It’s been one year since Katie Palumkura and her husband, Abarsh Palumkura, opened the Happy Cat Cafe and they couldn’t be more proud of their business.
“We have definitely learned a lot within the past year as far as what works and what doesn’t,” said Katie Palumkura. “A lot of things happen behind the scenes that people don’t see, like what personality of cats do we want to bring in, changing our hours and our marketing strategy. We adapt to what people are looking for.”
But just like every business, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. The couple wanted to open a coffee shop in the cafe as well but haven’t been able to finish that yet.
“We still want to open the coffee shop but what we’ve learned is that people are really here for the cats,” said Palumkura. “They don’t really care about the beverages as much. It’s not something we are casting aside, it’s something that we still want to do but we want to do it right and we don’t want to rush it.”
When you come in for a standard visit, which is $10 per person, you are still able to enjoy a beverage of your choice, including soda, coffee or water.
“We know that people are okay with waiting [for the coffee shop] because they really know that it’s about the cats,” Palumkura said. “It’s about coming in and playing with them and it’s also about getting them adopted. We are both still learning and our goal is to make the best guest experience possible every day.”
Palumkura, who works full-time at the cat cafe, says it has been crazy kitten season this year as far as rescuing them goes. The Happy Cat Cafe works with a nonprofit rescue organization called Carol’s Ferals. They had over 100 kittens this year and a lot of them were in foster care. The Happy Cat Cafe was hoping to reach its goal of 100 cats adopted before its one year anniversary on Aug. 17.
“Our goal was to make 100 adoptions and we got 98 and I’m happy with that,” she said.
The adoption fee for one cat is $95 and the fee of two cats is $145. They all come either spade or neutered, microchipped, up to date on all vaccinations, and negative tests results for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
The Happy Cat Cafe also offers a lot of activities and events for people to enjoy.
“The best way to ever visit us is to go on our website because we do online reservations, but there is also our event calendar so if you want to go to a specific event, you can find out when it is,” said Palumkura.
You can try cat yoga, which includes a social period after the class to hang out with the cats, or henna with cats, which includes one or two hours with the cats and one or two henna tattoos.
“There is also a cats and canvas event, which is our painting class,” said Palumkura. “You can come in and paint cat related stuff. That’s a fun class because the cats are super interactive and they want to check out what you are doing.”
There is also cats and crafts, which is similar to cats and canvas but attendees make Pinterest related crafts. You can also do a private date night as a couple or with a friend.
“Once a month we do a deal for two people and you get a bottle of sparkling grape juice and treats and you get the whole room to yourself and the cats for an hour,” said Palumkura.
You can also host a private party. Happy Cat hosts birthday parties, bachelorette parties, or any kind of party that you want. All of the events are held in the kitten room.
Palumkura, who owns two cats herself, No Bake and Snickerdoodle, definitely thinks the cafe has impacted the pet community in a positive way.
“I know we are definitely educating a lot of people,” she said. “Carol’s Ferals’ mission is to end feline overpopulation in West Michigan and that’s through education. A lot of people come in and they don’t know what a feral cat is, so we like to educate them on that.”
There is always a volunteer in the cat room at the Happy Cat Cafe to help answer questions.
The one-year celebration took place on Friday, Aug. 17 and included activities for all ages, including getting a “cattoo” from Meteor Ink House de Tatuadora next door. Palumkura even got a tattoo live on Facebook to help celebrate the event.
Even though they were only two adoptions away from reaching their goal, Palumkura is really proud of her team and all of the volunteers.
“I’m just really proud that we have held on through the really tough times,” she said. “Just altogether, I’m really happy that Grand Rapids embraced this idea and everyone has been very supportive of us.”
*Main photo courtesy of Happy Cat Cafe. Photo gallery by Jordan Kopsky.