Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Lola on the Road: Orlando Cat Cafe (Clermont, FL)

Welcome to a new post in our series "Lola on the Road." It was so much fun sharing my experiences with you in 2018  and I'm looking forward to continuing into 2019. I'm proud to announce that "Lola on the Road" is now an award-winning series! I'm over the moon that it has earned me a Certificate of Excellence in the Cat Writers' Association Annual Communication Contest. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has responded so positively to this series and has asked for more. As long as I'm able to travel to cafés I'll continue to share them with you. Coffee and cats! Two of my favorite things in the world. If you've missed any of the previous posts you can catch up on all of the fabulous places I've visited here

Today I'm happy to bring you a wonderful café I'm sure you'll love reading about - Orlando Cat Cafe in Clermont, FL. 



Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

When I was in Florida for Global Pet Expo, I couldn't resist a trip to a cat café so I made sure I left some time for a quick visit. Orlando Cat Café's tag line is "Where the Cool Cats Hang Out." The cats aren't the only things that are cool about this place. The café is located in a storefront in the beautiful Town Center at Cagan Crossings


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

There are tables outside where visitors can enjoy their coffee, tea, specialty drinks, or snacks outdoors if they wish. I was there on a Saturday afternoon and it was very peaceful. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

Visitors enter through their partner, Axum Coffee, a big-hearted, giving company who believes in changing lives one cup of coffee at a time. Their idea was to create a space where community members can unite while helping orphans, human trafficking victims, the poverty-stricken, those without potable water and many others in need. In 2015 Axum extended their "giving spirit" to the animal community and partnered with Orlando Cat Café. You can see their other locations here and view the menu here.  

I love coffee shops, and Axum didn't disappoint. It was trendy and comfortable, complete with cat-themed decor and books for your perusal while you sip your cup of Joe. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

Entrance to the cat café is paid for in Axum, as well as any cat café purchases that are made. (You can bring your goodies into the cat area with you.)


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

There's a viewing area where you can watch the cats while you're waiting for your reservation time. Or maybe you just want to smile while you're enjoying your coffee. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

When you enter the café you're in a large room that has lots of comfortable places for both the felines and the humans. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

I was warmly welcomed by the staff and had the pleasure of speaking to Stefanie, the "cat caretaker" and social media specialist. Stefanie loves seeing cats blossom and enjoys playing matchmaker, finding them their purrfect forever home. One piece of her job that brings her joy is speaking to potential adopters about what kind of cat they want, bringing a cat out front from the back area, and witnessing love at first sight. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Sorry, I don't know this little cutie's name. It was hard to keep track of cats'
 names because there were several Tabbies and others who looked alike! 

That's what happened with Velvet, their oldest cat adopted at 17. When Stefanie brought Velvet out to her potential adopters, put her in a bed and spread some catnip around, Velvet actually purred for the first time! Twenty minutes later her potential adopters became her forever family. After Velvet passed away her owners came back to the café and adopted a seven year old. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

Stefanie loves capturing the cats' personalities through photos and putting them on Instagram. She feels this entices the locals to come in more frequently, especially college students who can't have their cats with them. 

Which leads me this little ball of fire, Coco. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

There is a kitten playhouse in the café which visitors can spend ten minutes in if they wish. Of course, I didn't pass that up! Coco was in constant motion, unlike her kitten friends. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Click to enlarge.

She even got inside my bag. It's a good thing I noticed because she was pretty much camouflaged! 



Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

I was told there was a hold on Coco, and they were waiting for her new mom to come in and pick her up. When I was outside waiting for my Uber, a young college-aged woman, who was driving a car with New Jersey plates, left the café with a cat carrier. I struck up a conversation with her, and guess what? She adopted Coco! She told me she had been there that morning, but Coco was asleep. So she paid for an extra hour, and when Coco woke she immediately fell in love  and adopted her. Coco's new mom was beaming with joy! When she goes home at the end of the semester Coco will be taking the road trip with her.  I love stories like this!


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Click to enlarge.

The café is spacious but cozy. There is plenty of catification for the kitties to climb and enjoy, and plenty of space for humans to relax and play with them. There are also tables and chairs where you can drink your coffee, eat your delicious snack from Axum, or set your laptop up to work. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Click to enlarge.

There was a full house when I was there, and the visitors were very engaged with the cats. It was actually very difficult to get photos of them. (The cats, not the people. LOL) 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Click to enlarge.


