The Blue Cat Cafe, Austin’s first cat cafe, now has its Kickstarter up and running. Helmed by Rebecca Gray, the feline mastermind aims to bring cats, people, and coffee together within the cafe. The name stems from her love of blue cats, which tend to be friendly and affectionate. She currently has a blue cat named Max.
Gray is looking to raise $60,000, and that money will go towards renting a space, building it out, insurance, and permits. The more money donated means the closer to downtown the cafe can be, or as she calls it, "vote with your dollars."
Once open, there will be vegan food trucks, lattes, and of course plenty of time for guests to play with rescue cats. There are also plans for Caturday events, like kitty yoga, kitty singles date night, and DIY art classes. Eater Austin spoke to Gray earlier this month about what inspired her to start the cafe, her love of cats, and how she'll keep Austin weird.
What motivated you to want to start your own cat cafe?
I have always wanted to, since I saw cat cafes in a blog a few years ago. I just didn’t think it was possible. I heard about [her Uber passengers] coming and opening the first cat cafe in Montreal. That, and Cat Town in Oakland, and a few others were beginning to take root. "This is the time." That’s when I decided to try to start a little splash page website, get the word out, and started pushing for it in October.
What is the idea behind the cat cafe?
A place that is a cafe-like setting where there’s cats, probably a few dozen. I’m working with a few rescue shelters to bring in those cats. You can come, pet cats, and then drink and eat on the back patio where there’s food trucks.
What will the structure be like?
It will be walk-in or by appointment, but I’m sure that we’ll have spots open. There’ll be a ratio of people to cats. I’ll have a place to reserve a kitty petting time. You’re free to do that online, but we’ll probably have spots open and you can walk in.
We’ll have [the cats become] accustomed to each other. Every time a new cat comes in, there’s a whole process to it. I’m working with other cat cafes and exploring how to do that.
When you enter the place, you’re going to get prepped. You’re going to be told how to handle a cat. There’ll be cat therapists inside the cat therapy zone [what she calls the inside of the cafe]. They’ll be helping with educating and all of that.
Would people be able to adopt the cats?
The idea is not like you have to go there and adopt a cat. The idea is that if you don’t have a cat, or...I know tons of people who are too busy because they’re students or they’re traveling, working, and they can’t be at home that much. They can’t have the reward of petting a cat, right? This concept is like you can come, you pet a cat, you can surf the Internet, and do all the things you do at a cafe with cats. If you fall in love with a cat and you can take him in, of course. We would love that and we’ll have that process available through the rescue that that cat comes from.
Do you have a place in mind?
I do, I’m working with a realtor right now, and we’re scoping out a few places.
What kind of food will you serve?
It only makes sense if our core is animal love, and getting and receiving that, then just going to go vegan and not eat animals. There’s so much stigma behind that, going vegan and vegans blah blah, but this will be really tasty food.
Do you have cats?
Of course. I’m a cat lady. I’ve always been a cat lady. I’ve always had cats.
Besides the Kickstarter, what else are you in the process of doing right now?
Another thing I am passionate about is small business, and representing and buying locally. All of our consignment, our coffee, all of our food, will come from local Austin businesses so. Nothing you can buy at Walmart will be in the cat cafe, because that’s the true definition of keeping Austin weird: supporting your local businesses because it’s really really difficult to start up.