A Lower Hutt cat cafe has reached a new milestone - adopting out 100 cats and kittens to loving homes.
Neko Ngeru Cat Adoption Cafe in Petone specialises in rehoming rescued and abandoned cats, which people can spend time with while relaxing with a coffee.
After two and a half years of operation, the cafe recently reached its 100th adopted cat.
"We could have done it more quickly, but it is important that we do it carefully," said co-owner Richelle Okada, who manages the screening of applicants.
"We get a sense for how an applicant interacts with the cats in the cafe and observe how the cat they want interacts with them, but more importantly, we try to match the cat's temperament and preferences with what the new home seems to offer."
The cats spend at least a month at the cafe so they can be fully assessed. Applications are accepted during that time.
"It's not first-come-first-served but more of a best match approach," Okada said.
The cats come to the cafe from small rescue groups, and some are surrendered by members of the public.
Some of the cats are former ferals that have been socialised, semi ferals that have been trapped and tamed, or are kittens that cannot be cared for properly by their owners.
The costs of caring for the cats, desexing, vaccinating, and providing other needed operations is not fully covered by adoption costs.
To combat this, the cafe employs a small door charge to enter the cat room, which helps Neko Ngeru pay for most of what the cats need. Sales from food, drink and merchandise go towards the rest of the costs.
"We are not a charity," said co-owner Ken Okada. "We want to make it work as a business - a social enterprise in a way."
Neko Ngeru battled through lockdown and the subsequent alert levels by delivering cat food and litter, then by doing take out and delivery of their authentic Japanese sushi and onigiri.
"We would not have survived without our loyal customers and we are grateful. We just want to be able to keep on going, helping more and more cats find good homes."