Midweek | February 15, 2023
By Ellise Kakazu
Pōpoki + Tea in Kaimukī is no ordinary café, as it is pouring a lot of aloha and care into the local pōpoki (Hawaiian for cat) community in addition to serving up delightful refreshments.
The café sells typical items such as teas, cookies and coffee. But unlike other spots, guests can sip on their beverage while watching — and playing and bonding with — adoptable cats.
Its food offerings, which are all made off-site, are treats in themselves, but Pōpoki + Tea’s furry friends are the main attractions.
According to Pōpoki + Tea owner and founder Liberty Peralta, her business fosters up to 20 cats at a time through a local nonprofit rescue organization.
“Our mission is to provide a safe and comfortable place for our cats and our guests to find each other, whether it’s for a moment (during a visit) or for a lifetime (through adoption),” states Peralta.
Since setting up shop on 3424 Wai‘alae Ave in 2020, Pōpoki + Tea has helped more than 530 cats find forever homes.
Peralta hopes to grow that number significantly as time goes on, because she recognizes the large number of free-roaming cats on the island’s streets is an issue.
“We’re very aware of O‘ahu’s free-roaming cat overpopulation, and that’s a problem caused by people, impulsive decisions, and a lack of awareness and afterthought about the consequences of those decisions,” Peralta says. “We strive to be a part of the solution through responsible adoptions and one-on-one education.”
Those interested in finding a feline to call their own are advised to visit Pōpoki + Tea to get hands-on time with the cats and learn more about them. Since bringing a pet into one’s home is a commitment, Peralta reminds the public to adopt responsibly and realistically.
“For adopters specifically, I encourage you to think long term,” she says. “Cats live an average of 16-20 years. What’s your game plan for your cat as you navigate through your life and how it might change along the way?”
These are some questions one can ponder while enjoying a Pōpoki + Tea cat experience. A 50-minute experience is $15 and a 30-minute session for walk-ins is available for $10. All cat lovers are welcome, whether they want to adopt or not.
“Our main source of income so we can continue to foster and find homes for our cats is through our paid cat café experiences,” Peralta shares.
Each visit and adoption brings Pōpoki + Tea closer to its goal, which is to “help ignite a passion for cats in our community, and to help spread awareness about cats in general and responsible cat ownership through our guest interactions.”
Peralta notes the cat café is celebrating its third year in business at the cozy brick-and-mortar shop this month, and she is thankful.
“We have built an incred- ible community,” she says. “Our No. 1 goal is to continue finding homes for more cats. Beyond that remains to be seen. I’m taking things one step at a time.”
One thing that is clear is Pōpoki + Tea is the “purr”-fect combination.
For more information, visit popokiandtea.com or call 808-425-4131. Follow Pōpoki + Tea on Instagram and Facebook (@popokiandtea).