The Cat Café South Beach turns one

On Nov. 23 The Cat Cafe South Beach celebrated its one-year anniversary by hosting a “purrlates” class, where guests learned to stretch like a cat — with cats.

“We had such a wonderful time,” tourist Kristin Guerin said. “We had a brief meditation where you send positive energy to a cat, and receive your own peace and love back.”

After the class, owner Celyta Jackson thanked those present for supporting the cause while serving slices of a cat-themed cake. In its first year of operation, the cafe has found homes for 81 felines.

“I built this so that the cats could have a giant foster home to live in until they meet the right humans and get adopted,” Jackson said. “They can be here and make people happy in the meantime.”

The cafe partners with SOBE Cats Spay and Neuter, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the city of Miami Beach. The organization aims to humanely reduce the overpopulation of more than 100,000 stray cats on the island through Project CatSnip.  According to its website, the project consists of those who trap, feed, monitor and control the population. The cats are neutered and then released in the exact location where they were collected. Some that meet special conditions are brought to the cafe. 

“This group isn’t a rescue per se, but when [volunteers] are in the field, they find cats with potential to be happy with humans,” Jackson said. “Those they hold back are given additional veterinary care, they’re microchipped and then really carefully socialized so that they learn to get along with other cats and with humans.”

Jackson said that the cat cafe business is not profitable, however, it sustains itself by selling pastries and beverages as well as gathering donations from guests interested in entering “purradise” to play with the cats.

“We donated some money to spend 30 minutes, which is well worth the money,” said tourist Jen Hoytt. “The cats were very friendly, they were playful. They each have their own personality and it was a lot of fun to be able to spend some time with them, plus help a really good cause.”

Natalia Clement is a senior journalism student at FIU. She was born in Bogota, Colombia, but was raised in Miami. Her passion for journalism began in elementary school as a school news anchor and continued all the way into college. She enjoys written journalism the most, but also finds broadcasting interesting. She is the copy editor for Caplin News and also interns at Univision. Natalia looks forward to graduating in the summer. Her ultimate goal is to move to New York to pursue her career as a journalist.