Featured Images: Owner Julie Easterbrooks and a few of Kitty Kingdom Cat Cafe’s adorable cats. Calee Lukowski | Marlin Chronicle
Cat cafes are a growing industry across the country. These unique cafes offer customers the chance to meet with cats from local shelters in a relaxed environment.
Kitty Kingdom Cat Cafe in Chesapeake is celebrating its three-year anniversary this month. With a calm and peaceful environment, the Kitty Kingdom Cat Cafe is a wonderful place to find a future furry friend.
The cats at Kitty Kingdom range from kittens to full-grown cats. The cafe partners with three local shelters to get these fluffy felines adopted to good homes. The cafe also provides patrons with a menu of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as some snacks.
The co-owner of Kitty Kingdom Cat Cafe, Julie Easterbrooks, designed the space with nature in mind. The walls are a beautiful green hue, with naturalistic artwork, done by Beverly Mayfield. Easterbrooks had the freedom to find her passion in fused glass, which rolls over into the overall decor of the cafe. The entire place is much more personal than a shelter could ever be.
Easterbrooks came into this profession in a nontraditional fashion. She attended Virginia Wesleyan University to study the liberal arts and then pursued a few different career paths. Eventually, she went back to school and became a phlebotomist with the American Red Cross, where she met her husband and co-owner of Kitty Kingdom Cat Cafe, Jim Easterbrooks.
Both huge animal fans, Julie and Jim got the idea for a cat cafe after visiting a similar establishment in Nottingham, England. “We walked into a cafe in Nottingham and within 15 months this place was launched,” Easterbrooks said.
Kitty Kingdom Cat Cafe is one of only three cat cafes in the 757 area, and is willing to work with many shelters at one time to maximize exposure with hopes for greater adoption numbers.
The cat cafe partners with three local shelters: Garfield’s Cat Rescue, SCATinc and Lil Roar Cat Rescue. The cats are transported to Kitty Kingdom where they live full time, with one room for adults and one room for kittens.
The cats are housed at Kitty Kingdom with no charge to the shelters, but the shelters get 100% of the adoption fees. There is enough room for up to 40 cats to be housed comfortably at one time.
One Google reviewer said that the cafe was “so much better than adopting directly from a shelter.” The cafe offers patrons the opportunity to interact with the felines in a deinstitutionalized setting. This allows people to see more of the cat’s true personality with humans and other cats.
The Easterbrooks utilize the internet and social media to advertise the many amazing cats and kittens housed at Kitty Kingdom, with hopes of finding adopters who could be interested. While the adult cats are popular, the real draw in for possible adopters are the kittens housed at Kitty Kingdom. Many adopters are lured in by the promise of kittens and soon realize that the adults may be a better fit for their families.
The cats and kittens are well cared for by the team at Kitty Kingdom, who sometimes go as far as taking the felines to the vet to get spayed and neutered or to get any necessary vaccinations. A review on Google said, “The cats here are all very well cared for and you can tell the employees are knowledgeable and genuinely care about the cats.”
The cats are not confined, even at night, unless they need to be for health purposes. Kittens, for example, are confined “for their safety” and “because they need the extra ability to get food and nutrition,” Easterbrooks said.
The cafe is run by a minimal staff and volunteers. Everyone is dedicated to helping these felines find forever homes. “We do this because we can,” Easterbrooks said. Kitty Kingdom is certainly not a place where people are only there for the pay-out. The entire atmosphere speaks to the amount of time and effort volunteers put in because they care about the futures of these animals.
Easterbrooks also talked about how proud she was to have created something so wonderful. With an amazing support system built up of staff, friends and her husband, Easterbrooks was able to build a legacy that she can be proud of.
“I’m proud of doing something as opposed to, you know, just staying in a fantasy land,” Easterbrooks said.
Kitty Kingdom Cat Cafe is certainly something to be proud of. The cafe has had 787 adoptions in the three years since it has opened, and that number just keeps climbing.
The next step for Kitty Kingdom is to partner with a local veterinary clinic to make getting the cats the proper medical attention easier.
Like any good business venture, there are plenty of ups and downs. “The cats have taught me I’m not God. I can’t control everything,” said Easterbrooks, “through the storms, we are still here.”
By Calee Lukowski