Houston's first cat cafe, El Gato Coffee House, opened just last week in a small cottage tucked away off Pecore in the Heights. Well, it's softly open anyway, which seems appropriate for a business involving many a furry friend. But really what that means is that a separate structure housing an actual coffee bar is still forthcoming this summer.
When the separate shipping container coffee shop opens, it will also be accompanied by a catio — yes, a cat patio — where visitors and the resident cats can bask in the sun (or shade). But for now, the main cottage area— which does offer cups of coffee free with admission — is open and ready for some major cat hang sessions.
The Houston Press stopped in this week to meet the slinky occupants of El Gato and check out the new spot. All guests are (for now/pre-coffee bar) asked to pay $12 for an hour with the cats— students can pay $10— along with signing a waiver (because these animals do have claws and personalities, y'all). Again, that comes with coffee, water and Wi-Fi, and there's a limit to how many folks can be inside with the cats — 18 altogether, and yes, kids are welcome and entry for them is only $8.
The owner and founder of El Gato, Renee Reed, tells the Press that the shop works in collaboration with the Humane Society, where she herself started up a Yoga With Cats program that's now carried over to the new shop.
Along with yoga and meditation classes, El Gato also offers Saturday morning cartoons with cats, a movie night and an upcoming crochet class — making this little cottage more than just a cafe. It's more a hub for animal lovers.
All of the feline inhabitants of El Gato are ready for adoption, and they really are a charming, comedic bunch. An evening visit here is a nice respite from the daily grind. A few of the cats were in hiding during our visit (they have a special room where they can escape the humans and do their business, naturally) and a couple were visiting the vet. There are 12 cats total, but the nine we met were an absolute pleasure. Check them out below and head to elgatocoffeehouse.com for a full listing of events and more information. Also, make sure to check back this summer as we cover El Gato's full coffee bar opening.
The truest form of feline. Monica hides when she wants, plays when she wants and eats what she wants. This is Monica's world and you are just in it, humanoid.
Likes to peek out at humans from the porthole in his beloved cabinet. Why do humans keep opening cabinet? Why do humans keep saying Milo when name is obviously Dr. Caligari?
The lap-seeker. This is a cat that knows what she wants — a warm leg to snooze upon forevermore. Occasionally angered when humans do not oblige.
Wants to chill but so cannot chill. Did someone actually give this animal caffeine? No, it's just youthful vigor. This crazy cat is only seven months old.
A total ham. A big fat cat that has mastered the art of being hand fed treats all day. He just wants to sit in the middle of everyone and bask in the attention and sunlight. Can you blame him?
Sleeps all day. Plays all night. Would probably be a mixologist if reborn in human form.
A sweet gal who patrols the floor and avoids immature dramas. If Alice gives you approval, you know you're in the cool cat club.
The only cat to venture atop the floating cat head and almost land in a hanging fern during our visit to the coffeehouse. Does not care what you think. Could definitely destroy curtains if allowed access to curtains.
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The chillest cat around. Just give her a soft pillow and she can't complain.
El Gato Coffee House
508 Pecore, 832-968-3006