Grand Rapids cat cafe finds homes for kitties

Happy Cat Cafe
Delilah the cat at The Happy Cat Cafe in Grand Rapids. (Feb. 13, 2018)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Cat cafes are popping up across the U.S., including one in Kalamazoo and another in Grand Rapids.

“You come in and basically play with cats,” Kati Palmurkar, the owner of Happy Cat Café on S. Division Avenue south of Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids, summed up the concept.

Such cafes started in Asia, where people living in small spaces in big cities often don’t have time or room for pets, but still occasionally want to cuddle with a kitty.

“There’s actually four in Michigan now,” Paulmurkar said of cat cafes.

Palmurkar, an animal lover, wanted to own her own business. When she saw the success cat cafes across the country were seeing, she gave it a shot. She charges $10 dollars for an hour hour or $7 for half an hour in a room with 12 cats, and it’s going well.

Her business is about more than just a cup of joe and a cuddle. The goal at Happy Cat is to find forever homes for all the animals.

“Cat cafes give people a chance to have a relaxing environment to meet their next pet. Versus in some shelters, they’re in cages, you can’t see their true personality, they’re not being socialized regularly,” Palmurkur said.

All of the cats come from Carol’s Ferals, which has seen its adoption rate double since starting the partnership with Happy Cat.

“Almost every cat that was here originally is adopted, except for one, who is Delilah,” she added.

There’s a lot of hope for Delilah: 57 cats have been placed since the cafe’s August opening.

Cat cafes have special regulations that differ from community to community. In Grand Rapids, one of them is a powerful ventilation system to maintain animal smells and keep the air fresh.

“This ventilation system actually pulls out air 24 hours a day,” Palmurkur showed 24 Hour News 8.

Happy Cat is a registered animal shelter with the state, zoned as a pet store by the city and its pending food service license is through the Kent County Health Department.

You don’t have to be ready to welcome a cat into your home to be a cat café customer. Students living in dorms or non-pet-friendly apartments or those with family members who are allergic to cats are finding solace in spending an hour with a cat.

“I think Grand Rapids loves cats,” Palmurkur said.