Louisville’s First Cat Café
By Kris Ritcher
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
Things were already bustling at Purrfect Day Café, Louisville’s first cat café and adoption lounge, early on the morning of the grand opening last week. Owner Chuck Patton was all smiles – and why wouldn’t he be? He shares his workspace with 18 to 20 kittens, all of whom are full of boundless energy to play and explore or just as happy to curl up on a lap to nap the day away.
As a cat enthusiast myself, I was thrilled to catch up with Patton to learn about his vision for the café and spend some time in his room full of fur-babies.
The kittens who reside at Purrfect Day Café all come from the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS). All are “fixed” and microchipped and up to date on shots before they arrive to Patton and his team. His partnership with KHS not only helps streamline the adoption process but allows for consistent, continued care of the kittens and an additional donation source for KHS. Representatives from the nonprofit visit the café every day to bring food and supplies, oversee care and health needs and backfill any vacancies left by recent adoptions. All adoption fees go to KHS, and on the first Monday of each month, the café donates visitation fees to KHS as well. As of the grand opening, Patton says the café has already raised $2,800 for KHS.
These days, Patton is proud to call himself the “purrprietor” of the most cuddly café on the block, but this kind of business wasn’t always on his radar. Three years ago, Patton sold his Louisville-based digital media agency, Traffic Builders, in search of work that might provide more passion and purpose for him. While on vacation, he stumbled across a cat café in Charleston, South Carolina, called Pounce. Upon investigation, Patton learned that the shop was consistently booking 20 people every hour to sip and play. Pounce was assisting with so many adoptions that nearby counties were being sourced to keep the place full of felines in need of homes. The model was so successful, Charleston was actually running out of homeless cats.
Patton thought, “This is the kind of industry disrupter that could change the adoption concept from cages to cuddles.” Typically, cats in need of adoption are housed in cages, which prevents a prospective owner from being able to really interact and get a feel for the animal’s personality, energy level and demeanor. The “cages to cuddles” model hinges on the idea that adopters can meet and mingle with potential pets in advance to determine if they’ll be a good fit for one another before bringing them home.
Purrfect Day is, of course, cat-themed but also has a distinct Kentucky flair. Local beers are on the menu as well as wine, coffee and tea, all served from a bourbon-barrel bar. There is an outdoor “catio” area, snacks and light bites, which are procured locally from Lotsa Pasta and a selection of sweets and “paw-stries” baked by Louisville’s own Najla’s Cookies. Gourmet “paw-pcorn” made by The Popcorn Station, a local Kentucky Proud business, rounds out the menu. A slew of tees, stickers, hats and other merchandise is available for purchase. Patton’s team of three “top cats” (managers), 10 “house cats” (staff) and another 10 “key matchmakers” (volunteers) are on deck to help patrons with everything from adoption paperwork to a great cup of coffee.
So how does it work? Customers make an online reservation and visit the cat lounge within the café in 50-minute blocks of time for a visitation fee of $10 on weekdays and $12 on weekends. Before coming to cuddle the hour away, the easy-to-navigate website walks users through a quick waiver process (covering the occasional kitty-accident and potentially appearing in the background of another patron’s photo) and answers any pre-adoption questions surrounding cost and care. For those who simply want to window-watch the kittens, no reservation in needed. Just pop in for a beverage or a specialty dessert or snack anytime during business hours.
Patton also has plans to host specific events, like “Caturday” morning cartoons for kids and a few yoga-with-cats sessions as early as this fall. Purrfect Day Café absolutely welcomes families, date nights, girls’ nights out and group get-togethers. Patton says one of his personal missions is to “bring some cat awareness to the non-cat people out there.” He told me he’d recently received a call from a gentleman who claimed he “was not a cat person” but that his girlfriend was, so he booked a date night for them to spend with the kittens. Patton and I agreed that guy is a keeper and will probably leave the experience as a feline fan. (If you are so inclined to surprise someone, Purrfect Day does have gift cards available for the cat lovers in your life.)
With a goal of adopting out 300 cats in the first year, Patton is off to a great start. Opening day alone yielded 10 adoptions and new kittens have already backfilled those spots. While the current residents are all around four months old, Patton does intend to have some older cats after the summer (which he refers to as, “kitten season”) is over. VT
1741 Bardstown Road
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday
10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.