Denver Cat Company is a modern cafe that bats a new yarn on cat adoption. The Denver Cat Co. cafe, founded by Sana Q. Hamelin nearly two years ago, features adoptable cats, coffee, tea and unique cat products that can’t be found anywhere else in the city.
The cafe also offers art classes with cats and cat yoga. “Once I realized that a cat cafe was actually a thing that existed overseas, especially in Japan, and increasingly in Europe, I just thought it was the most brilliant idea ever and I just became obsessed with making it happen here in Denver,” Hamelin said.
Hamelin was a practicing attorney before opening the cafe but was looking to do something new with her life. While watching the news, Hamelin learned that Purina hosted a pop-up cat cafe in New York City for four days for publicity purposes. When she realized there were no cat cafes like that in the United States, she quit her job and started Denver Cat Co. The cafe acts as a foster home for cats who typically stay for about a month before getting adopted. The idea is for the cats to engage in social activities with other cats and gain socialization skills with humans during their stay. Sometimes the cats start off shy, but eventually warm up to the other cats and people after a few days. There are typically 8 to 10 adoptable cats at the cafe, and so far there have been 195 adoptions through the cafe and counting.
Nanny Emily Johnson is a regular visitor to the cafe, often bringing the child she cares for. “We’ve been here quite a few times,” said Johnson. “I come in here by myself sometimes too. If I just want to get out of the house and read or work on something. You just hang out, and then you get a cat in your lap.” The cafe has many different seating options for its furry residents and human patrons including tables, cozy chairs in a reading corner and a couch built for cat cuddling. The cafe has a kitty oasis vibe with toys scattered all around and cat towers strategically placed for scratching, stretching and people watching.
For cats that become overwhelmed and would rather lounge without a human companion or another kitty, there is also a small ‘cats only’ room. The goal is to make the felines as comfortable as possible while integrating them with other cats and humans, ultimately making them more suitable for adoption. The cafe partners with adoption companies such as Life is Better, Paws Co. and Adams County Shelter. “We pick the ones that are more social and not happy in their cages and need to be around people,” Hamelin said. The cafe has seen cats of all ages, but they typically get more adult cats because they have a harder time getting adopted in shelters. “With adult cats, their personalities don’t often come out and here you get to know adult cats better because they are more comfortable,” Hamelin said.
“Here they are still playful, they are outgoing and more themselves. Their personalities shine because it is more like a home environment.” The adoption fees vary by cat and all the proceeds go to the shelters where the cat came from. The cafe fosters the cats at their own expense, so they do have a $5 entry fee to help them cover the costs. Denver Cat Company offers “Arts and Cats” classes hosted nearly every Saturday, and “Cat Yoga” which is hosted about twice a month. The yoga classes are generally offered in the evenings during the week, so that participants can relax and wind down after a long day at work.
There are two different art classes offered at the cafe, including an arts and cats painting class led by an instructor for $30 and a paint-a-cat open studio for $15. Both of these art classes include use of all art supplies, including canvases and acrylic paints, a free drink and free admission to the cafe.