State College

A cat cafe could be coming to State College. Here’s what needs to happen first

Georgetown cat café owners keep store open as Dorian approaches

Purr & Pour Cat Café on Front Street in Georgetown was open Thursday as residents prepared for Hurricane Dorian. Owners Steve Harms and Patricia Devine-Harms plan to stay with the six cats in an over-the-store apartment throughout the storm.
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Purr & Pour Cat Café on Front Street in Georgetown was open Thursday as residents prepared for Hurricane Dorian. Owners Steve Harms and Patricia Devine-Harms plan to stay with the six cats in an over-the-store apartment throughout the storm.

A cat cafe could be coming to State College soon, if a zoning amendment to allow overnight cat boarding passes the State College Borough Council.

Sharon Myers plans to open a cat cafe at the former Crunchee Munchees building, located at 616 W. College Ave. in the Urban Village Zoning District, which does not allow overnight animal boarding. Her proposal to amend the zoning was heard by Borough Council on Monday night.

The amendment proposal includes adding the definition of cat cafe, vaccination requirements for cats and criteria for separating the cat boarding and feeding area from the food consumption area.

Myers, an animal lover, thought a cat cafe near Penn State could be a much-needed reprieve from the stress of university life.

“I teach at Penn State so I know that the students are homesick, and they miss their animals,” she said. “I just thought it would be kind of a nice sort of stress reliever for students.”

Having fostered kittens and found them homes, she also thought a cat cafe would be a great way to get rescued cats exposure for adoption.

But Councilwoman Theresa Lafer didn’t think so. She said students may think they’re prepared to care for an animal, and find that their parents won’t let them keep the pet.

“And then (the pets) get dumped out on the street again,” she said. “I’m actually a little bit concerned that this will facilitate that particular type of behavior ... I don’t know how well a cat cafe can vet a pet owner. And that is a really serious job.”

She also said she feared that more abandoned cats would contribute to the “feral cat problem” in State College.

“So I am seriously concerned that this is a well-meaning and potentially negative idea,” she said. “It’s cute, but I don’t know that it has a good future for all of the cats, or even most of the cats, involved.”

Myers said that’s not how her cafe would work.

“I’ll be working with the (animal) rescue and they’ll be essentially vetting the people who will be adopting,” she said. “(The cat cafe) will just kind of be a place where the adoptable cats are there to play with.”

If a person is interested in adopting a cat, she said, the cafe will work with a local rescue to make sure all adoption steps like vaccinations, spaying and neutering and other routine checks have been performed on the cat. The rescue will also vet a person for household stability and ask for contact references before proceeding with adoption.

In her zoning amendment request, Myers didn’t specify a rescue she’ll work with, but in the past she has done rescue work with Pets Come First in Centre Hall.

Myers plans to serve coffee, tea and other beverages with prepared food at the cafe, while about eight to 10 cats are housed in a separate room. Patrons will be free to take their purchased food and beverages into the cat boarding area to play with them, she said.

And the decor? “It’s totally going to be cat-themed,” she said.

The west end of College Avenue “is a great location,” she said. “I mean, the huge windows, I think, will really showcase the cats, and there aren’t any cafes nearby.”

State College Borough Council voted to refer the zoning amendment to planning commission, which will either recommend or deny the plan to council to approve. Planning commission will review the amendment at its Sept. 19 meeting.

“I hope that it would be something that brings a lot of joy to the students and the cats and anyone else who wants to come,” Myers said. “I’m optimistic that it will go through.”

Sarah Paez covers Centre County communities, government and town and gown relations for the Centre Daily Times. She studied English and Spanish at Cornell University and grew up outside of Washington, D.C.
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