Buckminster’s Cat Café will join a growing list of new businesses making a home on Niagara Street when it opens its doors in late 2018. Owner, Molly Hutton says that, “Buffalo’s first cat café will be part neighborhood coffee shop and part cat adoption facilitator. Buckminster’s will be an appealing space for humans to relax, socialize, or study, as well as offer a unique habitat for the free movement of cats.” The Café will be located on the ground floor at 577 Niagara Street. Hutton is currently spending much of her time working with the design team Davidson Rafailidis and building owner, Giles Kavanagh.
“Design will be a quintessential part of the experience, one that enables the respectful cohabitation of cats and humans,” says Hutton, adding that “the bifurcated interior will feature a cat interaction zone and food preparation area. There will also be a secured back “catio” (cat-patio) where customers and cats can socialize outdoors in nice weather.”
As part of building out the cat café, Kavanagh will also be renovating and redeveloping the whole building, which will eventually include office space on the upper floor.
Popularity of cat cafés is still rising across the U.S. beginning in 2014 with Oakland’s Cat Town Café. The trend officially originated in Japan and quickly spread to around the world. Although, one could say that the idea of cats in cafés goes back centuries to when cats were first “invited” into our homes and businesses.
There is a joke among cat-lovers that says, the Ancients Egyptians once revered cats as gods on earth, and they have never let us forget it. A Smithsonian article, titled “ A Brief History of House Cats,” comments on the evolution of the cat and human relationship by saying,
When humans were predominantly hunters, dogs were of great use, and thus were domesticated long before cats. Cats, on the other hand, only became useful to people when we began to settle down, till the earth and—crucially—store surplus crops. With grain stores came mice, and when the first wild cats wandered into town, the stage was set for what the Science study authors call “one of the more successful ‘biological experiments’ ever undertaken.” The cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses; people were delighted by the pest control.
“We think what happened is that the cats sort of domesticated themselves,” Carlos Driscoll, one of the study authors, told the Washington Post. The cats invited themselves in, and over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this new environment, producing the dozens of breeds of house cats known today. In the United States, cats are the most popular house pet, with 90 million domesticated cats slinking around 34 percent of U.S. homes.
Buckminster’s Cat Café looks to serve all cat-loving customers by partnering with a local cat rescue organization to populate the cat zone with adoptable cats, and will provide a unique, non-shelter-like atmosphere in which prospective adopters can interact with cats in need of a forever home.
In addition, the cat café will allow customers who cannot have cats of their own, or those who simply enjoy being around animals in a public setting, the opportunity to interact with feline friends in a fun and comfortable environment complete with food and drink. As is the model of most cat cafés, those wishing to enjoy cat time will pay a small cover charge to enter the cat zone, which covers the costs of caring for the animals.
Hutton explains that “the side of the café where food and drink are served will be cat-free and self-contained so that anyone can come in for a cup of coffee or snack — even the cat-averse! Refreshments can also be carried through into the shared area to enjoy while lounging with the cats. The café will serve quality coffees and teas, as well as a menu of fresh, locally-made baked goods and snacks.”
Eventually, Buckminster’s plans to add beer and wine to their menu as well. There will also be a selection of cat-related gifts and supplies.
Buckminster’s Cat Café is named after the owner’s cat, whose Instagram account (@buckminstercat) currently has over 10,000 followers, and whose story has been featured on various cat blogs. “My interest in starting this cat café has many sources of inspiration, from my lifelong love of cats through to my education as an art historian,” Hutton says, “The skills that I developed over a professional career of working as a curator with art and artists will infuse the current project, from the attention to design details right down to the selection of vintage and handmade artifacts that will be available for sale.”
Buckminster was adopted 5 years ago from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, Hutton shares her home with him and two other cats, also adopted from local shelters.
“I have been impressed by the growth of small, passion-driven businesses since I arrived in Buffalo in 2007, as well as the growth of a customer base to support unique experiences. The innovative spirit of the residents and the entrepreneurial opportunities the city affords are a perfect fit for this combination of a venture that serves the needs of animal rescue and welfare while providing a place of human repose that also offers a therapeutic encounter.”