Ashley Brooks ’14 and Annaliese Hughes ’14 met during their freshman year as students in the Honors College at the College of Charleston, and once they discovered that they had a mutual affinity for felines, they became the best of friends. That love of cuddly kittens would eventually lead to the duo bringing the first cat cafe to Charleston.

Earlier this year, Hughes and Brooks (pictured left to right above) led a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring their vision to life.

“Throughout college, our running joke was that we should just drop out and start our own cat cafe, and while we never ended up dropping out (you’re welcome, mom and dad), we are finally starting our own cat cafe,” says Brooks, who majored in biology and women’s and gender studies.

The shop, Pounce Cat Cafe + Wine Bar, is expected to open soon at 283 Meeting St., which is just around the corner from campus. Students will be able to stop by, order a coffee, study, and play with a room full of kitties. (Visitors are strongly encouraged to make reservations on the company’s website.)

While attending George Washington University for graduate school, Brooks worked at Crumbs & Whiskers, one of the first cat cafes to open on the East Coast. That experience  as well as her design and marketing skills have been invaluable throughout the planning process.

For her part, Hughes, who majored in history with a minor in hospitality and tourism management, brings more than five years of customer service experience, formal training in Charleston’s hospitality and tourism industry and a background in bookkeeping and accounting. “We know we are the best people to make this cafe happen, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to make Pounce a reality,” says Hughes.

With the cafe space secured, tables in place, and a contract with Charleston Animal Society, Brooks and Hughes are hoping for a grand opening that’s, well, purr-fect.