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Of Cats and Coffee

Ever since its opening in November of 2017, Riley and I had been eager to visit the Organic Cat Cafe of Greenville,SC. On Wednesday, October 10th, we were finally going to experience the cafe for the first time, as well as interview the owners.

Morgan: As soon as I walked into the building, I was completely overwhelmed with excitement. The atmosphere can simply be described as absolutely peaceful: calming music, art, soft lighting, many different plants, and of course, cats. The best way I can describe this would be a cat-lover’s paradise. The cat cafe seemed like the perfect place for everyone. Anyone could go there to study, grab a bite to eat, or just to hang out with friends.

Riley: When I walked into the cafe, I was filled with a sense of calmness and that everything would be okay. The sleepy cats and the serene music made me feel as if I was at home. The cats were automatically friendly, they didn’t run away or hide, and they made you feel as though you were with your own pets at home. This place was obviously designed to be a place that you could just hang out at and enjoy yourself.

When we arrived at the cafe, we had a few questions for the owners, Jennifer Bronzel and Ernesto Cardenas. They happily sat down with us during their busy schedules to answer some of our questions:

What inspired you to start the cafe?

When Jennifer Bronzel moved to Greenville from England, she knew she wanted to do something that had to do with cats. “I came here with a job, not thinking of anything. In Greenville, when you’re from here, you see the changes and how its growing thriving and I just thought a cat cafe would work perfect.” Her goal was to be the first cat cafe in South Carolina, but unfortunately, Charleston opened their doors first. However, Charleston’s opening made the opening for Greenville’s cat cafe much easier, because they were now aware of all the regulations and restrictions.

What is it like to work at the cat cafe?

Ernesto Cardenas described it as “probably the best job in the world.” The job entails hanging around cats all day, working in a calming atmosphere, and meeting “the coolest people in Greenville.” Although this sounds like a utopia, Ernesto mentioned that it is also a lot of work. “It’s also a lot of hard work that even we didn’t really foresee. A lot of cleaning, as you can imagine.” But overall, Jennifer and Ernesto love their jobs.

How do all these cats come into your care?

The Organic Cat Cafe of Greenville works with rescue organizations such as Foster Paws, ARC, iRescue, and Feline Lifeline. All the cats are rescues, except for one, Pippin, who was given to them by a friend. “We’re really happy that we can help out...and that makes us, in a way, also a sanctuary where we can provide a place for these cats to retire and just be happy.”

How often do you take cats in?

Cats are taken in once a week, if not, every two weeks. Cats are constantly being adopted out. When we were there, there were two little orange kittens. According to the owners, there had been eight just a week before.

How is your cafe unique compared to other cafes?

Most cat cafes have all of their cats up for adoption, but at Greenville’s Cat Cafe, the majority of the cats are residential. Ms. Bronzel says that she sees other cafes as “shelters but nicer.” They still try to bring in as many adoptable cats as possible. Cat yoga is popular among cafes, and is offered here as well. Art classes (with cats!), jewelry making (with more cats!!), pottery (with even more cats!), block parties, and art shows are held at the Organic Cat Cafe, too. Mr. Cardenas stated that the cafe is to turning more into an event space with cats.This cat cafe is also a community space, a place for everyone. Other activities that are held here include: Ping Pong Tournaments, Art, Sound Healing and Meditation, Massage Day, Painting Classes, and work with Wine and Design. Mr. Cardenas says that the cafe is basically “an art space with cats.”

How do cats get adopted?

Foster Paws is an animal adoption agency that helps with adopting cats. To adopt a cat you need to fill out a form to make sure you are a suitable owner for the cat. Cats can be sensitive, so they need to know if you would be a good owner. There is no adoption fee to adopt one of those precious babies. They believe that “...just because you don’t have money to donate right now doesn’t mean you can’t be a good cat owner.”

How do you keep the cats from fighting?

The cats were brought into the cafe about three months before the cafe opened in 2017 so they could see how well they got along. Mr. Cardenas commented, saying that they all got along very well, “...they all grew up together...as brothers and sisters.” Cats that cause problems are quickly adopted out, in order to keep the order in the place. One cat, Queso, was a very reserved and impatient cat. He had to be adopted out for fear of hurting other cats or customers. The owners expressed their dismay, saying; “...it was really hard for us to adopt him out after being with him for a year.” Problematic cats are adopted out for the good of the other cats to keep it a stress-free zone for the others.

Not only are the cats high quality, but the food at the cafe is also delicious. Most foods are puns on cats, such as CATsidilla, and the waffles are even named after cats! If you are not comfortable eating around cats, not to worry, because there is a special cafe room free of cats. Of course, you are welcome to take your food or beverages into the cat area as well.

If you’re interested (and aren’t allergic to cats) Greenville’s Organic Cat Cafe is always looking for volunteers! Whether it’s cleaning the litter room, using your art skills, or even passing out fliers while wearing a cat mask, you can earn service hours and bonus benefits at the cafe. This cat cafe is a truly unique experience, and I would definitely recommend volunteering and getting involved.

The cafe was one of the best experiences I have ever had, and if you are a cat lover, this is probably the best place for you! The cats were more calm than I would have expected, and they were all so sweet. Ms. Bronzel and Mr. Cardenas made us feel welcome, and they tried really hard to work us into their schedule. I cannot describe the intense amount of joy that I felt in my time at the cafe. 100 percent recommended!

*We were fortunate enough to be given free entrance to the Organic Cat Cafe of Greenville in order to write our article.