From this neck of the woods

What’s better than a cafe? A catfe.

McKenna Dirks

More stories from McKenna Dirks

3rd and Vine
April 5, 2022

Cafes are a place where people go to drink coffee, catch up with friends or even just to relax. But what about a cafe with cats? That’s right, a cat cafe. Better yet, a catfe.

Located in Menomonie, Wisconsin, Tabby’s Catfe is one of only 63 cat cafes in the United States, and it’s not even a half an hour away. The world’s first cat cafe, Cat Flower Garden, opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998, whereas the first one in the Chippewa Valley, Tabby’s Catfe, opened in July, 2017.

The owners of Tabby’s Catfe, Jason and Karlyn Davis, hold their profession in entrepreneurship; they own three different bars around the Menomonie area: The Market, The Arena and The Waterfront. The two especially enjoy cats and coffee, so they thought why not put them together? The name itself, Tabby’s Catfe, comes from the common housecat — the Tabby cat.

“(It’s) arguably the most common set of coat markings a cat can have,” Karlyn said, “It’s basically a play on words.”

They have been working with their local Humane Society to provide cats for their catfe while also giving customers an opportunity to adopt a cat.

Scientists say that having a cat helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which ultimately helps protect against heart disease, Riley Dunham, one of Tabby’s Catfe employees, said.

“Cats are very much known for relieving stress in humans,” Dunham said. “The vibration of the purring releases tension.”

Cats being housed in the same place as food may not seem like a great idea, given that cats pose a sanitation problem, but Jason and Karlyn Davis established their catfe to be FDA-friendly. The cats are kept in a room separate from the cafe. Upon arrival at the catfe, guests are asked to make their purchases of food/beverages first. If a guest does not wish to make a purchase, they kindly suggest the guest make a two dollar donation that goes directly to the care of the cats. The purchase or donation is essentially the “admission ticket” to the cat area. The Davises emphasize bringing no food into the cat room and the importance of using hand sanitizer when exiting the cat room. These simple rules allows them to create the environment they want for their guests.

“It’s just a very unique idea,” Sam Stein, a UW-Eau Claire first-year math and composition student said. “It really gives you something to do while you sip your beverage rather than stare at your awkward first date.”

There is no set time limit guests are allowed to spend with the cats. Dunham said she’s seen people take naps on the couches in the room just cuddling with the cats all day.

Students who need some kitty love, coffee or even just a break from classes can consider Tabby Catfe the place to be.

Dirks can be reached at [email protected]