Get a purr-fect meal in Mil­wau­kee

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Sarah Hauer

Cud­dle with kit­tens at city’s first Cat Cafe.

MIL­WAU­KEE – For those who love cats – and for that mat­ter, wine – Sip & Purr could be the purr­fect way to spend a day.

Mil­wau­kee is about to get its first cat cafe, a place where cus­tomers can cud­dle with kit­tens and en­joy a drink.

The cafe it­self will be cat-free when the op­er­a­tion opens June 1. Fe­lines will stay in the Cat Lounge, where cus­tomers can choose to bring their small bites and sweet treats. Cats at Sip & Purr will be avail­able for adop­tion from the Lake­land An­i­mal Shel­ter.

Sip & Purr will charge an ad­mis­sion fee for the Cat Lounge. One hour of cud­dle time is $8.48 per per­son. The price on open­ing day is higher, $21.20.

The wo­man be­hind the con­cept is Katy McHugh, who said last year that she got the idea when she went to a cafe in Am­s­ter­dam with her fam­ily in Fe­bru­ary.

“We stopped at this cafe and my kids had ice cream and I had wine while my hus­band had a beer,” she said.

“And this tabby cat that hung out in the cafe came and jumped on my lap. I was sip­ping on my wine and pet­ting her and she was just purring away.”

When McHugh fin­ished her wine, she didn’t want to leave the cat, so her so­lu­tion was to get a sec­ond glass of wine.

Sounded like a good busi­ness model.

“When we got home, I told my hus­band I wanted to open a place where peo­ple could just drink wine and pet cats,” she said.

Af­ter talk­ing to some friends and do­ing some re­search, McHugh found the an­swer: a cat cafe.

McHugh, who works as a flight at­ten­dant, took ad­van­tage of some of her ex­tended stays in other cities for work and vis­ited a hand­ful of cat cafes around the coun­try to learn how to open her own.

“They’ve told me what stuff works and what stuff doesn’t work, and I’ve been able to run with that,” she said. “I don’t know if I would have been able to do it with­out the op­por­tu­nity to go to all the cat cafes and talk to the own­ers.”

McHugh’s plans are for a cafe that, like the ones she’s ex­pe­ri­enced, fea­ture adopt­able cats that live at the cafe full time.

“The con­cept isn’t su­per-fa­mil­iar with peo­ple in Mil­wau­kee yet.

“A lot of peo­ple I tell think they can bring their own cat,” said McHugh said, who owns three cats adopted from shel­ters.

“The main pur­pose is for the cats to not stay at the cafe, but go to a lov­ing home,” McHugh added. “That’s what they de­serve.”

MIKE DE SISTI/MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Katy McHugh and Sebastian.

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