Other than a few hissy fits – most by kitties, one by a kid – the inaugural Kids and Kitties event Feb. 27 at the Eat, Purr, Love Cat Cafe in Clintonville was a rousing success by organizers.
It was the first of what’s being planned as a monthly series of gatherings for children and felines up for adoption at the cafe, 3041 Indianola Ave. in Columbus, which was taken over last summer by Columbus Humane.
The event drew more than a dozen parents and children.
“I’m very excited by it,” said Emma Walsh, manager of the cat cafe, who alternated between reading stories aloud from one of the Pete the Cat books by James Dean and giving the youngsters a chance to interact with the cafe’s cats.
Some of the cats welcomed every bit of attention they could get, while others regarded the entire affair as far beneath their considerable dignity.
One mother and daughter from Blacklick were there to find a little comfort from sad circumstances.
“Our dog just passed away, so we’re thinking of getting a kitty,” said Annie Kiener, who brought 3-year-old Larkin to participate in the reading event.
Cricket was 9, according to Kiener, who works at the Beechwold Veterinary Hospital.
“Do you like those kitties?” Kiener asked Larkin as the little girl locked eyes with an especially friendly calico. “They’re a lot different from doggies.”
“We’ve been here before and we love it,” said Stephanie Wells of Clintonville, who attended with her 10-year-old daughter, Sophie.
Wells said she believes the cats would get as much out of the Kids and Kitties events as the children.
“I think they respond to the warmth that comes from just being with them,” she said. “I know they can recognize when people care about them.”
The Kids and Kitties gatherings take advantage of what’s generally a slow weekday time for Eat, Purr, Love, said Kerry Shaw, director of communications for Columbus Humane. It affords families some quality time with adoptable cats, and the cats get more opportunities to socialize with people, she said.
“I think it’s a win-win for both,” Shaw said.
“I was really interested in seeing how it was with cats and kids,” said Rachael Brady of Dublin, on hand with daughter Robin, 4, for their second visit to the cafe.
Elliot and Camille Browning of Reynoldsburg brought 3-year-old Charlotte to the initial Kids and Kitties on their first trip to Eat, Purr, Love.
“I’ve heard about cat cafes from various other locales,” Elliot Browning said.
Charlotte, her mother said, adores having stories read to her – and simply loves cats.
“I thought getting to do both at once would be a great opportunity,” Camille Browning said. “Ever since she could walk, she’s wanted to sit in your lap and be read to.”
After Walsh came to the end of the first Pete the Cat story, everyone shouted, “Yay!”
“Let’s have some kitty playtime – and use our indoor voices,” she said.
Future monthly Kids and Kitties gatherings might not involve storytimes, Walsh said, but all of them would afford kitties and kids playtime together.