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"Cups and Claws" offers a relaxing environment for potential adopters

Cups and Claws
Sandy Hausman
/
Radio IQ

The market for coffee shops is highly competitive, but a Virginia couple may have an edge at their new café in Newport News. It’s called Cups and Claws, and allows customers to hang out with cats.

Kim and Phillip Zettel have always loved animals. They fostered more than 60 of them last year alone, so when it was time to retire they naturally thought of pets.

“He’s retiring after 26 years of military service, and I retired after 24 years teaching, and I had all these cats around, and I go, ‘What’s our next adventure?’ and he said, ‘Why don’t we do something with all these cats.”

They knew it was hard to gauge the character of a cat at the animal shelter, so they started planning a cat café where would-be adopters could come to relax and get acquainted in a comfortable setting. They rehabbed a storefront in a Newport News shopping center, equipping it with a record player, ping pong and air hockey for the humans and sources of possible amusement for cats.

Kim and Phillip Zettel
Sandy Hausman
/
Radio IQ
Kim and Phillip Zettel

“Underneath the booths we have little hidey holes, and then you’ll see beds up on the walls," Zettel says. "You’ll see bridges, you’ll see tunnels.”

The city and its health department apparently liked the idea and worked with the Zettels to determine how best to regulate this new enterprise.

“We’re not a restaurant. We’re not a shelter. How do you codify us?”

Admission is $13. That includes a beverage, and you can buy cat treats and sweets from a local baker before curling up in a soft chair with one of twenty cats. The Zettels are working with area animal shelters to facilitate adoptions. They also plan to offer painting and yoga classes, birthday parties and date nights.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.