It was an extra paw-some Christmas Day morning for everyone who stopped by Frisky Business, a new cat cafe at the Rimrock Plaza in Palm Springs.
The cafe’s owners Claire Rogers and her partner Sonny Von Cleveland spread the holiday spirit with free baked goods, chocolates, lattes and, of course, time to play with a room full of feline friends.
The Coachella Valley’s first cat cafe, which opened less than two weeks ago, normally charges guests $22 per hour to enter the cat lounge, where they can sip on a hot beverage and play with cats from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. All the cats are available for adoption directly from the business.
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On Christmas Day, the fledgling lounge opened its doors free of charge from 10 am to 1 pm About 30 people came and went to enjoy chai tea, coffee, kittens and human company. Rogers gifted everyone goodie bags filled with more chocolates and a cat-themed greeting card.
“We don’t have any family here, and the holidays can be a lonely time,” Von Cleveland said. “We wanted to make sure others around had a place to go.”
Just weeks ago, Rogers and Von Cleveland thought they might have to abandon the idea for Frisky Business.
After 16 months of negotiations with the city, they still had no permit, and the unopened cafe had cost them three times as much to build as they anticipated.
Their Christmas miracle arrived in the form of a business license.
Since opening 10 days ago, the couple has already adopted out six cats and begun to see regulars visit the lounge.
“The big picture is we want to get the cats in their forever homes,” Von Cleveland said.
On Christmas morning, some of about 10 cats napped on cat towers and inside play tunnels. Others, ranging from several months to 9 years old, playfully interacted with guests of all ages.
“I felt like kittens would need love on Christmas Day,” said Everest Yasuda, 8.
“This Christmas couldn’t be any more perfect,” said Monica Tiller, donned in a red Christmas sweater emblazoned with the words “Be Merry” and a picture of a black cat. Tiller worked for the Humane Society for 25 years.
As they watched guests smile in the lounge, Rogers and Von Cleveland reflected on their venture with gratitude.
“This is what it’s all about,” Rogers said. “This makes all the hell we went through worth it.”
The cash-strapped couple had every excuse in the world not to be charitable this holiday. Instead, they chose to spend their holiday working for free and donating product.
“We’re doing the opposite of business school principles,” Rogers said. “Money’s not the driver here. Of course, we need to make money. But, we serve first, and the money follows.”
if you go
Que: Frisky Business
When: Hours are currently in flux, but generally, the cafe is open 9 am-3 pm Thursday-Monday
Where: 4781 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite F, Palm Springs
More info: To make a reservation, visit friskybusinesscatcafe.com
Jonathan Horwitz is a staff writer for The Desert Sun. Reach him firstname.lastname@example.org.