'Happiness is only one cat away' at Coffee Cats in Valley Junction, Iowa's first 'catfe'

If you believe that "Happiness is only one cat away", then you need to pay a visit to Coffee Cats.

Valley Junction is the historic 'Main Street' area of West Des Moines. The old buildings are full of restaurants, bars, antique stores, galleries, boutiques, and much more. It's a great place to do some serious shopping, if that is your sort of thing.

But now, in addition to all the great existing businesses, Valley Junction is also home to Iowa's first cat cafe, or 'catfe', as they are sometimes referred to. Coffee Cats opened earlier this summer.

Every Thursday during the summer months, Valley Junction holds a weekly farmers' market. After a recent visit, my brother (a big time cat lover) and I popped in to check out the place and find out why Coffee Cats is fast becoming Des Moines' area cat lovers equivalent of catnip.

Coffee Cats occupies a building on the northern end of the business on the western side of the northern end of the business district. It's a building that looks as if it might have once been a house or even a church at one time.

I don't know if they are planning to add any larger signage in the future, but they do have a sign on the door.

There is also usually a portable sign out front when it is open.

Once inside the building, you enter into a nice foyer with a set of stairs to the second floor. I believe there are other tenants who have offices up there.

You do not need to go up the stairs. Instead, you proceed straight ahead into another smaller room where there is a large white counter. This is the reservations check-in. In order to actually hang out with the kitties, you need to have a reservation and you can make that reservation online. It will cost you a few dollars per person and cost varies in total depending on how long you choose to enjoy the company of the cats. Because cats can sometimes be a scratchy or bitey, they also make you sign a waiver.

The "cat lounge" is where all the cats hang out and at any given time, they have 10 to 12 in the space. The number of cats is always changing. Why? Because you can pay a fee to adopt them and give them a forever home. Coffee Cats has a partnership with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), the premier pet rescue and adoption agency in Central Iowa. I know that in just a few short weeks, a few dozen cats have already been adopted from Coffee Cats. It's very heartwarming to hear that news.

Because of COVID-19, they are limiting the number of people that can be in the lounge at any given time. My brother and I were able to secure two 15 minute slots, which cost us each a couple of dollars plus tax. Inside the lounge, you find that it is an absolute paradise for cats.

It's temperature controlled, there's food, water, and litter boxes all over, and there are windows, chairs, boxes, ledges, and more to take cat naps in or on. There are all kinds of toys to play with. Not to mention, if you are a cat that likes people, there's no shortage of prrrrr inducing human snuggles being offered

There's even cat-friendly sounds being pumped through the television.

If for some reason you get bored with the cats, there is a book shelf with books (a lot of them about cats) to entertain yourself.

Of course, there are "ground rules" and and they have a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Perhaps the best part of the room is the huge bay window that lets in marvelous sunshine. If you don't want to go into the building, you can usually see a few cats by peering into the window from outside. However, they kindly ask that you do not tap on the window.

So the cats part of Coffee Cats has been discussed, but I thought this was a cafe too? It is. They have an impressive coffee shop cafe that offers a wide range of different hot and cold beverages as well as different baked goods and desserts.

The menu is very similar to what you would expect of any modern coffee shop, though they have made a few cat references for good measure. For example, I ordered the "peppermint meow mocha" and it was very well done.

I always order my coffee drinks extra hot and they did a great job making that happen.

There is a nice selection of sweets and you can even also buy some merchandise as well.

Can you come into the cafe even if you don't want to visit the cat lounge? The answer is yes.

In fact, they have a nice area with several tables and chairs that you can enjoy. They also have a counter with bar-height stools that allows you enjoy the cats through a large glass window. I think they have pretty good WiFi and so it would not be a bad place to go and study, meet up with a friend, or perhaps even write your Iowa travel blog.

Many different cats have already been adopted as a result of being introduced to their owners in this setting. In fact, on the night of my visit, a nice little orange kitten was getting ready to go home with a couple. I don't know what the adoption fees are, but I'm sure that is something the friendly staff can assist you with. It's a creative way to both provide a good coffee shop business and do some good by pairing cuddly cats with eager owners. If you've been interested in adopting a cat, this concept might be a good way to get to get to know a cat in a very relaxed setting.

However, if a fury feline is not in your future, you can at least come in and get a god cup of coffee and enjoy a truly one-of-a-kind 'catfe' experience. A "Catfe" is not a new concept as plenty of other states have at least one. However, it is...as of now...the only one you'll find in our great state.

As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Polk County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.