Catpurrccinos Cat Cafe combines fresh pastry and coffee with a...

Catpurrccinos Cat Cafe combines fresh pastry and coffee with a cat-petting area. Credit: James Oliva Jr.

Not many cafes come with a sentinel, but a marbled gray-and-white cat named Apollo will give you a bold once-over as you take a first step in his lair at Catpurrcinos Cat Cafe in Huntington. Then, he will mostly ignore you as you settle in to an easy chair with a latte and a croissant.

Apollo is one of 29 cats who dart around the enclosed backroom of Catpurrcinos, playing with stuffed mice and scratching posts, dozing on towers or watching flat-screen televisions placed at cat-friendly heights. All are up for adoption, having been rescued by the nonprofit Feral to Family, but their space is separated by glass from the working part of the cafe. There, in an immaculate space with a Rational oven, a bakery case and a few tables, manager Christopher Cafiero bakes most pastry fresh each morning, from muffins to flaky puff pastry filled with varying blends of eggs, cheese, sausage, bacon and turkey.

Catpurrcinos, which opened in late November on Main Street in Huntington, represents the dovetailing of two passions of its owners, James Oliva and his daughter, Brittany Oliva. Years ago, James Oliva and his wife operated the now-closed Renaissance Gourmet in Huntington. And three years ago, Brittany Oliva began rescuing kittens from a feral colony and elsewhere, bringing them to vets and finding both foster and adoption homes for a growing roster of cats. After Feral to Family became a nonprofit earlier this year, the Olivas started working on plans for the cafe, partly as a way to find adoptive homes and partly as a way to cover the expenses of food, litter and veterinary care for the cats in their care, costs which run into the tens of thousands per year.

"Our idea was to piggyback our love of and knowledge of good food, and our love for animals, in a cafe business," said James Oliva. 

Coffee shops filled with cats first became popular in Japan, where they're called neko cafes and provide a venue for those living in rentals or small quarters to interact with pets. Catpurrcinos has formalized the setup by separating the coffee shop up front — with croissants, cinnamon rolls, coffee (from Hamptons Coffee Co.), a grilled cheese and breakfast sandwich bar, and separate ventilation. Through glass, customers can see the cat area, which also has a few tables and easy chairs scattered among cat towers, beds and scratching posts. To access it, you hand over a $15 donation, then pass through a sanitizing vestibule to mingle with the cats — some playful, some unimpressed by humans, and all of them up for adoption. 

"In our first few days, we've had eight adoptions," Oliva said. The 29 cats on premises, most of them under 2 years old, are only a small portion of the 104 currently being cared for by Feral to Family, he added.

Cafiero, who is engaged to Brittany Oliva, worked in delis for more than 10 years and oversees a baking and prepared food operation of pastries, breakfast sandwiches and grilled cheese, which come in complex combinations and start at $4.95. On the weekend, another family member comes in to make dozens of truffles in flavors such as chocolate peppermint and Oreo; the rest of the case is filled with muffins, cakes and other sweet things.

Catpurrcinos is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Catpurrcinos Cat Cafe, 322 Main St., Huntington. 631-944-3331.

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