By Kylee Toland
Let’s face it: nowadays, if a business features some sort of furry-faced, wide-eyed critter as part of its brand, heads will most likely turn and money will most likely be spent. A prime example of this is the current popularity of cat cafes.
According to meowaround.com, there are currently 141 cat cafes in the United States, with the first American cafe opening in 2014. Most of these cafes offer a similar goal: visit a peaceful environment to enjoy a meal or drink while playing with adoptable felines. If a person becomes attached to one of the cats, they can adopt it, thus a happy ending for everyone involved.
Northern Virginia is no stranger to cat cafes, as there are 3 currently-open cafes that are all about 30 minutes away from interested Falls Church locals. Patriot Pawsabilities, Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar and Meows Corner Cat Cafe and Lounge offer feline enthusiasts and/or the average animal lover a cuddly experience.
Monique “Mo” Ryan is the owner of Patriot Pawsabilities, a cat lounge located on the backside of University Mall in Fairfax. Describing herself as an “animal lover,” Ryan said she was inspired to open her own “cat cafe” after retiring from the Army and visiting a cat cafe in Korea.
“Once I thought of [opening a cat cafe],” Ryan said, “I was like ‘This is something I could do.’”
When first walking into Patriot Pawsabilities, people are instantly greeted with the sound of small meows and the flash of a small kitten coming toward them to receive a pet or two. Described as a “bright and colorful space” on their website, Pawsabilities allows people to come and play with over 50 cats while studying or just hanging out, as well as offering them a chance to adopt a furry friend.
Although not technically a “cafe” as it does not serve food or drinks, customers are allowed to bring their own food and drinks while only paying $15 an hour (student and military discounts are offered) for a memorable visit.
Most of the cats at Pawsabilities are from kill shelters, with Ryan describing herself as a “road guard” for the cats, as she “makes sure that cats that need a home go from [Patriot Pawsabilities] to their forever home.” Since its opening in 2019, 513 cats have been adopted, with Ryan saying customers will initially come in “not looking” to adopt, but later on ask “what is the adoption process? To learn more about about Patriot Pawsabilities, visit patriotpawsabilities.com.
In Alexandria, Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar offers “a space where you can make yourself comfortable and have fun, while helping adoptable rescue cats.” Customers can enjoy meals such as sandwiches, salads and cookies or a drink such as wine, beer and tea while cuddling with cats. Adam Patterson, the co-owner of Mount Purrnon, said he and fellow co-owner Kristin Cowan were inspired to open the business after visiting a cat cafe in Charleston, South Carolina. Patterson said Cowan wanted to “combine” her love of “cats, wine and history.”
Opening in August of 2020 during the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic, Patterson said the first six months after the opening were “brutal,” but the business “took off” after February of 2021. Since August 1st of 2020, Mount Purrnon has seen 403 adoptions and an expectation to hit 500 “by December.” Similar to Patriot Pawsabilities, the cats at Mount Purrnon are originally from kill shelters, with Patterson saying the company adopts the cats out of those shelters “as quick as they can” with their goal being to “adopt out as many cats as we can” to interested customers.
Patterson said customers vary depending on the season, as he described that in the early parts of the year they see “over 100 customers” on a Saturday but “very few” customers “on the weekdays.” Summer brings the opposite, with Patterson saying that “Saturday’s actually [have] gone down but the weekdays have gone way up.” As for the cats who inhabit the cafe, Patterson said the median time for adoption is 19 days since they first got to Mount Purrnon, with the return rate of a cat after adoption only being “about 4 percent.”
“From what I understand, that’s pretty good,” Patterson said. “96 out of 100 times, people are happy.”
To learn more about Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar, visit mtpurrnoncatcafe.com.
Meows Corner, a cat lounge in Sterling, gives customers “the chance to play, relax, and interact with adoptable cats.”
Partnering with 4PawsRescue, the lounge has seen 240 cats adopted since its opening in July of 2019. Sharon Lawrie, the 4Paws coordinator for Meows Corner, said founder Dina Abdel-Hamid created Meows Corner after seeing a cat cafe in North Carolina and was “intrigued” to try it out herself.
Interested customers can “sit, relax and have a drink” while playing with the kittens, or watch other patrons play with the cats as well.
As for the mission of Meows Corner, Lawrie said Abdel-Hamid “wanted somewhere for people that for whatever reason couldn’t have a cat in their home,” such as for health reasons, as well as “getting cats exposed to potential adopters.” To learn more about Meows Corner, visit meowscorner.com.