We mock what we don’t understand. Or at least I do.
I am, in many ways, a product of the era in which I was raised. From my sense of humor to the way I process the world, the amalgamation of personality traits that make me who I am is very much the result of nurture, not nature.
And so, when I come across a passion project like the Smoky Mountain Cat House, the first things I see are the things I was made to poke fun at.
And the well here is deep.
Cat socks. Cat jewelry. And lots of puns.
Honestly, the fact that I haven’t peppered this thing with cat puns so far is a testament to my own will power, but be forewarned at some point the dam will break, and the cat puns will rain down like hail.
The phone number ends in MEOW, for goodness sake.
But I’m trying harder now, as I grow older, to see past the cursory scan for easily mockable targets.
And so when I look at the Smoky Mountain Cat House, a passion project approaching 40 years in business on a little side street in Pigeon Forge, I see more than the things I can make fun of.
I see genius, and something of a miracle.
Imagine, taking a hobby, an interest or something you love and turning it into – not just a successful business – but a haven for like-minded people who share your passion.
Is there a cat cafe in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge?
The Smoky Mountain Cat House is located in Pigeon Forge, roughly 20-30 minutes from Gatlinburg. It’s not a cat cafe per se, but it is a place where you can shop, relax and pet some cats in the Great Smoky Mountains.
In 1985, Cheryl and Phil Anderson created the Cat House in the Smokies for cat lovers around the world.
The Cat House is a home away from home for “cat people” and an interesting curio for shoppers looking for unique gifts or souvenirs.
The Andersons, it seems, were generations ahead of their time. Long before Twitter and Instagram and TikTok were aflame with cat content, the Cat House welcomed visitors to share their cat pictures and stories with like-minded individuals.
“We feature the things that make us and our cats happy,” the store’s website reads, “but most of all we hope to be your home away from home where you can pet and play with a cat when you’re away from your own!”
The fact that the Cat House exists in a former residential home adds to the feeling that this is about something more than shopping. It feels like you’re visiting a friend who shares your feline passions.
Can you pet cats at the Smoky Mountain Cat House?
It’s also something of a cat sanctuary.
There are currently six cats that reside at the house, interacting with customers and doing cat things. And yes, you may pet them.
So what can you expect when you enter the Cat House or do a little cat shopping online?
I find it’s best not to expect anything, just to let the joyous cat cacophony wash over you in all its splendor.
What does the Smoky Mountain Cat House sell?
There are the aforementioned cat themed socks and cat jewelry. There are cat clothing lines and cat tights.
You can find the “crazy cat lady” lunchboxes for those who embrace the stereotype as well as several lines of purses, handbooks and checkbook covers.
There are cat clocks, cat wind chimes and cat bells.
For the culinarily brave, there’s a Fat Cat line of hot sauces, cat books and cat-themed art.
They have cat-themed rugs, pillows and flags as well as cat-themed items for your garden.
But they don’t stop at cat things for people. They have cat stuff for actual cats as well, like toys, cat grass, premium catnip, cat beds and supplies.
Items even include drinking fountains to keep your kitty’s water from getting stale in the bowl.
It is a catopia. The cat’s meow. This Cat House is purr-fectly created to meet every whim of your cat fancy. I’m not kitten, it’s pawsitively awesome.
Sorry, I couldn’t hold off any longer.
The Cat House is located at 3327 Old Mill Street in Pigeon Forge. The hours vary by season. To learn more, visit their website.
Have you been to the Smoky Mountain Cat House? Let us know in the comments.