Columbia cat cafe opens Tuesday

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COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri’s first cat cafe is just a day away from opening its doors. Papa’s Cat Cafe opens Tuesday after a successful Kickstarter campaign made it all possible.    

After visiting a cat cafe in South Korea with his family, Ryan Kennedy wanted to open one in Columbia. 

He left his teaching job to make this a reality.  

Now, Kennedy is the proud owner of Papa’s Cat Cafe located on 14 S. 2nd Street near Lucky's Market. A cat cafe is just like a regular cafe only one side has a cat playroom where people can come in and play with multiple cats — and maybe even adopt one.   

His inspiration comes from his favorite author, Ernest Hemingway, who also loves cats. Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida is home to about 50 cats. The approximately 600 square foot cat room is a play on Hemingway’s home from the green shutters to the all-white interior walls.

“What first drew me to Hemingway was that he didn't waste words,” Kennedy said. “If he included a detail, you knew there was something behind it, which it’s a little bit of a puzzle, too, because your'e asking yourself constantly 'Why did he include this detail if he’s such a spare writer?'” 

The cats are from Boone County Animal Care — a foster care based organization for “cats and kittens of all ages and physical conditions.”

“This isn't a place for every cat, so they spend a lot of time with them, making sure they're the right fit,” Kennedy said. “We do have some say in who comes here. We're going to be getting a polydactyl cat. A cat with more than the normal number of toes. He’s got seven toes on at least one foot to pay homage to Ernest Hemingway and his beloved polydactyl cat.” 

The cafe will have a total of 20 cats — three of which are permanent residents. 

Their names are Corde, Frankie and Pedro the polydactyl cat named after a character from “The Sun Also Rises” by Hemingway. 

“Yeah we're kind of foster failures in that regard," Kennedy said. "We were only supposed to adopt two and here we are adopting three.”

Among those for adoption is a blind cat named Mirage, a partially bind cat named Sarafina and a former feral cat named Barnacle with a notched ear. 

Kennedy said Barnacle is a great example of what Boone County Animal Care does. His wife, MacKenzie Everett-Kennedy, agrees.  

“He really proves that feral cats can be just as cuddly as non-feral cats,” Everett-Kennedy said. “He’s really the face of BCAC.”  

With more than 240 backers on their Kickstarter campaign and an average donation of $64, Kennedy’s idea became a reality. 

“We want people to really feel like this is a place they can go and spend some time, that it’s comfortable to have a drink and be with friends and also their happens to be cats,” Kennedy said. 

Multiple people got to experience the cat cafe before opening day during a VIP launch party. They drove all the way from Jefferson City to have a good time with cats. 

“It felt very homey and it’s not like any adoption place that you would go or a kennel or anything like that. It was like you could just relax and enjoy the cats,” Deb Juneau said. 

Her friend, Stephanie Roberts, donated to the Kickstarter. She said she was ecstatic when she heard about a cat cafe coming to Columbia. 

“I have three cats already at home and since we can't make that family larger, I figured I would help out with those that don't have a home,” Roberts said. 

"We've done a lot of travel all over the world and so did Ernest Hemingway so we're going to integrate recipes from all over the world,” Everett-Kennedy said.  

The cat room can only hold 20 people at a time per hour, so people must make a reservation if they want a guaranteed spot inside the cat room.   

“It was definitely a labor of love and it’s kind of cool to see your vision come through fruition to plan something on paper and to have all of the design elements for the decor in your head and then to see it all come together,” Everett-Kennedy said. “It’s definitely as nice as we thought it would be or as we hoped it would be.” 

The cafe is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be a ribbon cutting on Thursday at 4 p.m. 

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