Entrepreneur Wants To Open Hampton Roads’ First Cat Cafe In Norfolk

By Elisha Sauers
The Virginian-Pilot

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) What is a Cat cafe? Well, it’s not a cafe you bring your cat to. It’s not a cafe that serves cat. It’s a business that provides the company of cats and coffee — and sometimes room for laptops. Wi-fi usually accompanies the whiskers.

NORFOLK

Freeda Steele has her mind set on having a new kind of business next year, even if she has to claw her way through a hairball of a permitting process.

This is a tail of how an everyday cat lover decided she wanted to open Hampton Roads’ first cat cafe.

Before Steele had reached the age of 40, she discovered she had breast cancer. At the same time, she and her husband were separating. Though not one to dwell on hardships, Steele says that tough time gave her clarity on the life she wanted after — one with a legacy and no regrets.

“I don’t want to be on my deathbed, thinking ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ ” she said.

Cat cafe: It’s not a cafe you bring your cat to. It’s not a cafe that serves cat. It’s a business that provides the company of cats and coffee — and sometimes room for laptops. Wi-fi usually accompanies the whiskers.

Warning: The following story is littered with cat puns.

The concept of the cat cafe seems to have started in Taiwan and gained popularity in Japan. The trend has worked its way to the Western hemisphere, with locations in San Diego, New York, L.A. and Washington. There’s no definitive source for cat cafes in the United States, but most estimates put the clowder between 20 and 25, all pouncing on the market within the past three years.

Some people find relaxation in petting or playing with cats. Some have landlords restricting them from having their own at home. The cafes become an urban refuge for both the animals and those craving their affection.

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