Hello, kitties! For a fee, you can get coffee and play with adoptable cats at new cafe

Need some kitty love with your coffee? A new midtown cafe will be the place to get your fix.

And you may even find your new forever feline friend.

Whiskers Cat Cafe will softly open Friday with foster cats from the KC Pet Project, Kansas City’s largest no-kill shelter. For $10, customers get a cup of fresh coffee brewed in-house in collaboration with Messenger Coffee Co., and an hour to spend playing with free-roaming kittens and cats in the Cat Lounge.

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Whiskers Cat Cafe is at 3705 Southwest Trafficway. Art is one of two resident cats at the cafe. Guests can make online reservations to visit the cafe at whiskerskc.com.

SUSAN PFANNMULLER Special to the Star

“I’ve been an animal lover my whole life. I love cats, dogs, birds, everything,” said Audrey Boese, owner and founder of Whiskers with her fiance, John Thompson. “Cat cafes have been proven to work. And sometimes (cats) can be overlooked in shelters, too, so it’s kind of fun to give them an opportunity to have the spotlight a little bit.”

According to reports, the first cat cafe opened in Taiwan about two decades ago. Now cat cafes are opening across the country, including Java Cats Cafe in Atlanta.

Boese and Thompson first launched a Kickstarter campaign for their cat cafe in mid-2016 and received more than $20,000 from more than 260 backers.

They have since held three pop-up events that helped cats get adopted and gave Boese and Thompson an opportunity to fine-tune their concept. For example, they decided to take reservations so as not to stress out the cats with too many people. They also have private “retreat” rooms where the cats can take a break.

They also consulted with animal behavioral specialists on the space’s function and design. The cats have climbing towers, a suspension bridge and other places to get up high, fluffy rugs and blankets, hideaways and scratching surfaces (both vertical and horizontal to work different muscles).

Whiskers Cat Cafe is a for-profit business, but adoption fees go directly to KC Pet Project. Revenues from the sale of coffee and other merchandise, such as cat toys, will pay for supplies, marketing, insurance, rent, salaries and utilities.

It currently has 10 cats — from 4-month-old Cedar to 8-year-old Art (one of two house cats not up for adoption).

At a pre-opening event Monday, four cats piled on and around employee Kaitlyn Austin in a front lounge area, while others looked on from high perches.

“You are surrounded by cats. But they are all different — sometimes super cuddly and sometimes chasing a feather toy,” Boese said. “They are super lovable and we want everyone to have a great experience.”

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Kaitlyn Austin, a Whiskers Cat Cafe supervisor, cuddled with Rachel, an 8-month-old kitten up for adoption, during a media preview on Nov. 19.

SUSAN PFANNMULLER Special to the Star

Whiskers Cat Cafe is in a vintage strip center at 3705 Southwest Trafficway, near Freshwater restaurant.

While the front of Whiskers is along bustling Southwest Trafficway, customers enter the coffee shop through the back parking lot.

Opening hours:

Nov. 23: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., then the cats get a nap before it reopens from 4 to 7 p.m.

Nov. 24: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then from 1 to 2 p.m. for children ages 10 and under.

Nov. 25: Noon to 4 p.m.

Regular hours will be 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday starting Nov. 28. Make reservations at whiskerskc.com.

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Whiskers Cat Cafe charges guests $10 for some coffee and an hour to spend with the kitties.

SUSAN PFANNMULLER Special to the Star

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