Welcome to the IndieGoGo Campaign for the Cat Town Cafe & Adoption Center! This project is a collaboration between Cat Town founder Ann Dunn, and Adam Myatt [aka the Cat Man of West Oakland, founder of Hoodcats] who had both read about the mythical Cat Cafes of Japan, and thought that the Bay Area, particularly Oakland, would be a great home for this fun and very odd idea. Our goal is to provide a fun and social environment for adoptable cats (and people), while relieving some pressure and freeing up some much needed space at Oakland Animal Services (Oakland’s municipal animal shelter) and bringing a brand new experience to the people of Oakland, and the rest of the Bay Area.
One of the latest Cat Town cats, "Reddick" going from OAS to a foster home.
Cat Town is a non-profit cat rescue organization that specializes in finding great homes for cats who would otherwise be euthanized at the shelter because they are scared there. Since Cat Town's founding in 2011, it's been a goal of Ann's to open a Cat Sanctuary here in Oakland, and now with this new partnership, the time is right! Between Ann, and the other amazing volunteers at Cat Town and OAS, we'll make sure we get the right cats for this playful and very social environment. We've got lots of great ideas and plans, and with your help, they'll become a reality!
Here's Mr.Moo, hiding in his litter box at OAS. Then Mr.Moo again with his new human companion Lauri, who adopted him through Cat Town!
Opening a business like this will come with a lot of challenges, here's what we feel are our top three, and how we're preparing for them!
1. Space/Rent - As you know, the Bay Area is not a cheap place to live in or open a business, especially one as specialized as this. Luckily, we've been able to partner with Bay Area retailer, Pet Food Express, who are willing to help us finance the part of the project that involves cat adoptions! They've got several different adoption centers and donate to rescue groups all across the Bay Area. However, they've never dealt in human food before, which is where YOU come in. We've got the main backing to keep a roof over our animal's heads and food in their bellies, but we need funding to make a comfortable cafe environment for both our cats, and cat-loving-people. Having a company as established as Pet Food Express in our corner will definitely aid in the speed of finding our home.
2. Health codes/zoning - We've met with and showed our initial rough draft plans to the Alameda County Health Department & City Of Oakland’s Zoning Department, and have shown them that we (a.) won't be doing any food preparation on site. We'll have a limited coffee/tea/cold drink selection, and will be bringing in pastries/bagels/snacks from outside vendors; and, (b.) there will be strict separation between the cafe side of things and the Cat Zone. As you can see in our rough design, there will be a hand sanitation station between the two spaces, as well as separate bathrooms and cleaning areas for the cafe and a separate cat-litter-box-room. Below is a top down look at an initial design, to give an idea of what our layout will potentially be.
3. What it takes to run a Cat Cafe - Running a Cat Cafe isn't quite the same as running a normal Cafe, so in March, the Cat Man goes to Japan! Adam will be taking a trip across the sea to go check out first-hand how some of the original Cat Cafes are owned and operated, as well as visit the two feral Cat-Islands on the eastern and western sides of the country. There, he'll talk to shop owners about the ups and downs of running a Cat Cafe, and hopefully pick up some tips and design ideas to bring back here to the states. He'll be documenting the trip all along the way (with video, photo, and blog posts), and compiling a photo-book, that you'll be able to choose as a reward!
Feel free to send us any questions you've got to firstname.lastname@example.org, we'll be updating this space as we receive more questions.
- Q. What's a Cat Cafe, and where are they? A. Cat Cafes are places where people go to hang out, have a drink, and of course, observe and play with cats! The first Cat Cafe started in Taiwan, and they are quickly spreading all over the world. Japan probably has the most Cat Cafes in operation right now, with cafes popping up in Germany, Hungary, Spain, Paris, London, and now the USA! There have been several attempts to bring Cat Cafes to the US, and we feel between our partnerships with Pet Food Express, Oakland Animal Services, and YOU, we'll put Oakland on the map as the first Cat Cafe in the USA!
- Q: Are the cats adoptable? A: Yes! All Cat Town Cafe cats will be adoptable, the cafe is sort of a fun buffer space and socializing zone for the cats. We'll be posting updates to our blog when cats get adopted, and as new cats are brought into the cafe. Every adoption means we can get another cat out of the shelter!
- Q: Where will your cafe be? A: We're currently looking into spaces between North Oakland, Piedmont, Uptown, and Jack London Square.
- Q: Will it cost money to go in? A: No, we won't be charging to hang out in our cafe, we will, however, be implementing a time limit (and have a suggested-donation-station). We'll be using a guest-pager system/app to enforce this, sorta like when you go to a crowded restaurant and have to check in to wait for a table. You can hang out in the cat-free side of the cafe while you wait, or go run errands and we'll notify you as it becomes your turn to visit the cats.
- Q: What will the time limit be? A: During what we're considering will be peak hours (most nights & weekends), it will be between 60-90 minutes. During non-peak hours, it will be 90 - 120 minutes. We want the space to be a comfortable place for people to come and spend a bit of time, and don't want to have so many people coming in and out that it overwhelms our cats.
- Q: How many cats will you have, and where will they be from? A: We anticipate having a rotating group of 6 - 12 cats (mostly depending on the final size of the space. We'll be working with cat behaviorists to make sure whatever we do is great for the cats). All of our cats will come from Oakland Animal Services (OAS), Oakland's city shelter. Cat Town has an existing partnership with OAS and already gets all its cats from there. We'll be working with a small staff to run the cafe, and a group of volunteers to keep patrons and the cats company during regular business hours.
- Q: Will there be cages? A: Absolutely not! Cat Town's mission is to get cats out of cages. The Cat Town Cafe is meant to be an open, fun, and safe space for them.
- Q: What will your hours be? A: This is yet to be determined, but we'r e anticipating somewhere between 10 or 11am to 8pm
- Q: What if you don't get your funding? A: Regardless of where we end up with our funding, we'll still be able to make the Cat Town Cafe happen! We've secured some extra funding via Cat Towns partnership with Maddie's Fund, who gives grant money to Cat Town for every cat they get adopted. While Cat Town uses the majority of that money on the cats they care for, we're setting a little aside to build up a little financial safety net.
- Q: I want to volunteer! How can I help? A: We'd love to talk to you! Please drop us a line at email@example.com