Virginia cafe owners want community to socialize with cats | Ap


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — What do cats, coffee and community all have in common?

They’re all essential parts of a new business coming to Newport News this summer.

Cups and Claws Café will offer a chance to socialize with adoptable cats while drinking a cup of coffee and munching on baked goods. The owners want the café to be a place where the community can come to read, work, relax, create and play.

“Our vision is more like a community center for adoptable cats and people,” co-owner Kim Zettel said.

The café will function as a foster home for about 20 cats from local shelters and rescues, giving the cats regular socialization and the chance to find their forever homes.

“When you go into the shelters or rescues you might not see the (cat’s) personality shine,” Zettel said. “A lot of people go to shelters and adopt animals, only to realize that’s not the kind of cat they want. This will give potential adopters the chance to see what (the cats) look like in real time.”

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Cat decorations line the walls of Cups and Claws Café Friday afternoon July 1, 2022. (Jonathon Gruenke/Daily Press)

She said there’s a big problem in Newport News with people dumping cats on the side of the road or returning them to shelters because the pet isn’t what they were looking for.

Zettel, a retired teacher, along with her husband and co-owner Philip Zettel, have been fostering cats and dogs from local animal shelters for years — they fostered more than 60 animals in 2021.

The idea for the café came from Philip Zettel, a 26-year Navy veteran and senior chief petty officer, joking that they should do something with “all of these darn cats.”

Visitors will have the option to just stop by for coffee or baked goods without visiting the cats, which will be housed in a separate room. Entry into the cat room will require a waiver and fee and includes coffee. The money from adoption fees for any cats adopted from the cafe will go back to the rescues.

The cat visiting room will have seating and several places for cats to lay and play. The room is equipped with a cat wall for climbing, cat trees and a catwalk hanging from the ceiling. The cats will also have a separate space to eat, use the litterbox and take a break from people when they need it.

In addition to caring for the cats, Kim Zettel wants to prioritize the community by providing activities for people of all ages.

She’s working to build partnerships with local entities such as the library to offer children a chance to come read to the cats. Zettel is also planning to offer painting and yoga classes with the cats at the café.

“Newport News is very underserved with places for the older community,” Zettel said. “You don’t really have many places where the elderly community can come and just relax and enjoy themselves.”

Kim and Philip Zettel sit with cat, Louie, inside Cups and Claws Café Friday afternoon July 1, 2022. (Jonathon Gruenke/Daily Press)

She’s hoping the café will also draw college students and military members and their families who might feel lonely or be looking for a way to relieve stress.

“It’s really helpful to the animals — not just the people,” Zettel said. “There’s a duality in purpose.”

The café, which is located at 11006 Warwick Blvd, Suite 458, is slated to open in late July or early August, depending on permits.

“This isn’t just for cat lovers,” Zettel said. “It’s a place for people who want a unique experience.”

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