The Cozy Cat Café: a stress-free zone
Brandie Retana, the owner, met me in the enormous lobby to welcome me to her cat café. Brandie is very low key and super chill, with a gentle manner that’s highly popular with the cats under her care. During my visit, I came to realize that this brand-new cat café has picked up a lot of Brandie’s vibe: every cat is super chill and calm. Relaxed and happy. The Cozy Catfé is an utterly stress-free zone.
I paid for an hour to meet all the cats, knowing that covers the upkeep of the cats, including food, litter, treats, medical care. The cat cover charge includes your choice of a drink. Extras are available – more time, a monthly membership, hours to spend in a dedicated workspace with cats to keep you company. All proceeds go to supporting the cats.
Meeting the residents of the Cozy Catfé
Susan, volunteer and devoted cat lover, showed me around, introducing me to the cats one-by-one. Susan was very knowledgeable about every single cat; she gave me a brief bio of all them, telling me their likes and dislikes. I felt like I was at a party with an attentive hostess. “Mews, this is Jenne, she’s a sucker for orange tabbies. Jenne, Mews likes two-handed pats.”
I was shown to a pretty bathroom to wash up before entering the cat space. Then I was shown an enormous basket of interactive toys and encouraged to select a few to use as icebreakers during my social mingling. I selected a catnip-soaked pillow and a bouncy flamingo with blue feathered wings and dangly hot pink feet.
The first room you pass through is the merchandise room. All supplies are chosen with an eye to a cat’s pleasure. Toys, bags of food, everything you need for no-frills cat adoption. Brandie has even put together starter kits if you go to hang out and suddenly meet THE ONE, THE FUREVER CAT. No panicking that you might have forgotten something: you’ll have food, bowls, boxes, litter, scoops, toys, beds, all ready to go.
Mews and Diva: hosts in the purrfect workplace
After the merchandise room comes The Cozy Workspace, a dedicated private area where you can sit peacefully and get some work done with a cat to keep you company. Imagine how the stress of deadlines will simply disappear when you’re in such a peaceful, relaxed environment.
I had the strong desire to plop my stuff down and rent the room for the morning, getting unlimited refills on coffee while I talked to Mews and Diva, the bonded seniors that live there together. “We were part of a family with three other cats, three dogs, and a bird,” Mews told me. “When our human passed away, I accepted the job here. It’s good because I’m really a working cat.”
A light orange tabby with gold-green eyes and freckles on his pink nose, Mews’s tabby stripes are very subtle except a strong dark burnt-orange one decorating his chest. I wondered if he had any Abyssinian ancestry? He has a magnificent profile. But it seemed overfamiliar to ask.
Mews introduced me to Diva, his elegant sister, a white beauty snuggled into a gray pouf bed. A bonded pair, Mews and Diva are waiting to find a human who will take them both. “With my looks, I can afford to be picky,” yawned Diva, before returning to her beauty nap. Mews shrugged. “I know. But she’s family.”
The Cozy Catfé mission: adult cats
I walked through the kitten chamber, where a dreamy black cat named Loki lounged in a hammock. Loki did a big stretch and said hello by plonking himself in my lap when I knelt down to get a better photo of him. Why the kitten chamber? I asked.
“You calling me too old?” he laughed. “Nah, there’s just usually no one here except me. Brandie’s mission is all about helping adult cats find their forever humans. But every now and then she gets suckered into that,” he said, nodding over his shoulder at two kittens snuggled into a cat tree nearby.
Elvis: the Cozy Catfé’s cat of the week
The Cozy Catfé is ENORMOUS, with a maze of rooms that open up into bigger and bigger chambers. The high ceilings and extra floor space reminds me of a large dance studio. A wide selection of colored cat trees, all different heights and designs, are placed so that the cats can use them to vault up to the upper level of a running track that goes around the room. A black cat named Elvis rolled around on an upper shelf, showing off.
“It’s a good workout. Also, privacy is so important when you live with so many roommates,” Elvis told me, rubbing his cheek against a shelf. “See that brown tabby down there? Worst fish breath. But when I jump up here I never have to run into him. Did I mention I’m the Cat of the Week? Kind of a big deal.”
Every wall is covered with cat jungle gyms, ladders, cubbies, and racetracks near the ceilings, tripling the amount of territory the cats can explore and providing endless escape routes. All custom-built by Brandie’s husband.
What’s the secret to the Cozy Catfé’s success?
I settled down on one of the comfortable couches and chatted with Brandie, Susan, and Rue, a stunning pale gray calico who enthusiastically slaughtered my feathered flamingo toy. “I’m waiting for a human who brings a little something extra to massage time,” Rue told me, mid-feather destruction. “It’s awesome here. At the shelter everything was so rushed. But now I can just have fun and enjoy being single!” She tore a wing off the flamingo with relish.
Was the Cozy Catfé a lifelong dream? I asked Brandie. How did she and her husband do it? Brandie thought for a moment. “The pandemic came. I think everyone was in the same boat, and I was reassessing my life. Owning a business was the last thing I ever wanted. I just wanted to be a stay-at-home cat mom. We prayed on it. I realized that these adult cats marooned in shelters are the most important thing. The kittens are fine, they have no trouble getting adopted. But the adults need help.”
The fundamental mission of the Cozy Catfé is to give adult cats a warm, cozy, stress-free environment to meet potential human life partners. So Brandie and her husband created the cat café together in December of 2021. It’s been a labor of love.
The Cozy Catfé cats are freaking happy.
Let me tell you, every cat I met was freaking happy. Who wouldn’t be in that spotlessly clean space with at least two trees for every cat, including endless tunnels, toys, and places to climb and things to do?
As I passed through the Cozy Workspace, I rested my jacket on the desk so I could wash my hands again and start getting rugged up for the cold weather outside. When I came back from washing up, I found Mews the orange tabby/possible Abyssinian mix happily going through my bag while he sat on my jacket. “Let me wash my face first,” he said, when I got out my camera. “I look terrible in pictures.”
On my way out, I saw Loki in someone else’s lap. I shouldn’t have said there have been 89 adoptions. I’ll eat that flamingo toy if the Cozy Catfé isn’t up to 90 or more adoptions by now.