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

If the cats need some alone time or get too stimulated, there is a room in the back for relaxation with plenty of beds for a quick cat nap. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
There were a lot of shaved bellies! 


Sandy Cagan is the founder and owner of Orland Cat Café. She got the idea in December 2014 when NBC Nightly News did a story on a cat café opening in New York City. "In 2015 I was turning 50 and people say when you turn 50 you stop thinking about what you are going to put on your resume and start thinking about what people are going to say at your eulogy. I was looking for a way to 'make a difference' in the world but was unsure as to what to do", says Sandy. Sandy felt that with 20 years of experience in property management and a lifelong love of cats, opening a cat café was something she could do. 

Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Every house should have this sign!

Orlando Cat Café is the first to open in the State of Florida. Sandy told me that "even with my 20 years of property management experience it still took almost 22 months from the time I had the idea to the time we opened." She spent most of that time finding the right partners.   


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

The SPCA of Florida is her rescue partner. They are a large organization, with 76 staff and 400 volunteers! SPCA has a feline behaviorist on staff and she, along with the shelter vet, determine which cats get to come to the café. According to Sandy, "most of our cats do very well in the café environment, but it is not for everyone." 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

Sandy says the joy she gets from owning the café is "truly indescribable." She gets asked a lot what her favorite adoption story is, and "to be honest, it's every adoption." She's so happy when they can make the purrfect match! 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

The café's adoption rates are impressive. On the day I visited in March, there were 409 adoptions since their opening in 2016! They also have a big turnover in cats in the café with the longest stay being only four months. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

The maximum number of cats in house at one time is 20. More than 20 puts a great deal of stress on the staff because they provide daily wellness checks on all of the cats. There are usually between 12 and 20 feline residents. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes


All of the cats were very relaxed, happy, and enjoyed interacting with the visitors. They were always under the careful supervision of staff and volunteers. (That always makes me very happy!) When Stefanie was speaking to me she made sure she always had one watchful eye on the cats. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
All sleeping cats were not disturbed. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

Stefanie says it's sometimes challenging finding the balance with people respecting the cats' space. "Not everyone knows [their] language" and she enjoys teaching them to pick up on the cats' cues. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Pin Us!

Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

All of the cats are ready to go to their forever home. Once a visitor is interested in adopting, they fill out a "Getting to Know You" questionnaire that is reviewed by one of the trained counselors. Adoption fees may vary depending on breed and age. Generally, kittens under six months old are $150 and cats over 6 months old are $100. SPCA offers a 15% discount on adoption fees to all military personnel and a 15% off Senior Discount on Adoption Fees for people who are over 60 who are adopting a cat who is over 5 years old.


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes


Orlando Cat Café is located at 532 Cagan Park Avenue, Clermont, FL 34714. 

Business hours are: 

Monday: Noon - 6:00 pm
Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

The cost per hour is  $8.00 for adults and $4 for children under 12. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

The café, which is absolutely immaculate, has four part-time employees and many volunteers. A very generous portion of their profits goes back to SPCA of Florida. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes


If you'd like to help Orlando Cat Café and SPCA of Florida in their mission, you can read about different ways here.  You can also attend events which include trivia, painting, yoga, and pet CPR and first aid! Check out their monthly calendar here


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes

I had a great time at the café, and I loved seeing everyone's passion and love for the cats. The hard work and dedication that goes into maintaining the café and the care of the cats is obvious. I'd like to extend a big "Thank You" to Stefanie for accommodating me and talking to me about the café, and to Sandy for taking the time to answer my questions. I only have one complaint - I didn't have enough time there! I had a plane to catch and needed to get to the airport. I hope to visit again someday soon. 

Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes
Click to enlarge.

Sandy was very generous and didn't charge me admission. I wanted to pay it forward and I bet regular readers of this column knows what that means... I went shopping! I bought a few mugs and t-shirts, and a shirt in a mug for another Cat Cafe Swag Giveaway. 


Orlando Cat Cafe|Cat Cafes


Don't forget to follow Orlando Cat Café on social media: 

                         Twitter Facebook | Instagram   Youtube

In order to keep this post at a somewhat readable length, I'll end it here. Stay tuned for the next installment in our cat café series as Lola on the Road goes to Mauhous Cat Café and Lounge in St. Louis. 

What's your favorite cat café? We'd love to hear about it. 

