Being from China, Hao Ju, and Joey Fu are familiar with the cat café concept that originated on the Asian continent. According to Mental Floss, the first cat café of our modern era, Cat Flower Garden, opened its Taipei, Taiwan doors in 1998. The concept spread, and more cat cafés popped up in Asian cities. But it was the cat cafés of Japan that caught the interest of the Western world.
Heavily embraced by Americans as well as many European cities, cat cafés offer the chance for people to relax with cats. For some, a visit to a cat café may be the first introduction to a cat that’s meant to be part of their family.
Whatever the reason people visit the feline residents of a cat café, they are places that offer stress relief and happiness. That relaxing happiness is part of the experience Hao and Joey hope to bring to the cat lovers visiting H&J’s Tea House.
The First Cat Café in Aggieland
When Hao and girlfriend, Joey, visited San Antonio, Texas, they encountered a cat café, but it wasn’t like the ones in Asia.
As Hao explained to KBTX, “We thought ‘we are from Asia, where cat cafes come from, we can definitely do a better one.’”
So, that’s what the pair set out to do, researching what it would take to open a cat café in College Station, Texas—known affectionately by Texas A&M University Aggies as Aggieland. As an agribusiness graduate student at the university, Hao felt his management classes had prepared him to bring the feline dream to life. And he was right.
Hao and Joey opened H&J’s Teahouse in late summer of 2021. Currently, 19 cats call the café home. Many of them are retired breeders or show cats, which leads to lots of fun feline antics around the tea house!
Eighteen of the kitties will call the café their forever home while one is available for adoption. Hao is hoping to grow the adoptable number by partnering with animal shelters in the region. But, as Hao explained, the idea of adopting a kitty at a cat café is different than the Asian cat café model.
“Back in Asia, all of the cats in the cafes are permanent residents. They don’t really offer adoptable cats, but that has proved to be pretty popular here, and people keep asking if our cats are adoptable or not.”
“We are looking to partner with some animal shelters in Houston or Bryan to see if they would like to let us have some of their cats, but let them do all the paperwork and stuff,” Hao told The Battalion. “We’re basically going to be a foster home.”
Playing with Kitties Helps Cats in Need
Visitors to the café can pay by the hourly or half-hourly rate and then enjoy all the cat shenanigans they can handle!
“They can expect a full cat experience,” said Hao. “The customers get in, they play with the cats, they feed the cats, and they can groom the cats.”
What makes this time with felines even more satisfying? Twice a month, H&J’s Teahouse donates 25% percent of their proceeds to Aggieland Humane Society, which means hanging out with cats leads to helping save them too!
So, if you find yourself in the College Station area, head to H&J’s Teahouse to play with cats and enjoy a boba milk tea. Check out Facebook for more info.