The Coast News Group
Cat & Craft owners Caroline and Andrew Vaught at their Vista location. Courtesy photo
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Cat & Craft combines coffee, cats and lots of love

VISTA — Cats and coffee seem to go together — at least at Cat & Craft in Vista, thanks to owners Caroline and Andrew Vaught.

However, this is not a place where you can bring your own cat and hang out swigging a cup of the daily Joe.

No, the totally separate 1,500-square-foot Cat & Craft located at 3211 Business Park Drive, Suite 3B, which opened in January, is indeed a specialty coffee shop featuring local craft coffee and pastries.

However, there’s a twist.

Guests can pay to “foster” and play with an adoptable cat in the Cat Lounge for an hour at Cat & Craft in Vista. Courtesy photo

More than 800 square feet of the space is dedicated to a cage-free lounge space environment for adoptable cats who reside at Cat & Craft until their forever family comes along.

At press time there were 14 cats (there’s typically between 12 and 15) in the café ready to be adopted and to date 46 total have been adopted since the business opened.

“Our goal is to place 500 by January 2020,” said Caroline Vaught, who along with her husband once worked in corporate America. “Our cats get plenty of cozy snoozing spots, natural light and vertical climbing space, while guests who purchase access to the cat lounge can snag a comfy chair or cushion to enjoy their favorite beverage while meeting  and interacting with our foster felines.”

All the adoptable cats and kittens are socialized and are provided by the local nonprofit 501 c3 cat rescue LYFF. All foster felines are fully vaccinated, spayed, neutered and microchipped with 100 percent of the adoption fees going directly to LYFF.

Cat owners can have a cup of coffee and grab a bite to eat in full view of the Cat Lounge at Cat & Craft in Vista. Courtesy photo

According to Vaught the café was inspired by “our love of cats, as well as local handcrafted food and beverages. We created the Cat & Craft because we wanted to provide a place for the local  community to connect with each other and animals who need a loving home to call their own,” she said. “We knew this was our calling after realizing Andrew’s coffee expertise would pair perfectly with our shared loved of cats.”

She said it was their previous volunteer work with LYFF that led them to create the space after looking at 24 other properties in North County. They began their commitment to the project in 2017 and signed a lease in Vista in 2018.

“The city of Vista has been so supportive, so I believe we’ve landed where we were meant to be,” she said. “From a design perspective we wanted the space to attract those who are beyond just cat lovers. We’re hoping to attract people who are on the fence about adopting a cat or kitten; when we see someone like that who eventually adopts a cat it just warms our soul. We are thrilled to rehome these animals that are here and give them a new perspective and a second chance at life.”

Before you head out for a visit, however, you do have to pay $12 for the Cat Lounge.

Cats play together in the Cat Lounge at Cat & Craft in Vista. Courtesy photo

Your $12 per hour foster lounge reservations lets the café continue its mission of “finding its foster cats a second chance at a loving home.” Contributions help it to continue to maintain a safe, comfortable cage-free environment for the foster cats that is staffed with “knowledge, compassionate and hardworking team members,” Vaught said.

While reservations are recommended, they aren’t required to visit Cat & Craft. Only a small number of people are let into the Cat Lounge at a time out of respect for the cats and other visitors. No walk-ins when it is at full capacity either. Book at least one day before you would like to visit to ensure your spot when you arrive.

Children 6 years old are only permitted in the lounge during specially designated sessions.

Minors 7-14 years old must be accompanied in the lounge by a parent or legal guardian.

Minors 15-17 years old must have their waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian, but may enjoy the lounge unaccompanied.

And again, don’t bring your own cat as they are not allowed — yet, Vaught stressed.

As for the coffee shop it offers space for community members to gather, connect and enjoy hand-created coffees, drinks and food. It’s more of a kitchen and living room where you can unwind, chat and make new friends, feline and human, she said.

“Our space is dedicated to cats who do not have an awesome pet parent such as yourself,” Cat & Craft states.

“It is very rewarding when you get to see a magical connection happen between the animal and a person,” Vaught said. “We feel we are also creating another space for a cat coming in after one goes to its forever home with a new loving pet parent.”

Vaught said there are 265 cat cafes in North America. Cat Lounge is open daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.