Dawn    

28 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful, wonderful cafe and I love how so many less young ones get their forever homes!

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  2. What a nice place. I'd love to have a cup of coffee there. 17 year old Velvet getting adopted made me feel so happy. Nice blog! Well done!

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  3. It looks like you had a great visit! I'm so glad you noted it's in Clermont. With another cat cafe due actually in Orlando soon, it's going to get confusing for our visitors from out of town, and I plan to write up explainers about it.

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  4. How wonderful and how I wish I was there at the same time! I'd meet you...and I'd meet all the babies waiting there for their families. I love reading about the cafe and I am so glad you go to them. There is one in Charlotte NC I want to go to next time I go over the mountains to see my son who lives there. He too is a cat person. Precious beautiful charges there and in all th cafes. Thank you for going and showing us what we are missing.

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  5. we love your on the road adventures - we certainly think these cafes are helping cats be less stressed and get into forever homes faster

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  6. First, congrats on the award! What a great series! This cafe looks wonderful and what beauties. I have always loved this concept. Wish we had a local cafe here!

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  7. I feel like a groupie, since I met up with you at the Ferndale Catfe Lounge in Michigan! Great series, and when I'm in Denver next month, I'll be visiting the Denver Cat Company. I love that they work hard at the Orlando Cat Cafe to match the cat's purrsonality with adopters; I think that is very important!

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  8. guyz; yur cafe bee awesum N we troo lee hope each oh ewe findz yur foreverz
    soooper quik like coco did...N yea, we saw sum gram paw dude look a likez !! :) ♥♥☺☺

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  9. Wow! This sounds like an AWESOME cat cafe! My human wishes it wasn't so far away from us.

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  10. This series DESERVES an award and we're so excited you're continuing with it! This cafe sounds pawsome.

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  11. Wow! As I always say, so many kitties, so little time! The only cat cafe I've been to is the one in Houston and I confess that I chose the shyest, most timid cats as the focus of my attention - probably freaking them out. Everyone deserves love! Something I need to work on before my next cat cafe visit.

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  12. That place looks amazing. If I traveled, I would definitely go there.

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  13. What a wonderful place to visit ! Purrs

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  14. Such a terrific cat cafe! We love the catification, and it's easy to see the kitties are well cared for. :)

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  15. Sounds amazing, and loved reading about the cat adopted at 17!! The pictures are beautiful, and I'm impressed by the difference the coffee shop is making in the local community for humans and animals alike. I read about so many cat cafes yet there still isn't one anywhere near me. I definitely know where I would be spending my days!

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  16. Another great tour of another great cat cafe! Another one just opened up near us, so I hope to stop by soon.

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  17. I am loving doing the tour with you but also loving that these cafes are popping up every where and cats are getting good homes.

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  18. Wow! What a lovely café. I'm not in Florida however if I ever visit again I'll have to stop by there. I love the adoption stories and also how the owner thought about starting something new after 50! I love it. Congrats on her success and over 409 adoptions!! Changing lives one adoption at a time!

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  19. What a great report about a wonderful cafe . I am not surprised they are so great at adopting cats wooHOOOO.

    Oddly enough, senior cats at cafe's do much better than at rescues I think. Here at Neko Ngeru a senior called Sharon was adopted by a lady who lives on a boat (and yes Sharon has fallen in but she is just fine!).

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  20. Wow - what a bunch of great photos of the place! The kitties must really enjoy their time there along with visitors! - Tom x

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  21. These places look so cozy. I love the sign, too.

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  22. I love the picture of the cat sneaking in your bag. The cafe is lovely. I like that she thinks about teaching her visitors to respect the cats.

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  23. Congratulations on being an award-winning series! That's fantastic! We quite often visit Orlando and will keep an eye out for the cafe.

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  24. I've never been to a cat cafe, but it sounds wonderful. I loved your photos, especially of Coco inside your bag. Their adoption rate is VERY impressive.

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  25. What a beautiful cat cafe! I've only visited one cat cafe (that was in NYC with your mom) and I really liked it.

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  26. Our pawrents will be in Orlando area in a couple of weeks. They said they'll try to check it out. Purrs!

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  27. Oh gosh, Velvet's story! I am so glad she spent her last days in a loving home! I haven't been to Orlando in years, but this makes me want to go.

    I love the decorating style with the shaggy rug and couch!

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