Michael Holloway

City’s First Cat Cafe on East Side

Will open this summer on Ivanhoe Pl. Concept is all the rage in Japan.

By - Jan 9th, 2018 03:29 pm
Katy McHugh, Owner of SIP & PURR. Photo by Ryan Peschman.

Katy McHugh, Owner of SIP & PURR. Photo by Ryan Peschman.

Architectural plans have been submitted to the City of Milwaukee for what will be Milwaukee’s first cat café. Sip & Purr is looking to open up shop on the East Side at 2021 E. Ivanhoe Pl., fittingly located near the Black Cat Alley open air art gallery. The space was previously occupied by East Side Gallery & Framing before it moved to 2414 N. Farwell Ave. If all goes according to plan, Sip & Purr will open early this summer.

The concept of cat cafes began in Taiwan, with the first one opening in Taipei in 1998. The popularity began to grow with Japanese tourists, and eventually the idea was brought back to Japan. There are now over 150 cat cafes in Japan, with their popularity due in part to strict pet rules and lack of space in Japanese housing. The popularity of the cat café has spread all over the world and came to North America in 2014, with the first opening in Montreal, then one in Oakland and another in New York.

The biggest concern with opening a cat café is compliance with food safety regulations. Japanese food regulations allow for food and drink to be served in the same space that the animals occupy, but it’s a different story in the United States. Dining regulations prohibit animals on food establishment premises (with the exception of service animals). This means that most cat cafes in the US will likely have to have a separate room for their pets, which could dilute the experience for some.

Sip & Purr was conceived by owner Katy McHugh during a stay in Amsterdam where a particularly friendly cat at a café inspired her to start her own cat café back home. Sip & Purr will serve food, coffee, and wine in a bar area separated from the cats. Worried about getting attached to the furry felines? Not a problem. All cats at Sip & Purr will be available for adoption courtesy of a partnership with Lakeland Animal Shelter. All cats are ready for adoption, and have been spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and medically tested and treated.

Oh, and keep an eye out for cat-related events such as yoga with cats.

7 thoughts on “City’s First Cat Cafe on East Side”

  1. Jerry says:

    Nice idea. I first experienced a “cat cafe” in Costa Rica in 2013. It was a fun experience to have a kitty come out of nowhere and want to cuddle. Wish the U.S. wasn’t so ‘uptight’ about the rules of mixing the atmosphere. If Europe and Japan can do it without issues, why are we different? I also like the fact that there are many dog friendly restaurants in Germany.

  2. Cinnamon says:

    coool! i want a cat cafe, what an awsome idea

  3. MollyO says:

    I would definitely patronize a cat cafe.
    Hopefully, some compromise will allow food.
    There won’t be hundreds of cats, just a few.

  4. Christina Zawadiwsky says:

    Great idea! But I’d really like a DOG Cafe in Milwaukee!

  5. CW says:

    So, why are they bringing in cats all the way from Delevan? That’s where Lakeland Animal Shelter is located. There are PLENTY of cats right here in Milwaukee which are in need of adoption.

    I’ve contacted Sip & Purr with this question, but they don’t seem to want to respond.

  6. fightingbobfan says:

    That means cats will be walking all over the food at will.

  7. Jerry says:

    @fightingbobfan – Obviously, you have never been to one of these cat cafes. Sip & Purr will have a separate room for the cats to hang out. Read the article to inform yourself.

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