Get ready, St. Pete! Sunshine Kitty Catfe, Tampa Bay’s first cat cafe, will open this fall at 1663 1st Avenue South in Downtown St. Pete.
Never heard of a cat cafe? Not to worry! A typical cat cafe is divided into two sections — a cafe that serves food and drinks and a cat lounge filled with adorable and adoptable cats.
The cat lounge is where the cats live, so to keep the space as low stress as possible, and to make it a pleasant experience for the people visiting, there is usually a limit on the amount of people admitted to the cat lounge per hour. The standard setup is to offer one hour reservations, which are highly recommended.
But before Sunshine Kitty Catfe can open their doors, they need our help! Although they’ve secured a beautiful space in Downtown St Pete, there is still a lot of work to be done. Sunshine Kitty is currently raising money via IndieGoGo to fund major renovations of the space and to assist in acquiring the appropriate permitting and licenses required by the city and state.
If you choose to support the campaign there are a ton of amazing perks such as early admission to the cafe, a three month unlimited membership, a kitty photo shoot, exclusive art, t-shirts, and more. So help out a new local business and donate to their campaign!
So where’d this wild concept begin? The first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998. The craze finally reached U.S. soil in 2014 with the opening of Oakland’s Cat Town in 2014. Currently, there are zero cat cafe’s in Tampa Bay. The nearest is in Clermont, Florida, just outside Orlando.
The St. Pete “catfe” will be housed in a two-story 3,000 square foot building in the Grand Central District, one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods. Three apartment communities and one hotel are currently under construction just steps away from Sunshine Kitty’s future home. Once complete, these four projects will add a total of 700 new residential units and 132 hotel rooms to the district.
Amanda Jones, founder and CE-Meow of Sunshine Kitty Catfe, cannot wait to bring a cat cafe to the streets of Downtown St. Pete. “There’s a lot of city pride here. It’s a different feel than anywhere I’ve lived,” she says. “It’s beautiful, cool and just a unique community that feels good to be a part of.”
The cafe will sell products such as muffins and scones from local bakeries, Made Coffee, Mother Kombucha, teas, beer, and wine. “We absolutely want to support other local businesses. It’s the spirit of St Pete!” says Jones.
On the other side of the building, the cat lounge will be a cozy and inviting paradise for the cats. There will be a lot of vertical features for them to run around on as well as toys and interactive elements that the guests can use to play with them.
And if you develop a strong bond with a cat (or cats), you can adopt them! Local animal shelter Friends of Strays will be providing the cats for Sunshine Kitty and will assist with adoption paperwork. “The ultimate goal is to save more cats and reduce euthanasia,” says Jones.
Exciting events are already in the works for Sunshine Kitty, such as cat yoga, acoustic music performances, comedy night, book clubs, and painting with cats.
Jones is a former veterinary nurse who has always had the desire to help animals. “Animals are always grateful to you no matter what. It’s rewarding in a different way,” she says. So she started thinking of a way she could bridge nursing with animals. And that’s when she started to seriously consider opening a cat cafe in Downtown St. Pete.
Her first experience at a cat cafe came a few years ago when she was still living in Seattle. Jones and her friend decided to check out a cat cafe called Meowtropolitan. “It was the best day ever,” says Jones. “Instant community brought together by this love for cats. We left feeling on cloud nine. Just a peaceful, happy feeling.”
Jones wants Sunshine Kitty Catfe give visitors the same reaction. It will be a place where friends will meet to celebrate a birthday, to work on a homework assignment, or just to relax, surrounded by cats of course.
But in order to build an incredible community gathering space like Sunshine Kitty Catfe, the cats need our help. Please consider donating to Sunshine Kitty Cate’s fundraising campaign. And be sure to follow Sunshine Kitty on Facebook and Instagram for updates.