Minnesota is currently only home to a couple of cat cafes, all located in the Twin Cities area. That is about to change as a brand new cat cafe plans to open in Northern Minnesota this spring.

Last summer, we learned that a passionate cat lover was planning on opening a cat cafe called Wired Whisker at 1823 E Superior Street in Duluth. As the owner and her husband have continued their work on this project, they're getting close to welcoming customers!

I got the opportunity recently to get a peek inside Wired Whisker as they finish up their complete remodel of the building, getting an idea of what to expect as they get ready to open in a matter of weeks. Here's what I learned on my visit and when they say they will be opening.

Meet Misha, the person behind Wired Whisker

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Misha and her husband are transplants to the Twin Ports area, moving from the Twin Cities area a few years ago. Like many who make Duluth home, they fell in love with the lake and the community.

The dream to open this cat cafe stems from a deep love for cats and a passion for finding adoptable cats homes. Misha and her husband have a long history of working with animal shelters and serving as a foster home for cats.

READ MORE: How can cat cafes be beneficial to both cats and people?

Misha explained that opening this cat cafe is very much a mission-driven passion project to help cats find homes in the Twin Ports area while also providing a unique community-oriented business and gathering space.

Opening this business is a definite career change from what she had previously been doing, but her previous connections in the animal shelter world and history with fostering cats made developing connections in the Duluth area easier to make this dream a reality.

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Wired Whisker will open with a partnership with Duluth's Animal Allies to help find homes for adoptable cats homes all while providing additional space for adoptable cats in the Duluth area and allowing people to interact with adoptable cats in a different environment.

As Misha connected with members of the Duluth community to start research on how to shape her business, she found the Twin Ports area to be a very passionate and welcoming pet community. She quickly found herself at home among the local pet community, using those connections to develop what Wired Whisker will be when it opens.

What will Wired Whisker offer?

Wired Whisker will have two distinct spaces, which Misha said was a conscious choice that goes way beyond just making sure health codes are met for the food and beverage side of the business. The entire space will be ADA-accessible, welcoming everyone to visit.

The street-adjacent part of the business will be a traditional coffee shop in many respects, offering coffee beverages, teas, smoothies, pressed juices, kombucha, hot chocolate, and nitro coffee.

In addition, baked goods from Positively Third Street Bakery will be available on-site as part of a small "grab-and-go" food offering that will also offer some other food items.

The coffee Wired Whisker will be serving is from a company called Kitty Town Coffee, which also helps feed cats in shelters. Misha says that for each pound of coffee the company sells, they make a donation that feeds a cat for a week.

Wired Whisker will also offer beer and wine, adding to the casual, relaxing hang-out vibe Misha is going for with the space. She says they will offer a selection of local beers, ciders, and wines, and she plans to have food trucks make regular stops to offer more food options beyond the in-store offerings.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Along with the ordering and food prep area (the enclosed area seen above), there will be a cozy seating space with a little fireplace along the storefront, next to the streetside windows (seen below).

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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The "back of the house" is the cat lounge area, which she describes as an enclosed living room-like space where people and cats will be able to mingle. Food and beverages sold in the shop will be allowed in the cat area with all beverages coming with lids and an expectation that visitors not feed cats the food items.

Misha highlighted that the entire building has been completely overhauled from its previous form, including the HVAC system, which she says meets the most stringent vet clinic standards to maintain health and safety.

What to expect from the cat lounge area

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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The image above shows an unfinished look at what will be the cat lounge area. About where the wood is on the sawhorses will be a floor-to-ceiling glass window to see inside the space, and the entryway on the right will be a two-door entry to prevent accidental cat escapes and provide visitors a place to hang coats.

The space will be set up like a living room, with lower seating like benches and beanbags for people to sit and enjoy time with the cats. Along the walls will be mounted areas for the cats to explore and hang out, and at the center of the room will be a giant 7-foot cat tree with a bench for people to sit near it.

