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By Lauren Wong

Have you ever wanted to enjoy your coffee with a furry buddy? La Gattara Cat Cafe and Boutique, located downtown Phoenix, is an entertainment center and cat sanctuary wrapped into one. Stop in to play some board games and sip your coffee while you cuddle with these kitties, or come in and search for a new addition to your family!

“My dad was a police officer and he saved all the cats… so I do the same thing,” Missy Pruitt, President and Co-Owner of La Gattara Cat Cafe, says. “I went to Japan in 2008 and heard about Cat Cafes, but I was like they’ll never do it here. Then in 2014 the first one opened in Oakland… and then I was like, okay, we can do that here. It then took about three years to open.”

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In 2017, Pruitt opened the first location in Tempe. That lease ended around the time COVID began so Carrie Seay, Vice President and Co-Owner of La Gattara Cat Cafe, partnered up with Pruitt to find a bigger space. That’s when this location, in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, was chosen and it opened Jan. 1, 2022. Since that initial opening in 2017 they’ve adopted over 800 cats to loving families with the help of their adoption partners. 

You can tell the second you walk in that this place is run by cat lovers. Pruitt had the biggest smile on her face as she welcomed me into the cafe, her kitty ears headband positioned perfectly on her head. Just about everything here is cat themed. From Cat-opoly, to children’s books about kittens, to the card game Exploding Kittens, and more. There’s catnip bubbles, plenty of treats, toys, and a climbing wall built into the whole interior of the play area. You can buy little cat keychains, coffees named after cats, and local artists’ work. All the money from the adoption fees, lounge fees, coffee, merchandise, and even the tips, go right back to the cats.

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Missy Pruitt, President and Co-Owner of La Gattara Cat Cafe

Most of the furry residents here are brought in locally. Some of the cats have come from hoarding situations, people that they know who’ve found feral cats that had kittens, strays, etc. Since they’re partnered with a variety of rescues and fosters, if cats don’t do well in this free-roaming environment then they’ll pass them around to somewhere that’s a better fit for them. 

Generally, it just takes time for them to adjust. One minute they’re in the streets, the next they’re surrounded by other cats and people “When we first got them, half of them were hiding and weren’t even coming out. It was this slow progress of this one coming out and then that one coming out,” Seay says. “The other day one of the cats was sitting on someone’s lap and I was like, ‘What are you doing buddy? You haven’t done that with anyone.’ So it’s fun to see how everyone helps each other and the happiness that’s all around.”

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Two 15 year old black cats, Hunter and QT, who call La Gattara their home have a very interesting back story. These cats belonged to Matthew Meisner, who was shot and killed in July of 2020. At that time, under Arizona law, these cats were considered ‘personal property,’ so at the time of the death, his family and friends weren’t able to retrieve the cats. This left them locked in his apartment for four days without any food or water. It inspired “Matthew’s Law,” which now allows landlords to go in to get any pets one day after the death of a tenant. 

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"I like to call it real life Prozac…" Pruitt says.

“Our realistic goals are just to continue to get cats adopted, having more events for the neighborhood, having educational events, being able to have more of a food bank, being able to do T&R Services for the neighborhood and getting funding and grants for those types of services,” Seay says. There’s so many events from Comedy and Cats to Caterday Yoga and craft nights. You can find out more about them on their website. 

“I like to call it real life Prozac… you don’t have to adopt, you can come and just hang out and not feel the pressure, you can come and visit the cats three or four times and then decide,” Pruitt says. “Every single person that walks out of the door is smiling.”

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For more information on their events, daily tickets, or adoptions visit their website.