Reynoldsburg sisters Paula Nemitz and Teresa Hellstrom were among the first customers to visit the new Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe when it opened in Clintonville in late September.

Reynoldsburg sisters Paula Nemitz and Teresa Hellstrom were among the first customers to visit the new Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe when it opened in Clintonville in late September.

They were so taken with the idea of a cat cafe that they gave money to the Kickstarter campaign owner Chrissy Kuras initiated to fund the opening of the business. More than 200 people pledged nearly $9,500 to get the cafe off the ground.

The basic premise of a cat cafe, a phenomenon that originated 18 years ago in Taiwan but has since spread around the globe, is that people pay -- $10 an hour, in the case of Eat Purr Love -- to mingle with cats while enjoying coffee and prepackaged baked goods.

Jenny Huckeby of northwest Columbus and her friend, Janet Reymann of Dublin, visited the Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe and knew right away where they're going for their combined bachelorette party.

"We love cats and we love that it's a local business," Huckeby said Sept. 28 during the first full day of operation for the cafe, 3041 Indianola Ave.

"I look forward to meeting the cats, interacting with the cats," she said. "I like cats better than people."

"I was so excited about this," Reymann added.

According to Eat Purr Love's website, a cat cafe is part cafe, part feline adoption center.

"Patrons can interact and relax with a group of rescued cats in a home-like environment which is designed to keep cat aficionados and resident cats comfortable and content," the website says.

All the cats at Eat Purr Love are from the Capital Area Humane Society and are available for adoption.

Two adoption applications were filed during Eat Purr Love's first week, Kuras said.

Although she anticipated a slow start as the cafe was finally open, Kuras said business had been good, and the weekend of Oct. 1 and 2 was fully booked, with the maximum 15 patrons at a time.

Feline lovers have been waiting for opening day since early May, when the news about the business broke as the Clintonville Area Commission considered it.

In that time, the cafe has garnered nearly 4,000 followers on Facebook.

About 10 cats, or a "clowder," are allowed to roam free inside Eat Purr Love at any one time. Entrance to the cat area is through double doors to prevent escapes.

"Our cats are having so much fun and everyone walks out with a smile on their face," Kuras said.

"Of course, we had to come," Nemitz said, after she and Hellstrom visited a similar operation recently in San Francisco.

"I just want to support a local business and help find cats a home," said Franklinton resident Cody Henderhan, who was with Reymann and Huckeby.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1