Good Mews!

Cafe Meow Opens with a fully booked weekend.

Franki Hanke, Senior Reporter

Minneapolis’ newest addition is half feline hangout and half coffeehouse. Last weekend, on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, Cafe Meow opened as the first cat cafe in Minnesota.


Danielle Rasmussen and Jessica Burge are the minds behind the new space, which has been in the works since 2014. Burge first heard about a  temporary pop-up cafe that opened in New York City combining America’s two greatest loves, cats and coffee.


Following the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival, Rasmussen and Burge started to delve into the research behind starting a new business. In 2015, they ran a Kickstarter campaign to generate the attention and market for the cafe, but it wasn’t until last weekend that the doors officially opened.


“We’re very excited this is all happening,” Burge said.


Over the course of the weekend, all the pre-reserved time slots were filled by 120 daily visitors for the ten pre-filled slots for an hour each in the cat room. Additional walk-in visitors totaled as high as 600 people for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


Every visitor that enters  the cat room itself is charged a $10 fee for an hour-long visit with the felines. That fee goes to operation costs of upkeeping the cats.


“We buy food and litter, a lot of both those things,” Rasmussen said.


The money also goes to paying Cafe Meow’s employees.


“They are the ones who make this work.”


Besides employees, the cafe is also made possible by several partnerships with food providers, rescue organizations and Flannery Construction.


Prior to the grand opening, there was a lot of talk to build a space that would be optimal for the cats.


“We talked to a lot of cat people,” Rasmussen said.


That space came together with a lot of wall structures to give the cats breathing space from  the visitors, along with space to escape and hide if they are ever overwhelmed or need a nap.


In choosing where to source food, there were two key requirements: small and local. Those partners were found in Bootstrap Coffee Roasters, Northern Lights Tea Company and My Sister Sweets.


The shelter partners too were carefully selected.


“They meet our values of caring about the community and the cats,” Burge said.


These organizations do that in part by requiring a home visit as part of their adoption process, ensuring with certainty that every adopted pet is going to a good, safe place.


From those rescue organizations, 13 cats have moved to Cafe Meow to provide companionship with a cup of coffee.


The cats too, who have already settled into their space, were excited for their new visitors.


“Meow,” Tinkerbell, calico queen of Cafe Meow, said. “Meow. Meow. Meow!”


For anyone who missed the opening, the best bet is to reserve a space online far in advance. Right now, the waiting list extends into early April.


Burge and Rasmussen wanted to stress for first time visitors that they aren’t invited to bring their own cats to the cafe. They do, however, encourage anyone to bring a new friend home by pursuing an adoption.