At Purrfect Day Cafe in Covington, it is imperative that customers watch where they are seated. No, there are no assigned seats or a “cool table” mentality for naughty girls, but in the cat room there are between 20 and 25 friendly felines lounging comfortably in beds and baskets. for pets, nesting on wall perches and even snuggling under blankets.
During a recent visit, cafe owner Chuck Patton issued the important peek-before-plop reminder while waving toward a pink furry throw draped over a white sofa. Below, a tortoiseshell cat slumbered, like a Where is Waldo?, its shape hidden from view, making a barely visible ball in the fabric. For the café cats, this is their home – at least until they’re adopted – and while they’ve all been behaviorally tested, none of them like to sit (as we can imagine).
“We look for cats that have been socialized,” says Patton. “(Our shelter partners) make sure they are well suited, not only to be with other cats, but also with people.”
Purrfect Day works with three animal rescues spanning three states – Kenton County Animal Services in northern Kentucky, Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society in Northside, and PAWS of Dearborn County Humane Center in Lawrenceburg, Indiana – to get their cats and kittens back. All of the cafe’s cats are adoptable and all have been spayed or neutered, are dewormed, are up to date on their vaccines, and are FeLV and FIV negative. If you fall in love with a cat, you can fill out an adoption form on the spot and work with an adoption supervisor to bring your new furry friend home the same day. Each session in the feline zone costs $15 and lasts 50 minutes. Reservations are available online.
“Our cats tend to be super friendly and super affectionate,” Patton says. “And that’s what gets them adopted. It’s not necessarily, ‘Oh, this one looks like that. This one looks like this. It’s the cat that, you’re seated and you have your glass of wine, then that cat immediately climbs into your lap and wants you to pet it. And someone says, “Hey, I have to take this cat home.”
In 2021, Purrfect Day adopted 709 cats, making it one of the top five cat cafes in the United States, Patton says. “I want to reach 1,000 (adoptions). I think we can do it,” he says of this year’s goal.
A native of Fort Thomas, Kentucky, Patton opened Purrfect Day in November 2020. He also runs a Purrfect Day Cafe in his current hometown of Louisville, which he opened in 2018 (in 2021, the Louisville site adopted approximately 1,700 cats). The original inspiration for Purrfect Day came from a cat cafe Patton saw while visiting South Carolina, and the idea to open a branch in Covington came from a conversation with the manager of Kenton County Animal Services.
“We had such success in Louisville and I thought how great it would be if I could take that success and kind of bring it to the tri-state area where I grew up,” Patton said. “What’s been amazing is that this community just embraced it.”
If you visit the Cat Room, Purrfect Day recommends that you come 15 minutes before your reservation for a drink or snack at the cafe. The menu — which features soft pretzels from Dayton, Kentucky’s Tuba Baking Co., as well as pastries, “pawcorn,” and a full bar — is full of feline puns. There are “meowmosas”, a selection of “purrbons” and specially brewed beers from Northern Kentucky’s Darkness Brewing and Braxton Brewing Co.. The cafe also offers hot or iced “kitt-teas” and “paw-fees,” including a hit called the Smelly Cat.
“I think the most important thing to point out is that the cat part – where the cats live, hang out and interact with customers – is completely separate from the area with the bar. So the misnomer is, ‘I’m going to come over there and there will be cats everywhere and I’m going to eat and drink where the cats are.’ And that’s just not the truth,” Patton says.
The cat room and cafe are self-contained spaces, separated by glass, with individual entrance doors and their own HVAC systems. Food is not allowed in the cat room (and cats are not allowed in the food hall), but guests may bring their own beverages, including alcoholic beverages.
Patton says he sees many guests visiting the cafe who are allergic but enjoy the distant company of cats, as well as those whose partners are allergic to cats. Separate systems and viewing windows allow for confined experiments.
“Our customers are about 70% hugs, 30% adopters,” Patton says, noting that hugs are an important part of Operation Purrfect Day.
“(The cats) have suffered a trauma, haven’t they? They go out on the street, someone finds them, someone abandons them, then they go to a shelter. Then often they undergo a major surgery – a spay/neuter – then they’re put back in a crate and they come to the cafe. There’s a lot of stress there,” he says. “And our goal is to de-stress that. That’s where what do the 70% cuddles come in – they just make sure the cats feel safe, make sure the cats are loved and then when that happens it really completely changes the personality (of the cat) for the adopter who arrives.
The end goal of the cat cafe is to bring these animals into forever homes.
“What I’m embracing is cleaning the end of the pipe. By getting all these animals adopted, shelters hear about it and they say, ‘You know what, (now) we can do more outreach. Now we we can house more cats; we can examine more cats,” says Patton.
“We really want to be able to help shelters so they can continue to help the community,” he continues.
Patton shares how Purrfect Day’s model helps get cats adopted, and quickly, in ways some shelters can’t do alone.
“What’s special to me is the directors of rural shelters in our states, they literally have cats – it happened two weeks ago – that have been sitting in cages since August and then they come to the cafe and they’re very sweet and they’ll be adopted within a week,” he said. “And it’s heart-warming to see (the shelter’s) reaction to that.”
In addition to the cat room, the cafe offers space for private parties and meetings and hosts events including yoga with cats and trivial parties. He also supports surrounding shelters by donating 50% of his tips to a general fund. Patton says Purrfect Day was recently able to donate $3,000 to PAWS in Lawrenceburg.
He and his team also hope to host dog-friendly events outdoors this summer, perhaps modeled after his successful “Hot Diggity Dog” event in Louisville that features adoptable puppies and hot dogs. Patton and his wife, Tricia – who designed the interior for Purrfect Day – also bought the old townhouse next to the cafe and are renovating it into a pet-friendly Airbnb, with an outdoor gathering space connecting both buildings.
But none of this would be possible without the community.
“Our mission spans across the tri-state and especially helps some of these shelters that don’t have the resources to do so,” Patton says. “If you pay the fee to enter the cat room, you obviously keep our lights on. If you walk in and tip, it’s a donation. There are people who have this assumption, I even had very close friends who said: “I can’t wait to come see you”. I’ll come see you when I’m ready to adopt. I’m like, no, I have a bar here – coffee, teas, all that kind of stuff. Like, if you’re going for a drink anyway, you might as well (get it here).”
“If you cross our threshold, you help,” he says.
Purrfect Day Coffee is located at 25 W. Eighth St., Covington. For more information or to book, visit purrfectdaycafecovington.com.
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