A Fort Myers coffee shop is the newest cat shelter in town, and it just reached a big milestone.
The Cattyshack Cat Cafe hit 1,000 adoptions yesterday after over a year in business. The cafe takes in about 20 cats at a time from the Gulf Coast Humane Society and is helping to adopt them out.
Andrew Townsend, the co-owner of the cat cafe, brought the first of its kind to the area.
“While we knew there were more than enough homeless cats in SWFL to allow us to hit 1,000 adoptions, we could have never imagined the amount of support we have received from the local community,” Townsend said.
The cafe is split up between a coffee bar featuring cat-themed drinks and a cat lounge with cats that are up for adoption.
According to Townsend, feral cat colonies have been on the rise with up to 250,000 cats in Lee County alone.
“Doing some research, we realized how much help the cats needed in the community,” Townsend said.
Adopting cats at a shelter like Gulf Coast Humane Society can be disheartening for some. Dogs can be barking next door, and the cats might not be comfortable showing their true personalities. At the Cattyshack Cat Cafe located in Gulf Coast Town Center, the cats are in an inviting environment able to roam freely around the room.
“It gets the cats exposed, and it gets them seen,” Townsend said. “The matches we make with the adopters are much better than a traditional shelter. You have a much better idea of what kind of cat you are going to take home.”
Customers can choose to purchase coffee and enjoy watching the cats from afar through a glass window or choose to pay $15 to enter the lounge with their beverage.
“We wanted to have a business that had some sort of strong social mission,” Townsend said. “We knew that we wanted to do something with animals.”
Rachel Burned, a frequent customer at the cafe, spends her time between Orlando and Fort Myers for school.
“This is definitely a place that brings me back to Fort Myers,” Burned said.
The cafe has become a social media sensation on the app TikTok after Townsend began posting good morning videos of the cats. With around half a million followers and over eight million likes, the videos highlight the cause.
“We have people that will fly from other cities just to visit,” Townsend said. “That’s been a fun and interesting experience.”
Burned, who has adopted from the Gulf Coast Humane Society, grew an attachment to Mina, a black cat missing her tail.
“I like to look at cats just for fun, but this time I’m here specifically for Mina,” Burned said.
“Nine times out of ten, they are born that way,” Townsend of Mina’s tail. “If only the cats could talk, they could tell us their story.”