A 5-month-old cat, Georgie, meets new people every day. Despite not yet reaching his full size, he is remarkably fast and agile, effortlessly darting around any room he enters. Georgie is incredibly playful and his love for human attention knows no bounds. He adores being held and has a way of making his presence known wherever he goes. Despite possessing all these endearing qualities, Georgie has yet to find his forever home.
Georgie lives with multiple other cats at Beans Cat Cafe in New Paltz, a new location for the cafe owned by Jessica and Justin Strika, and a new addition to our town. Coming from Hudson Valley Animal Rescue, Georgie and other cats watch people come in and out on a weekly basis while they wait to be adopted. When you step into the coffee shop, you are greeted with a soothing palette of mint and light pink, creating a calming atmosphere that complements the beautiful mural adorning the walls.
The cafe portion and the cat portion are separated, allowing for the kitchen to remain sanitary. This place also boasts an extensive menu of beverages, offering a wide range of choices for patrons to sip on as they enjoy the company of the resident cats. However, the journey hasn’t always been smooth for Beans Cat Cafe.
When the Strikas first set out to open their cat cafe, inspired by one they had seen in Rochester, they did not expect the very quick difficulties they faced. Jessica had quit her job just a week before COVID-19 began and the pandemic put a massive pause on their plans. Finding a space and a supportive landlord turned out to be a cat-and-mouse game. “It took a while to find a space that was going to be accommodating.”
Especially in the early days, when being COVID-friendly was the priority for many, finding a landlord to support the business also proved to be difficult. The cats have to be fed and taken care of every day, regardless of whether the cafe is open or not. While Hudson Valley Animal Shelter (HVAS) took care of veterinary appointments, the Strikas found themselves shouldering the immense responsibility of ensuring the cats’ overall well-being. This task often proved overwhelming, but the Strikas have reaped rewards from their business.
Despite these challenges, the Strikas’ determination to open this cafe has paid off. This cafe was not just a pipe dream, but a love-fueled mission. They love seeing cats go home with new owners and have even adopted one of the cats, Oscar, for themselves, making him their third cat. Beans opened on July 14 and they have been able to hand out 25 cats. “It’s good for people who just want to come and hang out and get the vibe of the cats, especially here with the students,” said Jessica. “And then also, they get homes out of it. We’re helping the shelter out by giving them a little bit more space to work with.”
For many students, this cat cafe is the only place where they can sit and play with pets, a luxury they cannot afford in dorms or rented apartments. It is a very special addition to an already cute town. They want to benefit locals in New Paltz as well, having local artists come in every other Thursday to set up a table and sell their art. But students and artists of SUNY New Paltz aren’t the only ones benefiting from the cafe.
“Around the time we first opened, we had somebody come in and he was very quiet the whole time, came in by himself, didn’t really interact with the cats and then later that night, he sent us a message on Facebook and he’s like, ‘Hey, I’m a veteran and have PTSD and it was really nice to come in and hang out with the cats.’ It made me feel a lot better,” she said. Struggling with mental health herself, especially during the pandemic, Jessica said that being able to help others in their struggles has been very satisfying for her.
But aside from just visiting and seeing the cats, there is the added bonus of being able to adopt a new furry friend. The process allows the animal shelter to see each cat has a loving, safe home. There is a simple online application, followed by a landlord reference, a vet reference if there are other animals in the home and some personal references for the owners. The fee ranges from $100 to $175 depending on the animal’s age.
Beans Cat Cafe allows cats to find forever homes, but in the meantime, the two are taking care of the cats and considering their future. What comes next? Jessica shares they do not want to open a third location, but plan to continue improving on the two that already exist. They would also like to get involved with Trap Neuter Release (TNR) to try to help population control of stray cats.
Located on 11 Church Street, this small cafe is so much more than what you see when you walk by. It’s a sanctuary for cats, cat lovers and everything in between. It brings happiness to the animals, the owners and our community. Through the challenges and the triumphs, Beans Cat Cafe stands as a testament to the power of dedication and the profound bond between humans and their feline friends. As they continue to provide both a safe haven for cats and a haven of relaxation for visitors, the Strikas look ahead to a future where their mission will touch even more lives. In a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming, Beans Cat Cafe is a reminder of the healing power of companionship and the spirit of those who believe in making a difference, one purr at a time.
For more information check their website: