By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jan 09, 2018 at 10:17 AM

In August, we shared the news about plans for Sip & Purr Cat Cafe, Milwaukee’s first interactive adoption center and eatery. 

Today we have news that the cafe has found a home on Milwaukee’s East Side at 2021 E. Ivanhoe Pl. Fittingly, the cafe will be adjacent to Black Cat Alley, an open-air gallery featuring murals from some of the city’s best artists. The space was formerly East Side Gallery & Framing Shop, and earlier, was part of Oriental Drugs.

The new cafe, which is slated to open in late spring or early summer, will be owned and operated by Katy McHugh, an avid cat lover whose experience in Amsterdam prompted her to create a similar experience at home in Milwaukee.

McHugh says the location for the cat cafe was prompted by a message on Twitter from building owner Tim Gokhman, who saw the article at OnMilwaukee and wondered if she was interested in the property. And, as it turns out, 1,800-square foot space was a purr-fect fit.

"The East Side is really an ideal spot," notes McHugh. "There are no neighborhood cat adoption centers in the area. So, we’ll really be providing a service to people in the area. I think it’s also an advantage to be in proximity to UW-Milwaukee; they’ve proven that spending time with cats reduces stress, so this could be a haven for students who are working on papers or studying for exams."

Sip & Purr announced its location in a Facebook Live video on Tuesday morning:

The new cafe will feature two separate rooms – a cat-free cafe and an interactive cat lounge where folks can enjoy time with a group of 8-12 felines from the Lakeland Animal Shelter in Delavan.

Lakeland is unique in the sense that they’ve been operating under an open colony concept for 15 years. As a result, cats from the shelter are well-socialized thanks to regular interactions with other cats and prospective adoptive families. That’s a win-win for the cat cafe, which will offer cats for adoption. The cats from Lakeland will come to the cafe fully vetted and ready for new homes, having already been spayed, neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped.

"The folks from Lakeland have been so supportive of the idea," notes McHugh. "They’re currently in the process of finishing and moving into a new facility, which will include a number of new cat adoption rooms, including a kitten nursery."

Construction on the new cat cafe is slated to begin soon. And McHugh says there’s a lot to love about the prospective venue, including the fact that the Eastern windows are open to Black Cat Alley, allowing visitors to see inside the cat lounge area (and vice-versa).

The space itself, she says, will be warm and welcoming, combining modern accents with exposed brick walls and a variety of classic decor.

"I really want to combine the old with the new," she says. "The idea is to capture some of the spirit of the old East Side and pair it with modern, industrial elements that I’ve found at coffee shops and cafes throughout my travels."

McHugh says she also plans to reach out to one of the Black Cat Alley artists to create a mural for one wall of the cafe. She says she’s also planning a trip back to Amsterdam to purchase art from the KattenKabinet cat museum.

Currently, McHugh is interviewing staff for the cafe, including baristas, kitchen help and cat lounge concierges. Interested parties can send an email to

"I’m very committed to bringing on the best possible employees," McHugh notes. "They really have to be people who share my vision of what this cafe can be."

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.