Carmel’s first cat cafe opens on Gradle Drive 


At Pawz Pet Cafe, general manager Jenni Beesley aims to provide the perfect conditions for adoptable felines and the humans that visit them to relax and get to know each other. 

The cafe opened earlier this month at 481 Gradle Dr. in Carmel. It offers boba teas and sparkling waters that guests can purchase to sip as they visit with the 20 or so cats in a separate area. 

Beesley is a longtime volunteer with Paws on my Heart, a nonprofit cat rescue based in Carmel. Some of its rescued cats are housed at Petco on 116th Street, where they can interact with those interested in adopting them. But the number of available cats is greater than the capacity at Petco, Beesley said, and the visiting conditions aren’t always ideal. 

“The problem with adult cats is that they are often not able to express their full personality there,” Beesley said. “I’m not going to say that they’re expressing their full personality here, either, but they are not being put in cages and they’re not listening to dogs bark in the grooming salon right behind the wall. They’re not seeing dogs walk past their cage the whole time.” 

Brooke Mangum of Carmel plays with a cat in the Pawz Pet Cafe cat lounge. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh) 
Brooke Mangum of Carmel plays with a cat in the Pawz Pet Cafe cat lounge. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

Beesley, a Carmel resident, had long wanted to open a cat cafe and in 2022 launched a fundraiser to start Namaste Cat Cafe in Hamilton County. She soon realized her financial model wouldn’t work, so she put the plans on hold. 

Her dream to run a cat cafe was revived when she connected with Robert Zhao, who owns the building that now houses Pawz Pet Cafe. He had been looking to open a pet-related store and after connecting with Beesley, they decided to partner to open the first cat cafe in Carmel. 

The cost to visit the cat lounge is $10 for half an hour or $18 for one hour. Reservations are not required but can be made in advance online at The cafe is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. 

In addition to the cafe and lounge, the business sells pet toys and supplies and offers cat boarding. It is looking to hire a groomer for dogs and cats. The lounge may be rented out for gatherings, and separate party rooms provide space for guests to enjoy food away from the cats. 

All of the cats in the lounge are adoptable through Paws on my Heart. They have received several vaccines and have been spayed or neutered. Beesley said five cats had been adopted as of June 19, creating space for other felines to move in and find forever homes. 

“(The cafe) is a phenomenal place to come and hang out with people you love,” Beesley said. “By providing business to us it enables us to save lives.”