrying that they might escape each time someone enters or exits the Cafe.
I believe the main goal of the concept and facility is to help in establishing the human - animal connection. As a very passionate animal lover myself, I was very excited about my impending visit there. Some or most of the cats have special needs on top of also needing to find their forever homes. And when we walked in, the barista was tending to an injured feline at the time as well. And there were quite a few cats in the cat room - many more than I imagined they would have actually.
We came about 1-1:30 in the afternoon. Their hours on Saturday are 10am-8pm. When we were in the cat room, nearly every single one of the cats was sleeping, trying to sleep, or already in a very, very deep sleep. They were all really very tired precious little kitties. I had said as much and one of the staff members mentioned to me that the kitties had already had a very busy morning. A morning of pets and cuddles I’m certain. I can only hope that busy mornings helps transpire into adoptions for the furry creatures.
I ordered the Calico Cappuccino, and my hubby ordered the Persian Latte. We were given our drinks with felt/reusable sleeves; a neat concept to help reduce waste. And when you leave you drop the sleeve in a recycle bin for continued use.
We also took a punch card with nine circles. You need to purchase eight punches worth (eight drinks) and then the ninth drink is free - representing, of course, the nine lives of cats.
The cats had no place to “escape” to. I had a cat for fifteen years. I’ve seen all kinds of cats at homes, shelters, and outside. I’ve been attacked by a cat (a cat I know personally) who ate away at my legs and I then needed a doctor’s visit and antibiotics to prevent disease and infection from setting in. I know from very personal experiences that cats need to feel they have an escape route. They are very sensitive and have strong personalities. They may like cuddles, and they definitely may not. Either way, they need to feel like they have a secure place to go.
There were many, many cats in the cat room. They had little nooks and crannies that they claimed as their own space, but there was no escape for them. If one needed to run away and hide in a corner, there really was no dark corner to hide in. No ‘cat door’ into another room for some privacy. Sure there were toys and tunnels and such, but just thinking back to my own cat in the past, if she felt like she needed her alone time she ran away to the upstairs or the basement where no one bothered her. These cats didn’t have such an escape room at all. And with visitors not possibly knowing their personality in advance, I could definitely see potential visitors needing a doctors visit and antibiotics just like me if something went even slightly wrong for a kitty.
Plus, the hours of operation: Being a coffee shop, they don’t open even one day per week prior to ten am. Most people drink their coffee in the mornings, or right when they wake. The Caffeinated Cat not opening til mid-morning, and on Tuesday’s only being open from 2-7pm - I can foresee the coffee part of the experience not being too enticing for some.
Also, the lack of cleanliness and sanitation was a major factor in my impression that this place needs a lot of work to continue operating and lasting as a mix of both adoptions as well as coffee shop.
When entering, there is a very “dirty” smell. Obviously, many, many kitties living together and sharing litter boxes can create a stench. And it was most definitely a stench, not just a smell. I recommend ventilation. There was none. Fans, whether portable or just some kind of open window even, was desperately needed.
It was small, and very quiet inside. A radio, television, or music on a portable speaker would help add to the “coffee shop” atmosphere, in the area outside of the cat room at a minimum.
And…. the nitty gritty of the sanitation issues… The same person who was tending to an injured kitty when we walked in, happened to then be the same person who rang up our order, made both of our drinks, then went back into the cat room, no hand washing or sanitation at any time during that interaction.
I also happened to ask for a lid so I wouldn’t spill or mix it any more than necessary with the kitties, and that same individual had to then play around with the lids (still no hand washing) to make it fit on the cup. She explained the lids do not fit properly and have to be played around with to work correctly. Without hand-washing between animal and human food interactions, I see major potential for disease and/or food poisoning happening here. After I was served my drink, I desperately tried to swallow a few sips, purely as part of my coffee shop challenge, and it was at that point it became undrinkable to me. I did try it though.
THE NOBLE CAUSE:
I came here to check the place out. I came here knowing cats need their own space. I came here knowing there are an infinite number of God’s precious little innocent and defenseless creatures needing a forever home to go to. I wanted to try to support a local business and organization that really is doing a very, very noble thing by trying to help people become aware of adoption, and get kitties placed into homes. Plus, the kitties are not stuck in cages while awaiting their futures.
The Caffeinated Cat has fabulous potential as an interesting and unique concept. It just needs some work. In the meantime, lots of kitties need lots of forever homes and The Caffeinated Cat in Jax Beach is trying to do its part in helping out some very fabulous felines.
And while the coffee was definitely not the best I’ve ever had - it was machine coffee and really nothing special at all - I didn’t really go there expecting to be served the fanciest drink in the world - I came there to cuddle with kitties. And to help spread the world that there are so very many little creatures in this world that need a loving home. ~
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