Cats, delicious beverages and a whole lot of fun are coming to downtown Newmarket, New Hampshire. Kaitlyn Ferretti is the mastermind behind The Tipsy Tabby, a cat cafe that will open at 90 Main Street.
“I really feel that the goal of The Tipsy Tabby is a combination of many passions,” Ferretti said about her vision for the cafe in an email to The New Hampshire. “I want to help the environment, find cats homes, provide my community with a fun place to spend time, increase Newmarket’s consumer base. I also want to be able to get a good homemade hot chocolate, I’m not much of a coffee drinker myself!”
Understandably, many people may not fully understand how a “cat cafe” would work. Ferretti shed some light on the structure and activities that will be available.
“We’ll have two distinct spaces. A cafe side with large windows viewing the lounge area where the cats will be. Customers can walk in or book an appointment online to spend an hour in the lounge. The space is small, so due to fire code there will be a maximum number of patrons allowed. This is why we’ve decided to allow appointments, we want to provide everyone a chance to socialize with the cats. I think it would be easy for people to lose track of time and spend the whole day in there,” Ferretti said.
When a customer pays the hour’s rate, they get their first basic drink for free — which could be a plain hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. If customers are looking for something fancier, they can choose to pay a bit more to get a specialty drink such as a spiked hot chocolate or handmade boba beverage. Additionally, The Tipsy Tabby is partnering with a local bakery to provide baked treats.
Ferretti attended the University of Vermont, where she majored in zoology and minored in wildlife biology. She has worked in the veterinary industry, including volunteering at animal shelters at Georgia, where she was exposed to the “reality of feline overpopulation, crowded shelters and the very real fact that many of those cats are euthanized.” She said that since she grew up in New Hampshire, she had not yet learned of the magnitude of stray animals in the southern states before living there.
“When I learned of the growing popularity of animal cafes, and had the opportunity to visit one myself, I knew it could be a great way for me to merge my love for cats and working with people,” she said.
The Tipsy Tabby will also be a great space for UNH students, as it is located right down the road from campus. Ferretti explained that the cafe will have free Wi-Fi available, and will allow outside food and beverages within reason.
“If you and some friends want to rent a few hours to study with cats, that’s cool with us,” she said. In the future, Ferretti hopes to have special event nights with the cats, including games, trivia, and movies.
People may have some questions regarding the cats themselves, as this is a very new concept to many. Ferretti explained that the cats will be from Cat Tales rescue in Seabrook and will be selected to go to the cafe based on their personalities, as The Tipsy Tabby will be a very social environment.
“These kitties will then live at the Tipsy Tabby until finding their furever home. Patrons interested in adopting a cat will be able to submit their application at the cafe, and Cat Tales will process the adoption including the final vet visit required before going home,” she said.
The number of cats will depend on the inspection by the Department of Agriculture, which requires a permit for keeping cats on the premises of the business. Ferretti said the permit will be in conjunction with Cat Tales, and she expects to be allowed to have between four and eight cats at any given time.
Another important aspect of having a food business where animals will be present is the licensing. Ferretti shared that she has had several legislative hurdles, including getting a town zoning variance to build the apartment upstairs, though she noted they are still waiting on the “change of use zoning compliance” from the town to house the actual business. She emphasized that this is something officials have never really had experience with, as a cat cafe is a new concept. Ferretti shared that they await layout and restaurant licenses from the Department of Health and Human Services. She acknowledged that the state works through FDA regulation and needs to be sure food and the cats are kept separate.
“Doing this may require multiple LLCs, legal counsel and just stubborn determination,” she said. Ferretti is also waiting to hear about a liquor license, which she needs in order to serve the spiked hot chocolates.
Despite these obstacles, Ferretti hopes to open in late April, though she acknowledged that construction and permits may push this date back a bit. She anticipates the Tipsy Tabby likely being open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except on Sunday when the hours will likely be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PHOTO CREDIT Kaitlyn Ferretti