Animal Lovers Find Refuge in Pet Friendly Spaces

 It’s the final stretch of the fall semester, as upcoming final exams and papers approach closer with the rush of feeling stressed. Then, topping it off with the holiday season, the winter blues, making travel plans and gift shopping overwhelms more people. De-stress with furry companions to lift your spirits and feel better all fall and winter long, no matter how short the days end or how low the temperatures drop.


Catnip Cat Cafe is proud to be the very first cat cafe in Hampton Roads since July 2017. At Catnip Cat Cafe, they live by their motto, “Adopt, don’t shop.” 751 cats have been adopted and found happy homes after leaving from their care. Their local shelter partners, Feral Affairs Network and Billy the Kidden Rescue, provide them with lovable rescued felines in hopes that their environment can help them find a home quicker. 


Ivy Barnes, a staff member at Catnip Cat Cafe, shared about the adoption process. “[You] put in an application for whichever cat you’re interested in and turn that in here or you can text it to the owner. Then, a few days after that, either the owner or someone from the rescue [center] that the cat is from will be in contact with you. It would be about a 20 minute phone conversation to talk about if you have other pets or if you have roommates,” said Barnes.


20 adoptable kitties roam free around guests, play with a plethora of toys and take cat naps in their favorite spot. The age range of the cats at Catnip Cat Cafe is between five months and fifteen years old and up. Catnip Cat Cafe facilitates adoptions of adult and senior cats who are passed over in potentially finding a home.


Barnes added, “I hope guests experience some bonding with at least one of the cats by getting to play with them and cuddle with them. And in general, just having a good time.”


Reservations are highly encouraged as Catnip Cat Cafe has the limited number of 10 spots available per hour. All Catnip Cat Cafe guests are required to acknowledge their waiver before spending time with the kitties. Guests are not allowed to chase or mistreat the Catnip cats. The most popular times for visiting Catnip Cat Cafe are on the weekends and late afternoons in the day after work.


At Catnip Cat Cafe, 30-minute visits for guests cost $7 and one hour reservations cost $12. If you have a cat loving group of four or more, then visit to earn a discounted rate at $10 per person for the hour. The safety guidelines for guests at Catnip Cat Cafe are that hands must be sanitized, wear a mask regardless of vaccination status and sign the waiver before entering the cafe.


Barnes shares how guests can support them. “Posting about us and getting the word out because we did actually move our location earlier this year, so I think posting about us and talking about us online is always helpful,” said Barnes. 

Visit their website at to make a reservation and their social media on Instagram and Facebook @catnipcatcafe for more information about them. Catnip Cat Cafe is located at 1611 Colley Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23517 with feline friends waiting to be petted and ready to be adopted.


For our dog loving friends in the Wesleyan Community, visit Salty Paws to grab an ice cream or bakery treat with your canine friend. Michael Griffon, co-owner of Salty Paws, decided to pursue the dog friendly franchise opportunity in Sept. 2020 and have its grand opening on April 3. Griffon shared how it came to fruition in Hampton Roads to bring a fun and unique experience for local residents and tourists with their dogs.


“We were looking for a franchising opportunity for us. My daughter and wife were in Annapolis looking at different shops and boutiques for ideas. Then, they saw the Salty Paws there, and they went in,” said Griffon. “Right away they knew that was the right business for us because we love dogs so much, and we wanted to have a place where we really enjoyed being at our place of business every day.”


Salty Paws offers lactose free, dog friendly ice cream, cookies and treats. It also serves as a venue to host your doggie’s birthday party, ice cream social, breed meet-up or fundraising events. For this holiday season, Salty Paws is hosting a Santa paws ornament event for dogs to make a holiday paw print in clay for $5, so owners can have a keepsake for a lifetime.


Griffon added, “It’s always a good time to give your dog a good time, and just spread the word too. We rely a lot on word-of-mouth and advertising. We’ve had overwhelmingly positive experiences and reviews, so when people see that or they hear personal recommendations from their friends, that’s really big for us.”


For more information on Salty Paws, visit or @saltypawsvabeach on Facebook and Instagram. Dog owners can call Salty Paws at (757) 233-2792 to reserve a party or celebration with their dog located at 352 Laskin Road in Virginia Beach.

Tiffany Warren