Cat Café in the works for downtown Raleigh

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Cat Café in the works for downtown Raleigh

A cat-loving couple is planning a café in Raleigh where patrons can sip coffee, interact with cats, and even bring one home.

The owners, Arthur Hailey and Sarah Newton, said the concept of a "cat café" originated overseas, but it's been gaining traction in the U.S., with successful cafes in operation across the nation.

After visiting a few of them, the couple decided Raleigh needed its own cat café and the idea for the Purr Cup Café was born.

"Our favorite is in Philadelphia," Hailey said. "And it was amazing. You get your coffee, you go sit in a room, and the cats just kind of run around and play, and lay with you and snuggle. And you get to know all of them," he said.

The couple hopes that interactions like those will translate into more adoptions. The café will be partnered with Meow House Cat Rescue, a foster-based nonprofit that will provide up to nine adoptable cats.

The cat lounge will be isolated from the area where drinks are served, as state regulations require. But customers will be free to bring their coffee with them to greet the cats.

Although Hailey and Newton hope the café will increase cat adoptions, they also want it to be somewhere for cat lovers to relax and meet new felines. The couple has four cats of their own, but said they enjoy interacting with new cats even if they can't take them home.

"We'd love for everyone who came in to walk out with a cat," Newton said. "But that's not realistic. We want to be there for people who can't adopt for whatever reason... they should be able to get their cat fix," she said.

Purr Cup Cafe has a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. At last check, the page had raised $4,746. But since that's only 16 percent of the goal, the couple will be pursuing other forms of funding, such as grants and loans, to make the project a reality. They hope to open the café by spring of next year.

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