Orlando cat café hosts special events, provides space for cat community

The Kitty Beautiful: A Cat Café, home to around 20 cats on any given day, hosted its “Tea Time with Bongo” event Jan. 29.

Cat cafes have gained popularity within the last few years. The cats at Kitty Beautiful can be adopted — more than 400 have been adopted out since the cat café opened –but they are also available to spend time with while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.

Tea Time with Bongo occurs semi-regularly at the café. The event is centered around Bongo, Kitty Beautiful’s longest resident and “back-of-house manager.” Bongo, normally adorned with a tie or bowtie, is the face, heart and paws of Kitty Beautiful. He is the only cat not up for adoption at the cat café.

“He shows the new cats the ropes,” volunteer Jade Dryburgh says. “He’ll show them where the food is and where the water is and he’ll sleep with them at first. It’s why he’s such a good advocate cat because he just makes them all feel comfortable.”

Bongo is the star of the show and he knows it. Kitty Beautiful’s walls are lined with drawings of Bongo, done by children who have visited the café since it opened in 2019. At Tea Time, Bongo sits atop his cat tree and surveys the event. He is surrounded by adoring cat lovers who want to show him love.

“Bongo’s my favorite. He’s always here, he’s not up for adoption and he’s always chill. You can pet him and put the ties on him,” Kitty Beautiful regular April Wilk says. Her and her mother try to attend every event Kitty Beautiful hosts and it’s the food and friendly faces that keeps them coming back.

Events like Tea Time with Bongo provide a fun way for cat lovers to meet other people that are as in love with cats as they are.

Dryburgh says she tries to come in as often as she can. She loves being able to help facilitate an adoption between a cat and the person who’s fallen in love with them.

“Seeing somebody fall in love with a cat or a cat fall in love with a human and they actually take that cat home, it’s great when they come in looking for a cat and we find them a cat that fits, but it’s even better when they’re not looking for a cat and all of a sudden, there’s an adoption,” Dryburgh says.

Kitty Beautiful co-owner David Strauss says that they try to host two or three events every month to get people to come into the café.

“A lot of times, what happens is that people will be aware of these events and aren’t necessarily aware of us normally. They’ll come in for the events and then have never been to the café before,” he says. “We’re trying to get the word out and get people to know about us.”

The event calendar, with reservations to attend events, can be found at TheKittyBeautiful.com.

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