In just under eight weeks of being open, Dina Abdel-Hamid has watched 11 cats come and go from the cozy atmosphere of Meows Corner, a cat cafe in Sterling.
“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” she says. “And we’ve gotten a lot of love from the community.”
As the owner of the first cat cafe in Loudoun County, Abdel-Hamid was surprised by the outpouring of excitement and support for the location prior to the grand opening on July 6. The self-proclaimed animal lover had never even heard of the concept before visiting Richmond in December 2018.
“It was the first time I had ever seen what a cat cafe was and it kind of stuck in my head when I got home [to Loudoun County]. I liked the mix of running a business but also doing something to benefit an animal in need, so that got me to the point where I knew I had to do it,” says Abdel-Hamid.
Since the opening, guests have come to visit from near and far, and Abdel-Hamid has been grateful to offer them a community-based location that’s closer to home for many in NoVA, rather than Crumbs & Whiskers in Washington, DC, formerly the closest location to area residents.
“It’s easier to park here too,” she says.
The Sterling location offers 30-minute and hour-long sessions for visitors, as well as a space to enjoy coffee-based drinks and small desserts, as well as flip through cat-themed books. Then, guests can interact with the four-legged friends throughout the shared space with comfortable seating, interactive toys and cat lounge areas.
According to Abdel-Hamid, as the business reaches it’s two-month milestone, it’s time to continue focusing on adoptions and welcoming the community as much as possible through diverse events. She is currently planning open mic and trivia nights for upcoming months, and debuting cat yoga in the space in September with Gretchen Schuttle of Tulprana Yoga + Wellness .
“There have been a lot of ideas coming up, so the events schedule is the next phase of getting that community feel into the cafe,” says Abdel-Hamid.
The location has also started offering Purry Story time every Sunday, where children under the age of 6 (normally not admitted for safety concerns for both cats and the little humans), hear a story from a local author and get a chance to bond with the adoptable cafe residents.
And maybe one of them just might get to take home a new best friend. As the location has adopted out 11 furry friends already, more continue to stream in, get socialized and meet visitors while awaiting a purr-fect match.
“The ultimate goal is to find homes for all of our cats,” says Abdel-Hamid. “Some of the cats have been with me since before the opening, so I have definitely grown attached to them, and I feel like the cafe has become their home, but I would like to see them go somewhere more permanent, where they can stay forever.”
The location works with 4Paws Rescue for adoption processing, veterinary needs and obtaining more rescue cats as time progresses. Abdel-Hamid says the organization ensures that the cats are well taken care of prior to arrival, updated on vaccines and ready to be socialized the cafe environment. But still, the cafe offers something more to the cats than just a temporary home through the organization.
“A lot of the cats come from less-than-ideal situations where they’re either having a litter outside of a garbage dump or they’re in a hoarder’s home, or an owner can no longer take care of them,” says Abdel-Hamid. “Each one of the cats has a backstory, so it’s been really interesting to see some of our quieter, skittish cats come out and really blossom socially and also become super playful, where at the start they were fearful and hiding.”
Interested in adopting or looking for a new furry friend? Abdel-Hamid encourages guests (even those who may have never owned a cat before, or may be hesitant based on preconceived notions about the furry friends) to attend upcoming events, or take a chance and spend awhile in the space.
Staff are happy to introduce you to all of the friendly cats in residence, as well as the location’s first senior cat, Yoda. Abdel-Hamid hopes to find her a home after her owner surrendered her in mid-August.
But until then, Abdel-Hamid and the cats will continue to welcome the community into the space with hopes of sending all of their cats to safe and secure homes throughout NoVA. Regular hours at the cafe are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with a 30-minute visit costing $10, and one hour for $18, for all guests over 6 years old.
Stay tuned for event updates on Facebook, Instagram and by signing up for the location’s e-newsletter. // Meows Corner: Cascades Overlook Town Center, 21435 Epicerie Plaza, Suite 115, Sterling; $10-$18
Want to stay up to date on everything related to furry friends? Subscribe to our monthly Pets e-newsletter.