The Closest Cat Cafe to Walt Disney World

Orlando has been waiting eagerly for a cat cafe for a long time, and it has been a long time since the original groundbreaking and open house party for the Orlando Cat Cafe. But the wait is over, and I was fortunate to visit the cat cafe near Walt Disney World less than a week after it opened.

Orlando Cat Cafe sign

The first confusing thing about the Orlando Cat Cafe is that you don’t enter through the cat cafe itself. That door on the front is sealed to prevent escaping cats.

Orlando Cat Cafe exterior

Instead, you enter through Axum Coffee, next door. At first glance, Axum looks like a regular coffee shop inside.

Axum Coffee interior at Orlando Cat Cafe

But you quickly notice a large window into the storefront next door where the cats are.

Orlando Cat Cafe window from Axum Coffee

After you pay for your entrance at the coffee bar, you get a sticker to wear that identifies your assigned time with the cats. When it is your assigned time, you enter a door into vestibule between the two storefronts. The door is so close to the front of the coffee shop that it is hard for the staff to control access to it while also tending the coffee bar. That probably wasn’t thought out as well as they hoped.

Once you enter the tiny room between the two storefronts, you get instructions from a staffer from South Lake Animal League about the cats: no chasing, no picking up, no flash photography.

Orlando Cat Cafe admission door

After I entered the cat area, there was a nearly-immediate demonstration of why they used the vestibule for entry and exit as a Siamese-type cat who was in the cafe made a break for the door only to be caught by the staffer.

Orlando Cat Cafe jailbreak

For anyone who wasn’t listening carefully, the rules of the cafe are posted on the wall inside, too.

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The cafe serves as an off-site adoption center for the South Lake Animal League, so they provide a way to sign up for newsletters from the organization on site.

Orlando Cat Cafe interior

There is also a bulletin board that tells you more about the adoptable cats currently in the cafe. There were two cats who had just arrived, and their fliers weren’t up yet.

Orlando Cat Cafe adoptable cat flyers

Cat litter is tidily kept out of sight in a staff-only area, and cats can access it through a cat door. I’m not sure why the symbol for the male cat has no eyes. Maybe he is mid-blink.

Orlando Cat Cafe litterbox door

The place makes really good use of vertical space on the walls, with walkways, shelves, and cubbyholes mounted directly to the walls to make space for the cats to rest or observe.

Orlando Cat Cafe adoptable black cat

There were also some very nice cat trees scattered around the room for the cats to climb. This little guy really wasn’t sure about making the leap down to the next level of the cat tree.

Orlando Cat Cafe brown tabby kitten jumping down

Since it was mid-afternoon, I caught a lot of cats during naps.

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While I was visiting, a volunteer from the animal rescue league arrived to give the staffer on site a lunch break. The volunteer was a retiree, and I thought it was interesting that she was wearing a “Team Dog” t-shirt. Thankfully, the cats couldn’t read to be offended by it.

Orlando Cat Cafe adoptable black kitten

While I was taking a photo of this kitten, a retired woman with no sticker indicating she had paid to be in the cafe let herself in the door. As I mentioned above, the location of the entry door isn’t well-controlled in the coffeeshop, and that makes it fairly easy for someone to wander in. The retiree asked the volunteer if she had to pay if she just wanted to look around. “If you’re going to stay,” the volunteer replied.

Orlando Cat Cafe adoptable brown tabby cat

A moment later, the retired lady asked, “So are they all declawed and everything?” It’s a good thing my back was to the conversation, because I am sure my expression wasn’t neutral. The dog-shirted volunteer said something about only if they arrive declawed. What a missed opportunity for education!

The retired lady wandered out and I continued taking photos. A few minutes later, she was back, this time with her husband, who also didn’t have on a sticker indicating he had paid admission, either. They circulated around a few more minutes before leaving. I’m sure the newly-opened cafe will find a better way to monitor the entrance door, or work with the volunteers on how ask people to leave who haven’t paid their fee, but it was interesting to see the early growing pains of the place.

