CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - On Wednesday, patrons poured in to a new cafe in Tremont called affoGATO after its mission to help people meet and adopt cats in need of new homes.
The cafe sells the traditional coffee and pastries, locally sourced from the Cleveland area. However, it offers something extra. In a separate room, across the glass from the cafe, you can meet cats up for adoption from the Cleveland Animal Protective League.
So-called “cat cafes” first became popular in Japan, and there are many across the U.S., but this is the first one in Northeast Ohio.
"I hope it just helps get cats adopted and limits the APL's numbers, because it's easier for people to experience the cats here and see them out in the open than in cages so it'll help get adoption rates up," said new employee Cat Crespo.
Up to 16 cats can live at affoGATO at one time, but there are only about half that many now. To interact with the cats, you’ll go into a separate room, set apart from the main cafe.
A $10 donation is required, which goes to help feed and shelter the cats. The cats themselves are all from the APL, which helps decide which animals might be best suited to the environment of a cat cafe.
On the first day, all the available slots were already filled. Lauren Siffert came with her mother and sister.
“I think it’s pretty bomb,” she said. “I love cats.”
Because food and beverages are sold at the cafe, affoGATO has taken several steps to ensure proper hygiene. The cats never venture into the cafe part of the building, and the two areas have different HVAC systems. Furthermore, no employees who handle food can go into the cat area during their shifts.
"Just to make sure there's no food, the baristas having cat hair on them when they're making food," said Crespo.
To make a reservation, visit affoGATO’s website.