On Saturday, July 15, Akron-native Nicole Farrell opened Whiskers & Wine Cat Lounge at 932 Kenmore Blvd. It’s the first cat café and wine bar to open in Ohio.
Nicole first had the idea for a cat café last summer and initially planned to open the Whiskers & Wine in Downtown Akron on South High Street earlier this year. When plans for the downtown location ultimately didn’t work out, members of the Better Kenmore CDC team were able to connect Nicole with a landlord who had a vacant storefront on Kenmore Blvd.
“We wanted to be in a community that needs the traffic. Where businesses have the opportunity to bring more people in and be lasting,” Nicole explained. “And our landlord here is phenomenal.”
Whiskers & Wine (as well as Nicole’s nonprofit organization Just Cats Rescue) is focused on finding senior, “bottle babies” and paralyzed cats forever homes. Recently, she rescued 20 cats from Central Arkansas that were on a euthanasia list.
Visitors to Whiskers & Wine have the opportunity to meet a number of adoptable cats, all of which have been spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and dewormed. There is a cover charge to visit with the cats - $10 for a half hour. The money goes to help Whiskers & Wine pay for the care of the animals.
But if you don’t feel like going into the cat room, Whiskers & Wine offers a café space for visitors to work, shop, enjoy free coffee, free tea, or purchase snacks and other beverages. Whiskers & Wine is awaiting its liquor permit and isn’t serving alcoholic beverages yet, but you can get one of Nicole’s signature mocktails in the meantime.
“Since we’re technically a bar you do have to be 18 or older to come to Whiskers & Wine, but we will have monthly kid’s days,” Nicole explained.
If you do find a cat you want to take home, Whiskers & Wine makes it easy and uses an adoption philosophy from the Humane Society of the United States called “Adopters Welcome.” The process requires you to answer a few simple questions through a conversation with staff to ensure you and your home are a good fit for the cat you are hoping to adopt.
“We're trying to place cats from a more holistic perspective,” Nicole said. “A lot of our adoptions thus far have been people that have been denied elsewhere, and a majority are people who are neurodivergent, maybe autistic, LGBTQ, or BIPOC who just do not feel welcome at other shelters. We want to make sure that you have a good adoption experience.”
Whiskers & Wine is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon until 8:00 p.m., Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Whiskers & Wine will host special experiences including performances, paint and sip events, jewelry making workshops, and monthly kid’s days. Like Whiskers & Wine Cat Lounge on Facebook to stay up to date on all upcoming events and happenings.
Whiskers & Wine does not accept cats off the street or drop offs, however, Nicole hopes to create a local coalition with other rescues, like One of a Kind Pets, to advocate for cats and their well-being in the near future.