Smitten with kittens: Hamilton County’s first cat cafe set to open in Fishers

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Cat and coffee lovers will soon have a unique destination at Hamilton County’s first-ever cat cafe, Smitten Kitten Cat Cafe. Located at 7852 E. 96th St. in Fishers, owner Holly Moss plans to open the cafe in January 2023 with her 20-year-old son, Collin Fields.

The Smitten Kitten Cat Café will not only be a place for guests to purchase and enjoy a variety of treats and beverages, it will also be a space for them to spend time with adoptable cats and kittens.

The idea first came to Moss, 54, when she heard about a cat cafe in Indianapolis. After she and her son – who is on the autism spectrum – visited, Moss decided that creating a similar cafe concept would be beneficial in helping her son’s social anxiety while providing a unique cafe concept to the community.

“Collin loves cats, and we thought it would be great for the cat community,” Moss said. “There are so many cats in the area that need homes, especially as the humane societies are filling up.”

Fields’ role in the cafe is being the “idea guy,” according to Moss.

“My son helps with graphic design,” she said. “He puts the ideas on paper and we have someone else make the design. He’s helped with the floor plan, and he designed our custom cat tree on paper. He’s my idea guy, then we make (those ideas) come true.”

A 900 North Studios employee works on the cafe’s custom cat tree.

The cafe is split into two areas: the cafe and the cat room. The cat room is an enclosed room with a large window facing the cafe area. Guests who want to visit the cats must do so inside the room. In the cafe, guests can purchase coffee, tea and pastries and enjoy them as they watch the cats from their seats.

Custom design firm 900 North Studios in Indianapolis is sculpting the cafe’s custom cat tree. When finished, the tree will be 9-feet tall and stand in the cat room.

All cats at Smitten Kitten will be adoptable through the Humane Society for Hamilton County. Adoption fees will exclusively benefit the Humane Society, not the cafe. Cafe staff will be trained and onsite during hours of operation to help guests that are looking to adopt a cat.

“Adopters will do an assessment and fill out an application at the cafe,” Moss said. “We’re working on the program (with the Humane Society for Hamilton County) to make it super easy for everyone involved.”

Guests are welcome to walk in any time for coffee and snacks at the cafe. However, Moss highly recommends reserving a time slot for the cat room. Guests can make reservations on the Smitten Kitten website for either 30 or 60 minutes at a time.

The cats won’t be the only local feature of Smitten Kitten Cat Cafe. It has a partnership with Noble Coffee & Tea Co. The Noblesville company will supply the coffee and tea for the cat cafe.

Moss’ mission with the cafe is to help her son while providing a service to the community.

“One big goal is to help my son become more social, that’s closest to my heart,” Moss said. “But I’ve been a cat lover my entire life. It’s great being able to work with local shelters and helping those cats get the visibility they need (to be adopted.) That visibility and joy customers will have from playing with the cats will help get them adopted.”

Moss said her son is excited about opening Smitten Kitten Cat Cafe.

“If you ask my son, he wants to franchise (the cafe),” Moss said. “But we need to start with this one to make sure we can replicate it. I have reserved a website for the Westfield area for a few years down the road, though. I also have a friend opening a nonprofit version of a cat cafe and she’s looking for the money to open it in Carmel.”

For more, visit smittenkittencatcafe.com.

A rendering of the Smitten Kitten Cat Cafe’s layout. (Photos courtesy of Holly Moss)

History of Cat Cafes

According to an article by the University of Pittsburgh, the world’s first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998. The cafe was popular with Japanese tourists, who then brought the idea back to Japan.

The first Japanese cat cafe opened in Osaka in 2004. Because many apartments in Japan forbid pet ownership, the popularity of the cafes is attributed to a desire to interact with cats to help relieve the stress of a busy urban life.

Since then, cat cafes have become an international success, from South Korea to the United Kingdom. Some cafes have resident cats that are not eligible for adoption but can still spend time with customers. Other cafes, such as Smitten Kitten, partner with local humane societies and animal shelters to help house and adopt out the cats.

Indiana has six cat cafes, including Smitten Kitten.

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