TAMPA — Patrons of The Blind Tiger Cafe got a cuddle with a kitty to go with their coffee Saturday afternoon.
The Ybor City establishment was the site of the first “cat cafe” hosted by the Animal Coalition of Tampa, which provides low-cost, basic veterinary care for dogs and cats.
“We always have dog events, and everybody is always like, ‘What about the cats?’” said Meagan Gross, the group’s marketing manager.
So they decided to put on a cat cafe, a concept that is especially popular in Japan, Gross said. People come in for coffee or tea and leave with a newly-adopted cat. And given the line of people waiting to see the cats before the event even started at 3 p.m., the event was a hit, she said.
The group brought 40 cats and kittens from the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center shelter to the cafe Saturday with the goal of finding a home for each of them so they don’t have to be euthanized.
“If not, we gave them this exposure,” Gross said.
The adoption event was held in a room separate from the cafe to keep the felines away from the food. Another separate room was used for people who wanted to take the cats out of cages and hold them while they drank coffee.
Roberto Torres, owner of the Blind Tiger, said two of his co-workers volunteer with the coalition and asked him about using the space for a cat adoption event. He immediately agreed.
“I couldn’t resist the pun,” he said. “The Blind Tiger loves cats.”
He already plans to host similar events in the future, possibly with other animal shelters which always are seeking homes for their cats.
The cafe was packed with people looking for coffee and a kitty.
“Obviously, it was a huge success,” Torres said.
Ben Curtiss and some friends were at the Hillsborough County Animal Shelter earlier Saturday looking at cats when they saw the flier for the cafe, he said. They decided to go check it out, and he wound up taking home a 9-month-old black and white kitten.
“It seems successful,” he said. There were so many people that the cats seemed almost overwhelmed by all the attention.
The crowd cheered when he walked out to the cafe to finalize the adoption papers for his kitten, which didn’t have a name.
“We’re thinking about Batman,” he said.