A new space for coffee and cat enthusiasts called the Mew Haven Cat Cafe is coming to New Haven.
Michael and Angela Pullo, a married couple from New York City, are opening the cafe at 904 Whalley Ave in Westville at the end of November. Mew Haven Cafe will charge an hourly rate for people to play with cats that roam freely in a space allotted to them, and the cats will be available for adoption through the local shelter Animal Haven. The cafe will be the first establishment of its kind in New Haven — but it joins a nationwide cat cafe trend that includes other establishments like Meow Parlour in New York City and Cat Town Cafe in Oakland.
“We keep seeing these stories about cat cafes, and [Michael’s] brother had just gone to Thailand, and he’s like ‘Hey, there are like places where cats just hang around’ and we’re like that’s starting over here, this is something,” Angela Pullo said. “And one day, Mike just says, ‘Why not open a cat cafe?’”
She said the couple view the new global trend of cat cafes as a way to create a community among those who love cats, noting that dog owners can go to parks to meet each other on walks, but cat lovers lack communal spaces. She added that she hopes Mew Haven will be that physical space, adding that the cafe will host events such as Yoga with Cats and “Knitting with Kitties” in a separate room at the back of the building.
Pullo said she also wants the cafe to be a place where people can relax and escape from stress, adding that she hopes it will also “do some good in the world” by increasing the number of adoptions in New Haven every year. Some cat cafes average 100 adoptions a year, she said.
Ed Shrager, a Westville resident, said he is intrigued by the cafe idea but concerned about local competition for some of the other small cafes in the downtown area, in light of the declining commercial economy in the area. He pointed out the “for lease” signs that line Whalley Avenue and said the neighborhood is not “thriving like it should.”
Pullo said the community has been largely supportive of their efforts and has received advice from other stores in the area. The couple wants to bring new small business ideas to the historical and “quirky” neighborhood, Pullo said.
Although the cafe is a ten-minute drive from Yale, Pullo also wants students to use the cafe as a study space. The cafe will charge an hourly rate of $10 for the cat space, but will also have daylong “work-study passes” for people who want to stay longer. People who want to adopt will be redirected to the shelter, where they will go through a vetting process.
Cat-loving Yalies said they were excited to visit Mew Haven, but many had not heard about it before.
Ananya Kumar-Banerjee ’21 and Kellen Mermin-Bunnell ’21 were both enthusiastic about a space to play with cats in New Haven.
Kumar-Banerjee said she is not sure she will have time to frequent the cafe because of the distance, but loves the idea of studying around cats.
“I could also just talk with other people about cats while I’m there because it’ll be other cat lovers,” Mermin-Bunnells said. “Cats get a lot of hate. A safe space to appreciate cats is very important,”
Westville is bordered by West Haven and the Amity and West Rock neighborhoods.
Carolyn Sacco | email@example.com