Shawano native opens Milwaukee’s first cat café

Photo by Ryan Peschman Katy McHugh, Shawano native and owner of Milwaukee’s first cat café Sip & Purr, holds her cat, Princess. McHugh got the idea of a cat café after her family took a trip to Amsterdam in 2017.

Milwaukee’s first ever cat café, Sip & Purr, opened on June 1 and already boasts over 30 cat adoptions, averaging one adoption per day.

Katy McHugh, a Shawano native, got the idea to open a cat café after a trip to Amsterdam in 2017 with her husband and children.

While in Amsterdam, one of her children was sick, and everyone was overtired, so McHugh wanted to end the trip on a brighter note by taking her family to a local cat café, McHugh said.

“I was sitting in the café with a cat on my lap and a glass of wine in my hand,” McHugh said. “It was so nice and relaxing that it made me want to open a similar café back at home. I had never heard of a place like this in America,”

After calling a friend, McHugh learned that cat cafés were beginning to emerge in the United States, but there were none in Milwaukee, where she currently resides, McHugh said.

“I have always loved animals, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” McHugh said.

Sip & Purr features an open-cage design, allowing the cats to wander about freely. People are able to get to know the cats’ different personalities, allowing them to choose which cat would make the best fit in their home if they are looking to adopt, McHugh said.

Those looking to potentially adopt a cat have two options. They can submit an adoption form on site to Sip & Purr’s rescue partner, the Lakeland Animal Shelter of Elkhorn, and pick up their cat after a 24-48 hour processing period.

To fast-track the adoption process, guests can submit a profile before visiting to be pre-approved, so they can pick up their cat on the same day as their visit. McHugh recommends this option, she said.

In accordance with health codes, Sip & Purr is divided into two separate sections by wall and doors: the café and the cat lounge. No cats are allowed in the café area, allowing guests to watch the cats from a distance while sipping a beverage or grabbing a bite to eat.

Sip & Purr hosts a variety of events featuring the cats, including the puppy pop-up event that occurred last month, weekly yoga classes every Sunday morning and an upcoming drag bingo event and singles mingle event.

McHugh lets her Shawano roots shine through her new café by featuring products from the area. Sip & Purr sells Twig’s Beverage sodas, and McHugh makes sure to pick up more cases every time she is back to visit Shawano.

Sip & Purr is located at 2021 E. Ivanhoe Place in Milwaukee. To ensure guests get to spend time with the cats, the café takes reservations.

“So far, our café has been met with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. It’s a great way to both allow folks to get their kitty fix in without the commitment and connect cats with good homes,” McHugh said.