Two Cats Café to expand, create cat cafe with ARF

Two Cats Café in the Village on April 11. Grace Ramey // DN
Two Cats Café in the Village on April 11. Grace Ramey // DN

To donate funds toward the ZenDen at Two Cats Café, check out the restaurant's Kickstarter fundraiser.

Popular in Asia since the 1990s, cat cafes have recently begun to multiply in the United States. Nine Lives, the first cat cafe in Indiana, opened earlier this year in Indianapolis. However, there will soon be another cat cafe located right in Muncie.

Two Cats Café, a locally owned restaurant in The Village, will soon be transforming into a cat cafe. Aiming to open in the coming months, the cafe will be teaming up with the Muncie Animal Rescue Fund to allow customers to interact with a variety of adoptable cats from the shelter.

When Basam Helwani, owner of the cafe, first opened his restaurant, he wanted it to be a true cat cafe. However, due to health code standards, he was unable to keep cats in the cafe because the cats would not have a separate containment area away from the kitchen.

But once the building next door to Two Cats was up for rent, the plan started to fall into place.

In August, the cafe hopes to open up the ZenDen — the planned name for the cat cafe area — in the vacant building next door to Two Cats. The restaurant will still function as is, but a door will be built to connect the two buildings.

The space measures roughly 750 square feet, which will allow for approximately 25 cats to roam freely and interact with customers.

As Jody Leddy, executive director of ARF explains, the cafe will be a chance for the cats to have more social time. ARF usually has around 50 cats at one given time. It can be difficult for the small number of staff members to split their time between the many cats.

The cat cafe will also benefit those who may not be able to visit during ARF’s normal hours. Because the shelter is only open on specific days of the week, those who work or have other commitments on those days can come and meet the adoptable cats at the ZenDen.

“We’re really excited to have our best-behaved, adoptable cats at the cafe,” Leddy said.

Ball State students are already buzzing with excitement about the addition of a cat cafe to Muncie.

“Cats are my favorite animal, so I’m really excited about it,” said Rachel Ollestad, a junior music education major. “It’s going to be an awesome opportunity for the cats to get adopted.”

In order to help pay for startup costs, Two Cats Café has set up a Kickstarter fundraiser to help pay for items such as litter, toys, beds and cleaning supplies. Each donation level has a different reward. By giving even $10, donors are guaranteed a VIP pass for two once the cafe opens.