“Our goal is to provide a fun lounge-like environment with free-roaming cats who are all available for adoption,” said Katy Poitras, co-owner of the café.
The Goathouse Refuge in Pittsboro is partnering with the café to provide the cats and to handle the adoption process. Goathouse will only send cats they think will do well in the café environment.
Poitras and co-owner Ilene Speizer believe the most likely opening date for the café is around Feb. 1, but the exact date is still uncertain. The opening date depends on when construction finishes inside the café and how long it takes the cats to get acclimated.
Inside, Cat Tales will feature two separate sections — one with the café and one with the cats, which will be separated from the main café area by a large glass wall.
Food and drinks can then be brought into the cat area through a door in the glass wall, Poitras said. There will be the option to stay on the café side, away from the cats.
The setback is mostly due to complications with creating the separate spaces and construction work. Poitras said the café couldn’t fully open until the construction was approved by the Town of Chapel Hill.
Poitras also said finding the right materials for the café added to the preparation time. The N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services has regulations on the types of materials that can be used to ensure the safety of both the cats and customers.
Poitras said she is also concerned with the comfort of customers.
“Anyone who is hesitant about cats and drinks in the same space — we go overboard with cleanliness,” Poitras said.
Only 15 people will be allowed into the cat space at one time, and all surfaces will be cleaned several times a day, she said.
Even with the later opening time, Cat Tales will be the first cat café to open in the Triangle.
So far, the local community has shown a lot of support through social media, Poitras said.
"We hope to do a lot of community education and involvement about fostering and ways to help curb the kitten population," she said.
The café wants to raise awareness for the issue of cat overpopulation and how to achieve the solution.
Currently, the café has hired employees but not volunteers. Poitras suggested that those wanting to help visit The Goathouse Refuge to volunteer.
Plans for the grand opening are not finalized yet, but Poitras will provide more information once the details are solidified.
“We’re super excited to bring this concept to Chapel Hill,” Poitras said. “And after seeing the overwhelming positive response from community, we’re even more excited.”