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Friday, February 22, 2019

affoGATO


There’s a new place in Cleveland where you can sip coffee and play with cats. It doesn’t get much better than that.

affoGATO, which opened in January in the Tremont neighborhood, is the city’s first cat cafe. I hung out there for a couple of hours on Valentine’s Day, which seemed fitting for a cat lover.

I booked a one-hour appointment online to visit the cat lounge at 4:15 p.m. Walk-ins are permitted, but reservations are encouraged. A one-hour visit costs $10 on a weekday ($8 for students) and $12 on a weekend. If you think you’re going to be a frequent visitor, you can buy a weekday pass, which gives you 10 hours in the lounge for $49. 

I got there early because my previous appointments that day didn’t take as long as I’d anticipated. That was fine, though. I enjoyed a cup of coffee, known as a Purr-over, while watching the kitties in the lounge through the window. The drinks all have cat-pun names, including French Purr-ess, Cafe Au Lay-on-your-Keyboard and, for tea drinkers, Kit-tea. There also are baked goods for sale.

Soon it was time for a quick review of the lounge rules, and then about a dozen of us were admitted for our one-hour visit. You can bring beverages and snacks into the lounge, but you are not allowed to feed the cats.

I had watched a big white-and-black cat named Cruser through the window. He was playing hard to get at first, but eventually he came down from his perch and played with a few visitors who lured him with a feather toy.

Cruser stayed up high while I was in the lounge. A female tortoiseshell cat named Fireball hid at first, but she came out for pets with some coaxing. May, a 10-year-old black cat, approached me and enthusiastically licked my hand like a puppy. She was so sweet, and knowing that black cats and senior cats often wait the longest to be adopted, I had to resist temptation. I have a two-cat limit at home.

All the cats in the cat lounge, except for resident cats Prince and Ash, are Cleveland Animal Protective League cats available for adoption. As of my visit on Feb. 14, affoGATO had adopted out 35 cats in the six weeks since it opened. Bios of the cats are on one wall. Male cats wear a bow tie on their collar and females wear flowers on theirs.

Many of the cats were willing to play and be petted during my late-afternoon visit, but some couldn’t be roused from their catnaps. There were about 10 cats out and about in the lounge when I was there. When they needed a break, they could escape into an “employees only” area through a couple of cat-shaped  holes. Some never came out of that area.

The lounge is decorated with cute cat-themed art and accessories and has toys, books and fabulous climbing and perching areas for the kitties. It is a bright, cheerful and clean space. The three owners are affoGATO’s only staff, and they have established a welcoming atmosphere for felines and humans.

Even if you aren’t interested in adopting, you can support the the cats who are waiting for a home by visiting with them in the lounge. It’s a fun, affordable way to help homeless animals.

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