Cats on display at new Cat Cafe, opening Friday in River District

By Karamie Sullivan

Cat lovers of West Columbia will soon have a new place to go see their favorite animal. Catitudes Cat Cafe will hold its grand opening Friday, at 118 State Street. Co-owners Maria Garcia Riopedre and Jaime Andres Ortega welcomed their first ten cats Tuesday. There will be another ten coming in before Friday. The cats were brought over from Pets Inc., and will be up for adoption by customers who come into the cafe.

Ortega and Garcia are a couple who are both from South Carolina. They decided to combine their knowledge of business and visual communications to create their new venture.

Ortega graduated from USC with an economics degree, and Garcia is still a current USC student, majoring in visual communications.

I was flying around for my job, working for corporate America, going to big cities, but I would miss Maria and I would miss her cat,” said Ortega. “So I just happened to pop into a cat cafe in one of the major cities, and I realized after I got back home that there just wasn’t one here to go to.”

According to Ortega, he and Maria saw a group of kittens by a dumpster at the Sonic in Columbia one night he was back in town, and they decided it was time to open up a cat cafe here in the Midlands.

The next day I drove to my job and put in my letter of resignation, and I dove head first into this,” said Ortega.

Garcia says it’s been a big undertaking while still finishing her degree, but she feels that this is what she is meant to do.

In all honesty, I feel like I just realized my true passion before graduating,” she said. “Our goal is to have so many people adopt the cats that we empty out shelters.” The cats will stay on the second story of the cafe, in the “cat lounge.”

There are multiple rooms where customers will be able to sit with the cats, including a study room, with desks and marker boards. The first floor will be where people can order coffee and desserts. Catitudes will open Friday at 10 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m.

Both Garcia and Ortega have put a lot of hours into the preparation of their new cafe, but they said they believe it is a cause worth investing in.

Every time were stressed we just say, ‘its for the kitties,and it makes it all worth it,” said Garcia.