Cat cafe might come to mid-Missouri

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COLUMBIA - Cat cafes have popped up across the world in cities including New York City, London and Tokyo, and one man is working to bring one to mid-Missouri.

Ryan Kennedy wants to open Papa's Cat Cafe. He started a Kickstarter campaign Thursday to help him fund the business, and as of Saturday, it has raised more than $1,000 out of his $15,000 goal.

Kennedy said visiting a cat cafe in South Korea inspired him to bring the idea to Columbia. 

“We went to that cat café, and it was so different and unique," he said.

He said his wife is a dog person, so he did not have a cat for a long time. He said he wanted Columbia to have a cat cafe to give him an opportunity to "get a cat fix every once in a while." The closest cat cafe is Mauhaus in Maplewood, a St. Louis suburb.

Papa's Cat Cafe would have a coffee shop with drinks and snacks, and customers could take their purchases into a separate room. That room would have 10 cats through a partnership with Boone County Animal Care. Patrons would be able to play with the cats and adopt them.

Columbia residents would have a new place to relax, and cats would benefit too, Kennedy said. Jennifer Romesburg, president of Boone County Animal Care, said cats would get adopted faster.

"They can go in, hang out, pick out their cat, see their true personality, their true colors," Romesburg said. "A lot of times the cat picks the person too.”

Kennedy said he got his cat Hardy from Boone County Animal Care.

"(They can) be sure that it’s a cat they actually want to spend the next possibly 10 or 15 years with, and we can help with the homeless cat population here in Columbia," he said.

Romesburg said Boone County Animal Care wants to reach 500 cat adoptions by the end of the year. She said she thinks it could double this goal by partnering with Papa's Cat Cafe.

Kennedy said the Department of Health and Senior Services has approved his plan.

“As long as those two rooms are completely separated and they use the right door system, then we’re good to go," he said. "We're pretty much set to open wherever we want to.”

Kennedy said he has not found a location yet but wants the cafe to be downtown. He said Papa's Cat Cafe could open as soon as summer 2018. 

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