During our vacation to Charleston a few years back, we planned out an itinerary of things to do. Most of these focused on places to eat (it’s Charleston, after all), and historic landmarks to visit. Then randomly, as I was missing our 2 cats at home, I Googled “cat cafe” and saw that there was one within walking distance of our hotel — Pounce Cat Cafe. It was clearly meant to be and a no-brainer to order tickets for the following day.
Pounce Cat Cafe is the first cat cafe to operate in the South, and has since expanded to other locations outside of Charleston. Their website spells it out better than I could ever — “Pounce Cat Cafe + Wine Bar is a place where you can hang out with furry felines, sip on your favorite beverage, and snack on a delicious pastry.” The cafe partners with the Charleston Animal Society to provide the cats (all of which are adoptable). Since we were visiting from out-of-town, it was clear we weren’t there to adopt, but instead to give the cats some love and attention and ultimately make a donation to the animal society ($15 entrant fee per person). While we were there, we did see one of the cats get adopted after a visit, which was really heartwarming.
Since their launch in December 2016, Pounce Cat Cafe has adopted out over 2,300 cats and kittens in South Carolina and Georgia. By housing shelter cats in a cozy cafe in the middle of these cities (which are huge tourist locations), they help to significantly increase shelter cats’ visibility and their chances for being adopted. The cafe typically has 15-20 cats available at a time, helping free up space at the local shelters as well. And at the cafe, they have a large open space to roam around and interact with one another (as well as interact with people).
As mentioned above, it truly is a cat cafe. Pounce has a separate little section in the back that has a bar and lounge filled with beer, wine, coffee, tea, and other soft drinks, as well as baked goods. They also carry a bunch of cat lover merch, like fun tees and books.
Our experience was so much fun! Because there are so many cats and that they limit the amount of people who have appointments at each time slot, you are always interacting with at least one cat. Some prefer to take a nap during your appointment, while others want to play or be held. There was a good mixture of kittens and adult cats, but we visited during summer (aka kitten season), so I think the ratio leaned heavily younger.
All of the cats were extremely well taken care of, and the owners/associates did a great job of ensuring everyone followed the rules and no one was aggravating the cats. And I know you’re wondering “How bad must that place smell? Is there cat hair everywhere?” And I have to say I was so impressed at how clean it was and how normal it smelled. They do a good job of separating out the food/water and litter boxes so everything is in the best place. There was also plenty of seating and toys, all spaced out nicely, so the cats and guests had plenty of room to roam.
Overall, it was a great way to spend an hour on vacation between lunch and dinner reservations. I felt great knowing that our visit fee goes to keeping shelter cats alive, and playing with adorable kittens put me in such a good mood the rest of the day!