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Have you ever been hanging out at your favorite cafe or coffee shop and thought, “I wish I had a warm kitty purring in my lap right now”?
In many parts of the world, that wish can be a reality. At cat cafes, felines are free to roam about, mixing and mingling with their human counterparts.
These unique bistros offer cat lovers the chance to interact with a variety of kitties while enjoying food, beverages, and the camaraderie that comes with being amongst fellow feline fanatics.
The best part? Many of the cats found at cat cafes are available for adoption, giving them a better chance to connect with the right owners and find their forever homes.
Ready to have a cappuccino and play with a calico? How about some saké with a Siamese? Here’s what you need to know before you hit up that cat cafe.
The History of the Cat Cafe
Cat Flower Garden, the world’s first cat cafe, opened in 1998 in Taipei, Taiwan. It quickly became a popular destination for both tourists and locals, and the idea began to spread. Shortly after cafes such as The Cat’s Store and Neko no mise opened in Japan, the idea exploded. Today, you can find cat cafes in England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and more.
What initially inspired the idea was the fact that many apartments don’t allow pets. So when young urbanites in those countries were craving feline attention, they didn’t have an outlet. Cat cafes gave those young people a chance to find companionship with cats in a stress-free location.
Coming to America
Not surprisingly, there is certainly a market for cat cafes in America. However, governmental food service regulations were a roadblock. For instance, at U.S. cat cafes, the cat areas must be completely separated from the food and drink areas.
In 2014, Purina One and North Shore Animal League America teamed up to finally bring the cat cafe to America. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived: the temporary pop-up cafe in New York City was only open for four days. But the buzz was real — people waited in line for over two hours to get in on opening day! — and the cat cafe began to find more permanent roots in the U.S.
Here are some of our favorite American cat cafes:
- Cat Town Cafe (the first permanent cat cafe in the U.S.), Oakland, California
- Little Lions, Soho, New York
- The Cafe Meow, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Crumbs & Whiskers, Washington, DC
- Denver Cat Company, Denver, Colorado
- Purringtons Cat Lounge, Portland, Oregon
- KitTea, San Francisco, California
- Koneko, Manhattan, New York
As was the case with that first endeavor, American cat cafes focus on adoptions, and countless cats — and other animals — have found happy homes thanks to their efforts.
The Right Environment
Finding the right environment for a cat is extremely important, and it usually means integrating various aspects into one place. They need a refuge, proper cat furniture, scratching and visual stimulation, and plenty of space to frolic and play.
A cat cafe brings all of these aspects to one place. And when you frequent a cafe and get to know a cat, you’ll get to know what she likes, making it that much easier to provide the right environment if you decide to bring her home.
Helping Humans Interact With Cats
The point of the cat cafe is to create a bond between cats and people in a comfortable surrounding. People tend to misunderstand cats — labeling them as aloof, unloving, solitary, and/or selfish. Yes, the human-cat bonding experience can be complex. But with a balanced approach of effort and patience, you can establish a bond with a cat that’s based on mutual respect.
Cat cafes allow people opportunities to meet and greet with cats on a regular basis. True connections are fostered in a peaceful and serene environment, enhancing the human-cat bond while building trust between both parties.