It’s no secret Sunset Hill Stoneware supplies custom coffee mugs to coffee houses all over the U.S., and the world. However, one shop up the road from us offers something different and helping animals in the process. The Pawffee Shop Cat Cafe in Appleton is the first cafe in the Fox Valley where animal lovers can spend time with cats while enjoying their favorite drinks.
A Pawesome Solution for Cat Lovers
The first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998. However, Japanese tourists brought the novel idea home with them, and in just a few years the concept took off. Now though, there are enough cat cafes worldwide that trying to visit all of them would be cat-astrophic. Luckily, the Pawffee Shop opened in Appleton in September 2019, so Wisconsinites don’t have to travel far to enjoy drinks, baked goods and the company of some furry friends.
Leah Enking and Elizabeth Feldhausen, the owners behind Pawffee Shop, felt the Fox Valley needed a cat cafe. Leah gauged interest from the community through surveys on Facebook. Since Elizabeth also founded Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary and comes from a rescue background, she and Leah decided to use cats from the sanctuary in the cafe so they could be adopted.
“We have a lot of animal lovers in the area, between all the different rescues and humane societies,” Leah explained. “I wanted a place where people could hang out with cats and see their personality more than just looking at one in a cage.”
Ever since Pawffee Shop opened, it’s been a hit. Hundreds of people come in each week, whether they’re just grabbing a coffee or coming to study in the evening. Some patrons even buy a bottomless cup, pull out their laptops and work for hours.
The idea behind the cafe was that people would see the cats when they can roam in a large living room. It also gives people who can’t have pets a chance to get their animal fix. Because of that, Leah has seen everything from first dates to book clubs come in for the cats.
The Purr-fect Chance to Adopt
The Pawffee Shop’s nonprofit partner, Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, is a no-kill sanctuary that rescues kitties with special needs in Green Bay and Appleton. Although the shelter caters to special needs cats, there are also mellow adult cats and those with FIV. Local shelters also send cats to Safe Haven to reduce overcrowding. Since adopters often overlook adult and special needs cats, being in the cat cafe gives people a chance to see them up close.
“When it comes down to it, it’s not any different,” Leah said. “Most of the time, the cats are so resilient. They overcome whatever they’re going through so well anyways that if it wasn’t something you could see like a missing eye or a missing limb, you would never know.”
Each day, many of these cats come to play at Pawffee Shop. That way, guests can see them and potentially find a new friend to bring home later on. Safe Haven sponsors the veterinary care for all of the animals. Leah also noted that all of the cats were spayed or neutered recently. Donations from cafe purchases or at the entrance to the cat room fund these important health procedures.
“I was pretty sure in my initial planning that this was the route I wanted to go,” Leah said. “I knew that being a for-profit coffee shop supporting a nonprofit cat rescue was going to be the way to go.”
Although Pawffee Shop just opened on Labor Day weekend in 2019, Leah and Elizabeth still have ideas for the future. If the cafe continues to be as successful as it has ben, the pair haven’t ruled out a second location. However, since the business is still so new, Leah wants to see what happens during the winter.
“I’m hoping winter will bring more people in since it’s an indoor thing for people to do,” Leah said.
Supporting Pawffee Shop Cat Cafe
The food, drinks and merchandise Pawffee Shop uses in their cafe area comes from local sources. The baked goods and coffee are from businesses in Chilton, Appleton, Green Bay and other surrounding towns. Since we make them a few miles away, our stoneware coffee mugs are a clawesome fit. Since Pawffee Shop is a local business doing good in the world, we were more than happy to help.
Visitors to the cat cafe will find an extra-large Straight Shot mug in Mustachio that they can take home with them, featuring Pawffee Shop’s purrfectly classy logo with a cat paw. There’s also a Java Taster in Royal Green that matches the cat cafe’s chic, earthy color scheme. Because of the cafe’s relationship with Safe Haven, these mugs not only support Pawffee Shop, but also the friends they host that are looking for a fur-ever home.
However, Pawffee Shop works to unify the community in other ways too. When we visited them, the cafe had a rainbow flag in the window and was preparing cat-shaped rainbow cookies. Leah explained that Pawffee Shop was participating in Appleton’s #OutinAppleton event with Diverse and Resilient, a Wisconsin-based LGBT group that advocates for the health and safety of their community. The event coincides with National Coming Out Day, an annual awareness day for the LGBT community on Oct. 11.
“We want to make an inclusive environment here for all people,” Leah explained. “That’s just who we are as people, too.”
Regardless of sexual orientation, age, race or whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert, Pawffee Shop aims to be a unifying space. Visitors can come to the cat cafe for a drink and their fix of fuzzy felines from Tuesday to Saturday, with reservations available on Saturdays. Check out the cafe’s website for hours and other information.