NEW HAVEN – People pause to look at the cats sleeping in the window of Mew Haven, but unlike most showrooms on the strip, the main attractions are not for sale. They are up for adoption.
The first cat cafe in the state is open as a pop-up shop at 904 Whalley Ave. in the Westville section of New Haven through Dec. 13. Owned by Angela and Michael Pullo, the shop capitalizes on a recent trend fusing cat lovers and coffee addicts.
The bright and colorful space is adorned with custom shelves and cat-sized stairs on the wall to allow its five felines-in-residence the freedom to climb while a variety of scratch pads, toys and hide-aways ensure there’s never a lack of stimulation for the cats.
All of the cats can be adopted through Animal Haven, a local shelter. Being able to interact with the cats in a natural setting can be useful for those looking to adopt, Angela Pullo said.
“Some people want to know what it’s like to have a cat or get to know a cat’s personality before they adopt,” Pullo said. “This is a cat’s home for the time they are here so they are comfortable roaming free and you can really see their personality shine and you can see if they like you before you put in an application.”
While the cafe and cat lounge can function as a creative workspace or adoption showroom, it can also provide a sort of animal therapy for those who are unable to own a cat possibly due to allergies or housing restrictions, Pullo said.
”Just being able to pick up a cat and hold him makes you feel so much better,” Pullo said. “If there’s anyone who needs a little bit of therapeutic stress relief, it’s definitely the students.”
The cafe is located near Southern Connecticut State University and is just a few miles from Yale University. The business has already seen a steady influx of curious customers since opening last month, Pullo said. She recommended making an reservation for a visit through their website at mewhavencatcafe.com.
Pullo said the cafe is not currently serving coffee, but plans are to incorporate coffee and other cafe amenities when the business reopens next year.
Woodbridge resident Shana Ross came in to browse for a cat to potentially adopt with her son Micah, 6, who smiled as he teased one of the cats with a dangling toy.
“I think this is so exciting,” Ross said. “I’ve seen (cat cafes) online forever and I work from home so I’m hoping this will be a location I can come for a change of scenery now and then.”
For Southern Connecticut State University students Cassidy and Rhiannon Cappannelli, the cafe offered a refuge from the stresses of finals. The sisters brought cameras to take pictures of the felines as they wandered the room or curled up in the space’s various nooks.
“Just being able to see cats makes me happy,” Cassidy Cappannelli said.
“There’s no drama with a cat,” Rhiannon Cappannelli said as she pet a tabby snoozing on the couch. “You get what you get and I like that.”