by Ryan Pivoney
“It’s a really welcoming, relaxing place for people,” Liz Doty, the storefront manager of Mauhaus Cat Cafe and Lounge, said. “We have all sorts of people come in here and it’s really cool to see everybody’s stress just instantly melt away as soon as they hang out with the cats.”
Doty said the owners of the cafe experienced cat cafes while on vacation in Thailand, and brought the idea home. The owners already owned the building, and Doty said they thought a cat cafe would be different and successful in St. Louis. After starting a Kickstarter campaign and identifying an adoption agency to work with, they got to work.
Mauhaus is partnered with Stray Haven Rescue shelter, so the cafe acts as a foster for adoptable cats.
“A lot of cat cafes overseas [the cats] are not necessarily up for adoption, they’re just kind of exotic cats that live there all the time that people can’t adopt,” Doty said. “This a nice way for people to meet kitties and help them find homes.”
Currently, Mauhaus has 11 adoptable cats and two resident cats — Lorelai and Taylor — that are not adoptable. 2-4 cats are adopted from Mauhaus Cat Cafe each week and the cafe has helped more than 280 cats find homes since it opened in 2016.
To adopt, customers must complete an online application at the Stray Haven Rescue website, then the rescue performs a background check and if approved, the application is sent to Mauhaus. From there, Mauhaus Lounge Manager Mila Wofford sets up an interview with the potential new cat owners.
Wofford said the biggest thing is that Mauhaus offers is a solution for homeless cats. According to Wofford, St. Louis has a large feral cat population, so the cafe’s work with Stray Haven Rescue helps to reduce the feral population and keep cats out of kill shelters.
“While you can go to a shelter and look at a cat through a kennel, you don’t really get to know their personality and this is a way for people to interact with these cats and actually get to learn their personalities,” Doty, who adopted her two cats — Milo and KitKat — from Mauhaus, said. “All of these cats have had really rough lives, so we want to make sure that these cats are going to the right forever home and not just any home.”
The cafe is fairly steady with hundreds of people coming in throughout the week. Doty said the cafe is particularly popular among students, because the lounge provides an accessible place to study and do homework.
“It’s nice to kind of step away from reality for a minute and just be in the world of cats,” Doty said.
Mauhaus has a few policies customers must abide by while in the lounge. Volume must be kept fairly low and the cats cannot be picked up or fed, but they can be petted and played with.
Doty said most of the policies are common sense and are in place for the protection of the cats. Some of the rescued cats might not be receptive to being handled and some customers might not be experienced with interacting with cats.
Wofford said most of the time customer interactions with the cats are fairly standard. However, she said she once watched someone lick a cat, but she doesn’t condone that behavior.
Doty said as the first in Missouri, Mauhause formed a lot of the rules other cat cafes also use.
“Occasionally, the cat becomes really invested in the person as well and there’s an obvious connection,” Wofford said. “It’s really sweet to watch that.”
According to Operation Stop Pet Overpopulation Today data filed with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, a total of 19,402 cats were admitted to animal shelters, contract kennels, municipal pounds and rescue groups around St. Louis City and County in 2018.
Stray Haven Rescue and Mauhaus Cat Cafe are working to reduce this number by finding cats, all of which are spayed or neutered and up to date on shots, forever homes.
“You can tell when they’ve found their person,” Doty said. “They know when they found their families and when they’re going home. It’s really magical and crazy how it works out.”
For more information about Mauhaus Cat Cafe’s hours, menu, and adoptable cats, visit mauhauscafe.com.