Photo by Lakyn Shepard.


Gatos and Beans: Alabama’s First Cat Café 


Juwayriah Wright
Contributing Writing 


Now students have the opportunity to combine a warm cup of coffee while petting catswithin a short drive away from campus. 


Gatos and Beans opened this past April after Stephen and Kelli Steward won a $10,000 second-place prize from REV Birmingham’s Big Pitch competition last November to start-up their new business. 


Kelli Steward, owner of Gatos and Beans, recognized the need for a cat café adoption concept in Alabama, as this is the first of its kind in the state.



There are no cages in Gatos & Beans and the concept allows for visitors to drink coffee and tea in one room and play with cats that roam free in the next. Photo by Lakyn Shepard.


“It is clearly a business, but the reason for the business is to help facilitate the adoptions,” Steward said. “There is an unbelievable amount of unspayed and unneutered cats in the Birmingham area, they’re everywhere. It’s just unfortunate that some people may think cats are disposable.”



The cat café offers more than just a petting session and coffee. The cats are available for adoption through Kitty Cat Haven & Rescue. There are no cages in Gatos & Beans and the concept allows for visitors to drink coffee and tea in one room and play with cats that roam free in the next.



“I feel like it would be [therapeutic], especially for students who are missing their pets,” Stewart said. “A lot of kids have to leave their family pets home, or they live in a dorm or apartment where they can’t have them. It gives them the opportunity to hang out with some animals without having to actually be responsible for them."



The cat café, in partnership with Kitty Kat Haven & Rescue, holds about nine cats at a time, though they are set to have as many as 13 within the next week, giving patrons plenty of time to coddle them and also take a look at the Gatos & Beans menu of coffee, tea and pastries.



An hour for both the adoption room and café costs only $10 and includes a beverage. The weekends are a busy time for the café, so students would be better off popping in for a study session sometime during the week. There is an option to also make an appointment for the weekend online.



“For students in general, it’s so comfortable and so relaxing,” Stewart said. “I have had people in there working on their computers so I feel like it’d be a great study place.”



The café is planning on expanding by building a “catio,” an edition to the back of the building on the second story that connects to the cat room, so both animals and visitors can enjoy a view of the outdoors.


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Over 10 kittens are in house at Gatos and Beans. Photo by Lakyn Shepard.


Kitty Kat Haven & Rescue also supplies Gatos and Beans with litter, food, and vet care which gives the employees ample time to focus on caretaking.



The business, located in Avondale, is open Sunday and Monday from 12-7 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday, 11-8 p.m. More information can be found on their website, Facebook and Instagram.



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