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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Meow is the time to visit H&J’s Tea House

Photo by Cade Gossett

A white cat rests with patrons at the H&J Tea House on Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022.

After one year of operation, an Aggie-operated business faces financial uncertainty and hopes to regain its footing with the help of the community.

Upon entering H&J’s Tea House, patrons will notice one thing that sets the tea house apart from others in the community: cats.

H&J’s Tea House is home to 21 cats of over 10 breeds for customers to mingle and play with while studying, hanging out or enjoying boba-filled tea. H&J Tea House owner Hao Ju thought of opening a cat cafe after visiting one in San Antonio.

“My fiance and I visited one last year in January,” Ju said. “I thought it would be something fun to do. I am originally from Asia where cat cafes are abundant, and I became inspired to bring this atmosphere to the community.”

The tea house has operated since August 2021, originally not even offering tea. The shop first opened as a place for community members to socialize with cats. The tea house’s manager, Olivia, remarked that the cat cafe has experienced significant changes since its opening.

“I started working [at H&J’s] before we even opened,” Olivia said. “We have gone through serious revamping since opening. We changed our waivers, added drinks in October and added more cats.”

H&J previously partnered with the Houston Humane Society, fostering some of the organization’s cats until they were adopted. However, a city ordinance passed requiring animal adoption only through state-operated, non-profit organizations. Now, all tea house cats are permanent residents under the shop’s ownership.

“Most cat cafes operate with cats as permanent residents,” Ju said. “This is best to keep the cats healthy and safe from diseases.”

When the cats are not taking a nap, they will seek attention from patrons in the form of activity or play. The cats all have very different personalities, Ju said.

“Prince is very people-oriented while Amber is activity oriented; she likes to play rather than be pet,” Ju said. “It all depends on the cat. Prince is a gentle giant, and Amber is really energetic.”

Olivia said her personal favorites were two affectionate cats: Sapphire and Mystique.

“I like Sapphire because he’s very receptive to being pet,” Olivia said. “Mystique always seems to pick me out in a crowd. She’s affectionate and will often sit in my lap.”

The cat cafe announced via their Facebook page that if they did not receive more business soon they would go under. Since their post, the shop has experienced an influx of customers and if numbers keep increasing, Olivia said their woes may soon be over.

“There was a huge rush last week after our announcement,” Olivia said. “So many customers came in one afternoon that we ran out of cups. We didn’t expect to receive that much demand. If traffic keeps up like this, we may be OK.”

The tea house has a special deal going on until Oct. 7 for returning customers who bring a new customer. Both patrons will receive a 50% discount on their purchases when visiting the shop.

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