Orlando Cat Cafe adoptable black and white cat

The original staffer emerged from the back room a little later, and I took the opportunity to ask her about whether they had seen adoptions from the cafe yet. “We’re still going through lots of applications,” she told me.

Orlando Cat Cafe adoptable colorpoint cat

I think this could become a valuable adoption location for the rescue organization, and I recognize that when I was there, they had only been open 5 days. It takes longer than that to get everyone trained in the processes and procedures.

In the meantime, it’s a fun place to visit to say hello to the cats available for adoption. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love! I’m sure it will also be popular with Disney visitors who miss their cats back home, since it is the closest cat cafe to Walt Disney World.

Orlando Cat Cafe interior signage

Just be careful when you leave. They already have one escape artist cat, and you don’t want to be the one who lets her out!

Getting to the Orlando Cat Cafe

Although the Orlando Cat Cafe says they are “about 4 miles west of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” that distance is only useful if you are a bird. The rest of us have to use streets!

Orlando Cat Cafe sign

How Far is It?

The closest Disney resort to the Orlando Cat Cafe is Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the drive is 7.9 miles, so walking isn’t a realistic option to see the cats.

If you are staying somewhere else on Disney’s vast property, the distance could be much farther. The Contemporary Resort, close to Magic Kingdom, is a 14.5 mile drive.

Resorts around SeaWorld are about 16 miles and Universal-area resorts are around 19 miles away, so set aside travel time accordingly.

Transportation Options to the Orlando Cat Cafe

The easiest way to get to the Orlando Cat Cafe is to drive. If you arrived on vacation by air and didn’t rent a car, you’ll need ground transportation. Taxi service in Orlando tends to be expensive, and the biggest local transportation company’s fare estimator says that a trip from Disney’s Contemporary resort to the Orlando Cat Cafe will cost a $39.06 fare one-way.

cats drive on vacation. photo credit: depositphotos/funny_cats

A less-expensive option is Uber, which estimates  $15-19 each way to get from Disney’s Contemporary Resort to the Orlando Cat Cafe. If you haven’t tried Uber before, you can sign up through this invitation link to get $10 free credit for your first ride with them (disclosure: I also get credit if you do).

The least expensive option is using the local Lynx bus system, at $2 each direction. Plan for up to two hours travel time due to transfers. You can use the Plan a Trip function on the Lynx site to see the bus schedules available for your visit.


Photo credit: depositphotos/funny_cats

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Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week 2016

Adoption of less-adoptable cats is a cause close to our hearts because Ashton is a less-adoptable cat. So for Flashback Friday, we are bringing back a reminder about Adopt a Less-Adoptable Pet Week.

I may look different, but I'm prefect. Adopt a less-adoptable pet.

According to a PetFinder survey, 99% of shelters and rescue organizations have pets they are having difficulty placing in good homes. These “less-adoptable” pets fall into several categories.

Less Adoptable Cat Types

Senior Cats

Many adopters decide against senior cats because they are adopting after losing a previous pet, and they don’t want to imagine that happening again for a very long time. The thought of losing a senior cat to old age in only a few years makes them choose to adopt younger cats. Adopters may also be afraid of senior cats developing expensive medical conditions with their advanced age.

gray_tabby_rexWith the aging of the baby boom generation, a growing number of senior pets who lived their entire lives with a single human find themselves homeless when their human who becomes unable to take care of them due to their own age-related issues or even because of their human’s death. When the remaining family members are unable to care for the cat, frightened, disoriented senior pets don’t appear to be good potential companions and are harder to adopt.

Given time to settle into a new home, seniors can make wonderful, loving companions, great for adopters who want a cat to cuddle with but don’t want to have to wear a young cat out with a lot of exercise and play every day.

Shy Cats

Like the frightened senior pets mentioned above, shy cats don’t warm up to potential adopters when they come to a shelter or rescue organization to look for a new companion. Shy cats don’t “show well,” and their shyness can look like aggression when they are especially afraid at adoption events. The same cat that hisses at a potential adopter when being pulled out of the safety of his cage at an adoption event will come out of his shell after being given more time to warm up to strange humans, but it’s hard for the shy cat to get the chance to let his personality shine.