Cats will be able to make their way from this public space to the back room, where they will be able to get food and water and be housed if they become overstimulated.

One of the common things a lot of people were excited about with this cat cafe is that it would be a place to bring your own cats, similar to how some restaurants have patio spaces where dogs are available. Misha said that this is unfortunately not a place to socialize your cat, out of health and safety concerns.

Cats are very territorial creatures, and the cats that will be in the cat cafe will be there based not only on medical clearance, but also on their personality being a fit for being around other cats and people.

People will be able to reserve time in the cat lounge in 50-minute intervals via their website. Walk-ups will be an option, based on availability. People looking to do a walk-up reservation will be able to arrange their time at the coffee counter in front.

The check-in and cat lounge experience

Groups will check in with a staff member or volunteer ahead of their designated time in the lounge. At that time, it will be verified that everyone has signed a waiver, which covers basic things about going into a room with cats. Misha recommends signing the waiver as part of your online booking process, but they can also be signed on-site before entering.

The space will have somewhere between 10 and 15 cats, which will be available for adoption via their partnership with Animal Allies. Misha says they are planning on opening their doors to start with kittens, but will be bringing in adult cats as well.

Misha says the plan is to limit the number of people in the space at any given time to up to 10, though she says if one large group books, she would be open to permitting up to maybe 15 people at once. This means that most experiences may be shared with a few other smaller groups, though the space is sizable, and the number of people she is limiting is based on the space and number of cats to make sure everyone has a good experience.

There will be an age minimum, with everyone needing to be at least 12 years old to enter the cat lounge. Misha says this is not only for the safety of the cats and visitors, but also for everyone's enjoyment. The goal for the entire space, including the cat lounge, is to be a peaceful, relaxing space. This is something they are considering with every choice for the business, from food and drink options to the color scheme and design of the space itself.

Adopting cats from Wired Whisker

At the heart of this whole business is finding adoptable cats homes. While people are welcome to come and enjoy time with the cats without any pressure to adopt, this space does offer people an opportunity to interact with these cats in a relaxed environment where you might decide you want to make one of them a member of your family.

Misha says that she has been working with Animal Allies on developing the process, which will start by meeting the cat at Wired Whisker, and will be concluded with the staff of Animal Allies. To start, the process will basically be that if you want to adopt one of the cats, you'll contact Animal Allies to place a hold on the cat, at which you'll go through their normal adoption process.

All of the cats adopted from Animal Allies will come with the same vet check and other pre-homing care you'd get adopting a cat directly from Animal Allies.

When will Wired Whisker open?

As you can see from the photos above, they're finalizing the remodeling process, which they say is moving along nicely. Misha says they will be concluding the finishing process of the remodel and revamping the exterior with plans to be open by the end of May.

In the meantime, they are also conducting interviews for staff for the coffee shop and volunteers for the cat lounge. Misha notes you need to be at least 18 years old for either, and you can get more information, including contact info, via the Wired Whisker website.

Misha says their current hours of operation are slated to be from 7 am to 7 pm, but is working with city officials to approve permitting to have hours from 6 am to 8 pm, which will allow people on their way to work to grab a quick coffee in the morning or enjoy an evening relaxing among the cats with a beer or wine after work.

What else can we expect from Wired Whisker?

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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Misha says she is looking forward to hosting some cat yoga events, "paint your pets" wine gatherings, and book club gatherings in partnership with Amazing Alonzo's Bookstore just down the block from Wired Whisker.

In addition, they are going to convert the outdoor space to the left of the building in the image above into an outdoor patio area. Outdoor seating, occasional live music, yoga, and an eventual 3-season enclosed cat yard are all part of the plans for the outdoor space alongside the building.

Everyday items that our pets love more than their expensive toys

We spend a fortune on brand new toys for our pets. Chances are that they will completely destroy those at some point. But before that destruction happens, there are some normal, everyday items that we have in our homes that our pets would rather play with. The best thing...these "toys" are usually way less expensive.

Gallery Credit: Jessica Williams

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