Tucked away off of 37th and Southwest, you’ll find Whiskers KC, a cozy spot where shelves of all different heights are filled with books, games and. . .well, cats.
The first of its kind in Kansas City, this café and kitty haven has partnered up with the KC Pet Project to promote the adoption of rescue cats.
In the lounge, visitors can socialize with the cats, whether they’re looking for a fast fix or a new family member. Next door, customers can grab a cup of coffee in the Whiskers café, kept separate to preserve the health of the cats.
The first cat café opened in Taiwan in 1998, and the trend rapidly spread across Asia and Europe over the last two decades. While the popularity of cat cafés has only recently skyrocketed in the United States, Kansas City is no exception. Locals have clamored for a KC addition to the tradition for some time now, so co-founder and owner Audrey Boese took up the charge.
In early 2018, Boese and her fiancé, John Thompson, started a Kickstarter to gauge the level of community support for the café.
The pair raised $20,000 in 30 days.
“That was the turning point where we decided, ‘This has to happen,’” Boese said. “That was our answer.”
FELINE GOOD: HOW CATS CAN BOOST YOUR MOOD
The incentive behind Whiskers is two-pronged, according to Boese—not only does the operation connect cats with their forever homes, it also has a positive correlation on mood and mental health in its visitors.
“There are lots of reports that say being with cats lowers blood pressure, stress and anxiety,” Boese said. “A purring cat can calm your nerves and take you out of your daily stress; it gives you a break.”
MOVING FUR-WARD: WHISKERS In 2019
The café opened on Black Friday in November 2018. Within the first two months, Whiskers had facilitated more than 18 adoptions, which Boese says is “above and beyond.” The café currently offers weekly yoga sessions and “Kids Time,” which allows children under the age of 10 to socialize with the cats.
Down the road, Boese is eyeing a book club, private party sessions and a liquor license to serve beer and wine.
“We’ve felt tons of support from the community throughout,” Boese said. “There’s just been an amazing response.”