Shy cats can blossom in foster homes, but it can be hard for a potential adopter to take a shelter’s word that the cat cowering in their litterbox will be friendly and outgoing in their home environment once they have time to adjust to new surroundings.

Special Needs Cats

There are many types of special needs cats, like diabetic cats or cats that need special diets for ongoing conditions. Each of these may worry potential adopters because they aren’t sure if they understand what care the cat will need, even though the extra care is often minimal. Education is key to understanding how much or little care a special need cat will require.

meowing silver tabbyOne of the most common conditions that causes cats to be considered special needs is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), found commonly among stray cats. While there is a lot of lingering fear and misunderstanding about the transmission of this virus, studies have shown that friendly FIV-positive and negative cats live together without transmitting the disease. While FIV-positive cats should see their vet more promptly at any sign of illness, they can also live long, happy lives with their human and feline families. Still, lingering fear and misunderstanding make these cats harder to adopt.

Imperfect Cats

Many cats are simply imperfect. Even though they need no extra care, they may be missing an eye like our Ashton or a leg like our Cousin Earl. Others might have tattered ears or visible scars. These imperfections are usually from a previous mishap, and the cats simply aren’t as appealing to potential adopters on sight.

These different-looking cats are just as wonderful companions as their two-eyed or four-legged companions, but they are often overlooked because they don’t have as much “curb appeal” as unblemished cats.

Bonded Pairs

Cats who are relinquished to a shelter or rescue together sometimes turn to each other for comfort. It’s no wonder that the rescue organization decides that they must go to a home together so that they can continue to rely on each other for solace during stressful transitions and play together during joyful times. Not everyone wants to adopt two cats, or if they do, they may not want the particular combination of personalities, colors, or other characteristics that the bonded pair represents.

two longhaired cats

Bonded pairs of cats, with each other to help their confidence, may adapt more quickly to new situations then they would alone, but some adopters still hesitate.

Cats Who Must be “Onlies”

At the other end of the spectrum, cats who must go to homes with no other cats can take longer to adopt because the most likely adopters already have one or more cats. Some only cats also need to be the only pet in the home so they can’t join a household with dogs or other pets, either. This limits their potential pool of adopters and keeps them at the shelter or rescue group longer.

These “only” cats bond closely to their human family members, especially since they have no other feline companions.

Black Cats

People who work in shelters and rescues continue to report that black cats with wonderful personalities take longer to adopt than their more colorful counterparts. Black cats may not show well in the muted light of cages in shelters or may be victims of superstitions about their being unlucky. Anyone who has lived with a black cat can report that they are anything but unlucky, but are great companions with winning personalities.

black cat

What Shelters Are Doing to Help

Most shelters work to get their less-adoptable pets extra attention, knowing that they are going to take more families considering them than average before one decides that they have found the perfect companion.

Some shelters and rescues offer programs that help defray the potential costs of medical care that might put people off of adopting seniors or special needs cats. Others offer foster-to-adopt arrangements so that shy cats have time to come out of their shell in a home environment and show their potential adopter what loving companions they can be.

A number of shelters are also working hard to find innovative ways to help seniors keep their less-adoptable pets, serve as long-term foster homes, and adopt senior pets of their own.

Shelter outreach and programs alone won’t help place all of their less-adoptable pets. The next time you’re looking for a new family member, think beyond a kitten to a less-adoptable cat who could be a perfect fit for your family!


References and further reading:

Petfinder, Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week
The Veterinary Journal, Transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) among cohabiting cats in two cat rescue shelters

Photo credit: depositphotos/cynoclub

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Visiting Koneko, a Japanese Cat Cafe in NYC

As I mentioned on Monday, my trip to New York City included visiting a cat cafe, Koneko. In fact, I ended up visiting it twice!

A visit to Koneko, a Cat Cafe in NYC

I scheduled my arrival to NYC to be early in the day so I could meet up with a local friend who is also a cat lover, and we went to Koneko together. That was my very first cat cafe visit. The next day, I went back with the rest of the BlogPurr event attendees. Photos on this page are from both visits.

