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Must Love Cats: An afternoon at Pounce Cat Cafe

Hospitality and Tourism
Jenny Peterson
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See how many cats you can find in this photo of Pounce Cat Cafe in downtown Charleston. (Photo/Jessica Stout)

We paid $15 — more than a movie at a theater — for one beverage and one hour.

We also got specific instructions: “Some of them just got spayed and neutered, so be careful when touching their bellies.”

With that, my co-worker Jessica and I opened a little swinging gate and entered Pounce Cat Cafe, a cat-adoption coffee shop, which opened in November at 283 Meeting St. in downtown Charleston.

We had booked a reservation online for 1 p.m. on Valentine’s Day to cuddle warm, fuzzy things in the middle of the workday. We had one hour. We were going in.

Almost immediately, we were overcome by all things cat: free-roaming felines of all sizes and colors, shiny toys overflowing in countless baskets, cat books strewn about on the cafe tables. We were even overcome a little by the smell of a litterbox.

Like I said, to enjoy this place, you must actually love cats.

We were told there were 20 adoptable cats in the room, which was roughly the size of a Starbucks coffee shop.

The actual coffee bar is in the back area, completely sealed off by glass, and glass doors, that the adoptable cats can see into but cannot enter.

But wait... back to the subject. ... were there really 20 cats in this room?

We only saw about four in plain sight.

And then I realized that cats are very good at hiding.

Almost like an “I Spy,” game, among the chic decorations, we noticed cats hidden under chairs, on shelves, curled up inside baskets, sleeping on fuzzy pillows and blankets, soft couches and tall perches.

One ambitious calico spent the hour attempting to climb the exposed brick wall to get to a wooden ceiling beam. The feat was physically impossible, but Roxy’s effort and determination were admirable.

Each cat was wearing a paper collar with its name written on it. The knowledgeable staff member described each’s one age and temperament.

This is a place where cats are indeed cats; if you’re on the fence about adopting one, you can see what they’re like in real life.

The cats live, eat and sleep in the cafe and are never crated or caged. It’s like a trial run.

Some were shy, some were loud. Some were bored with the numerous cat toys, others literally rolled around in catnip.

We were encouraged to pet, brush and play with these cats as much as they wanted for the full hour.

Pounce Cat Cafe exists to encourage patrons to adopt the cats, which come from the Charleston Animal Society. Adoption applications are available at the cafe.

Two cats — a Siamese who slept in a sun patch near a window for the entire hour, and a light grey cat that didn’t leave the bottom shelf of a cubby — had already been adopted.

A young couple filled out an application during our visit for a shy Russian Blue.

A chalkboard sign on the wall proclaimed that over 100 cats had been adopted since the cafe’s opening.

With your reservation at Pounce Cat Cafe, you get a complimentary glass of wine, champagne or beer, or a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. There are also pastries available for purchase.

Here, however, you don’t sit at a table and catch up with anyone; in fact, you’ll likely leave your beverage haphazardly on a table while you use both hands to play with the animals.

The cat cafe is an experience like no other. It’s a cat petting zoo. Some purred, some hissed at each other. Some went crazy for the laser pointer. Others couldn’t be bothered to wake up from their naps.

They didn’t run up to you like puppies would. They’re cats.

And you must love them.

Contact Jenny Peterson at 843-849-3145.

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