Monday, February 26, 2024

The cat’s meow: 19 felines find families after stint at Catnip Cafe

Freeda Steele, owner of the Catnip Cat Cafe in Ghent, pets one of the cats that are up for adoption. (Casey Wagner/Southside Daily)

Update: In a Friday interview, Catnip Cat Cafe owner Freeda Steel told a Southside Daily reporter that 15 cats had been adopted; however, over the weekend, four more cats found homes through the cafe. This article’s headline has been changed to reflect those adoptions.

NORFOLK — A Norfolk woman quit her day job to start a more unconventional business — and it’s paying off.

Freeda Steele, a former general contractor, opened the Catnip Cat Cafe, located at 2200 Colonial Ave., in late June.

“I heard about the cat cafes there are in Japan and I was interested,” Steele said. “My husband was really supportive and nearly three years after my initial idea, here we are.”

Patrons can sip on tea and coffee while cats from local shelters roam free throughout the two-story cafe. All cats are up for adoption.

Fifteen cats have been adopted from the Catnip Cat Cafe since it opened its doors in June. (Casey Wagner/Southside Daily)

So far, 15 shelter cats have found homes since the cafe opened.

The Catnip Cat Cafe currently has 19 cats available for adoption— including a brand new kitten from the Norfolk SPCA. Cats live in the cafe full-time until they are adopted.

Steele also offers painting and yoga classes several times a month at the cafe.

“The cats are social,” Steele said. “They roam around the room while we paint or have yoga classes.”

Although business is going well, Steele said opening the cafe wasn’t without challenges.

“It’s going well,” Steele said. “It was hard to get started, though… I think North Carolina is getting one soon, but other than that there aren’t many in the area.”

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