Walking down Clinton Street on the lower east side of New York, a modest sign above one storefront hints that there are cats inside.

Sign, Koneko cat cafe NYC

The overhead sign is so modest that when the cat cafe is open to the general public, a sidewalk sign beckons you inside with the magic words: adoptable kitties.

Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC Sign

The cafe itself is a single storefront’s width, serving wonderful coffee and tasty, Japanese snacks. Try the green cheesecake… it isn’t wasabi pie, even though I joked that it might be.

Interior of Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

All of the decor is themed around the real guests of honor at the cat cafe, like the sign on the restroom.

Restroom sign, Koneko cat cafe NYC

At the back of the cafe is a glass-fronted cattery. The glass separates the food-serving area from the area of the cafe reserved for the cats.

Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

When you enter the vestibule for the cattery, you take off your shoes and just wear your socks. If you don’t have socks, the cafe supplies slippers. This prevents cross-contamination of the cattery area. You also learn about the important rules for visiting the cat cafe.

Rules sign, Koneko cat cafe NYC

Inside the cattery, 20 adoptable cats from Angellicle Cats Rescue roam free in three different areas. Or instead of roaming, many of them sleep.

Aditi, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

It’s amazing how relaxed some of the cats are with strangers wandering through. These adoptable cats will be remarkably well-socialized when they go home with new families.

Fifi, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

Some people would think that having 20 cats in a confined space would be dirty or smelly, but the cattery is spotless. Cat litter boxes are tucked discreetly away behind cat doors labeled to identify what is on the other side. I doubt the cats actually read the signage, but it’s really cute.

Litterbox door, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

There are two separate indoor areas of the cafe, connected by a stairway. The cats don’t have to take the stairway meant for the humans. They have their own, private opening between floors. Downstairs, they can use wall-mounted shelving to make their way down from their private catwalk.

Hikaru hops down wall-mounted shelves, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

There are plenty of places for cats to scratch, stretch, and engage with visitors.

Hikaru, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

There are also plenty of high shelves and places the cats can get away from visitors if they aren’t in the mood for being bothered.

Paris, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

This cat, Cello, had just arrived at Koneko that day and was already playing with visitors.

Cello, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

The cafe’s outdoor catio has an impressive mural, representing lots of cats from pop culture.

Mural at Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

More cats seem to congregate on the catio than indoors, enjoying the fresh air.

Paris, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

Outside, they do some of the same things they do indoors, like sleep.

Tiger-T, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

But the real attraction is the falling leaves and pigeons that land on the fire escapes above.

Cats watching birds, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

The catio keeps the cats safe while they enjoy the fresh air and the sights.

Tiger-T, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

What better way to fall in love with an adoptable cat then watching her chatter at birds?

Scoop, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

While cat cafes started as ways for people without cats to spend time with cats, being able to meet cats in the cafe who you can fall in love with and bring home is a wonderful alternative to cats spending extended time in cages while they wait to find homes.

Robin, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

In fact, during my visit to Koneko, the staff told me that this cat was getting ready to go to his new adoptive home that evening. Coffee, cats, and happy endings all under one roof!

Duke, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC

Getting to Koneko

Koneko is on the lower east side of Manhattan in New York City. The closest subway stop is the 2nd Ave stop of the F line. From there, walk east on Houston Street and turn right on Clinton Street. You will find Koneko at 26 Clinton Street. Look for the sign with their emoticon-style logo over the door.

Fifi, Koneko Cat Cafe, NYC


Disclosure: My travel costs to the BlogPurr event were paid by Merck Animal Health.

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Cat Writers in New York City for BlogPurr

Last week, I went to New York City for an event called BlogPurr. Merck brought together veterinarians, a cat behavior expert, and a small panel of cat writers to discuss issues specific to feline wellness and advocacy.

blogpurr_01_wm

You’ll be reading more about topics the sessions touched on in the future, but today I wanted to share a little overview of the event itself.

The morning’s lineup of speakers began with author Amy Shojai, who writes about feline behavior. She turned the tables a little bit and instead of just discussing feline behavior, she led a discussion of human behavior, especially how we all interact online.

