Tourists and natives alike tend to seek refuge from Charleston’s growing hustle and bustle among many haunts located within the peninsular area’s main arteries of King and Market Streets.
Yet nestled in the heart of meeting street lies a new business with the most purrfect concept to hit Charleston in its long and vibrant history: The Pounce Café.
Since opening its doors in January of this year, The Pounce Café has prided itself on being the only cat café located in the Southeast, with its owners currently eyeing opportunities for expansion.
Co-owner Ashley Brooks saw the opportunity for the unique concept to happen in Charleston while working in a well-established cat café in Washington, DC during her graduate studies.
“I basically was able to take all that I learned while there, and really just make the concept my own when I came back to Charleston” she explained.
Indeed the café’s vibe provides a relaxing ambience mixed with fun, and yes many cats!
Every day, cats who would otherwise be waiting within the walls of the Charleston Animal Society instead stay in the café, where customers can pay for visitation with the always-exciting feline guests at hourly rates.
The goal is simple: provide the community with a fun opportunity to interact with the cats, while in return allowing the cats to free-roam the location to become more accustomed to human interaction and eventually adoption.
“Typically the Charleston Animal Society provides us the most social and independent cats in order for the atmosphere to be cool and comfortable for guests and the cats” Brooks explained. However, in order to keep the café stocked with feline hosts creative measures have taken place.
“In rare cases we may have cats that come from other cities. One weekend we had NO cats from so many adoptions that I brought my own just to keep us open!” Brooks explains while adding “but that’s a problem we’d rather have than cats with no home”.
Indeed, Charleston has readily embraced the concept of Pounce Cat Café and its frisky feline hosts. While last year the cat café Brooks once worked at in DC saw 100 cats become adopted, in the three months of operation 155 cats and kittens have received forever homes.
One guest I spoke to was amazed and proud of what the owners’ have done for the animal community. And in a town filled with hospitality one has to wonder why a cat café took so long to be created. Yet Brooks, who originally envisioned herself working on social causes in DC, describes what she thinks is the key.
“It’s all about the cats; they come first” she told me. And it’s clear when visiting the café this is true.
Visitors pay $15 for an hour experience with the cats. The admission costs includes one drink. During the hours treats and toys provide the cats stimulation and allows them to interact on their comfort level.
Visitors can actually adopt one of the resident felines during their session. Adult cats are $50 and kittens are $100. The café even has crates ready for purchase to take a new feline friend home. Return visitors are always welcome!