Amy Shojai speaks at BlogPurr

We discussed how there are so many different personality types among cats, and among humans, too, and how that is reflected in the way we interact online. It was great to be reminded that there are people reading who are too intimidated to comment and join the conversation, and that we need to make sure everyone has a voice in the discussion so that everybody is heard.

The second speaker was Dr. Margie Scherk, who founded the first ever feline-only veterinary practice and is now an international speaker and writer on veterinary topics. I was blown away by her amazing of energy and passion about cats and their care!

Dr. Margie Scherk speaks at BlogPurr

She opened by talking about how there are so millions more cats than dogs here in the US. I had no idea that there are nearly twice the number of cats as there are dogs in Canada. Our friends north of the border love cats more than we do! Yet with so many more cats than dogs living in our homes, cats get to the vet much less frequently, and the number is decreasing.

She shared some really interesting numbers about some of the excuses people give for why their cats don’t make it in to see the vet, including 60% saying their cat “hates” the vet visit, and 39% only willing to visit if their cat is sick. Cats are great at hiding illnesses, and humans aren’t very good at seeing the subtle signs of a sick cat. That makes preventative care even more important so that the cat doesn’t get sick in the first place or the illness is caught early during a routine visit.

One of my favorite things about the sessions at BlogPurr is that they didn’t talk down to us as non-veterinarians about veterinary topics. Hearing a vet say to a non-veterinary audience that  veterinarians and their team members are often less comfortable working with cats than dogs was really refreshing, since it took me years of trying to convince myself I was imagining exactly that.

Veterinarians are now learning how to make their practices more cat friendly, including less-threatening exam rooms and helping cats be less fearful when they are at the vet. Since so much of what is perceived as “bad” behavior at the vet comes from a cat being afraid, this can make a big difference in your cat’s experience at the vet… which means it is a better experience for you, too.

During Dr. Scherk’s talk, she spotted a cat watching her from a window across the street. I hope that kitty learned something from her talk about why going to the vet was important!

Tuxedo cat looks out window, New York City

A third talk was by Dr. Cathy Lund, who has an all-feline practice, City Kitty, in Providence, Rhode Island. I had no idea how much people can be in denial about fleas and ticks. Sure, fleas are embarrassing, but Dr. Lund has had clients tell her that their cat can’t have fleas because they live in a nice neighborhood. Some people really don’t understand that it can happen to anyone.

Cathy Lund and Amy Shojai at BlogPurr

Dr. Lund also explained what a huge fear of tick-borne illness there is in her part of the country. It’s bad enough that people surrender their cats to shelters out of fear of catching diseases from ticks! Obviously, there has to be some solution that helps keep these cats in their homes by calming the fears of the humans they live with.

She told us about how successful the field study was at her clinic for Merck’s new Bravecto for cats and shared quotes from grateful people whose cats were part of the trial and used it to get their flea infestations under control at least. Never having heard a firsthand explanation of participating in a field study, that was really fascinating, and I can only imagine how good it must have felt to help the itchy cats and their frustrated families.

This was followed by a talk from Dr. Robert Armstrong, a veterinarian with Merck, who shared more information about the studies leading up to the new flea and tick prevention product. I laughed when one of the slides said, “People do not want to see disgusting photos.” But it’s true! How many gross photos or diagrams are used at a vet’s office to try to explain things to you and end up squicking you out instead?

Dr. Robert Armstrong speaks at BlogPurr

I thought it was interesting when he talked about formulating a parasite preventative that lasts three months, so it lasts through the time that flea eggs in the household environment hatch and could re-colonize your cat. My first thought was of how long it took us to get fleas under control after my mother brought her cats and dog to live with my sister. A topical treatment you don’t have to remember to apply every month like Bravecto would have been a great solution for those itchy cats.

After the talk, we broke for lunch, and then it was time to go visit the cats.

New York Public Library lion statue

No, not the New York Public Library lions! I took that photo the previous day.

The whole group went to a cat cafe. I’ll have more about that on Wednesday, so come back to see part 2 about our visit to Koneko. 


Disclosure: My travel costs to this event were paid by Merck Animal Health.

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