A cat café is a themed café whose main attraction is cats. It is a form of supervised indoor pet rental. Patrons pay a cover fee and watch and interact with cats housed in the café. These cats are adoptable.
The world’s first café opened in Taipei in 1998. It eventually became a tourist attraction attracting tourists from around the world and obviously was popular with the locals as well. Then the idea blossomed in Japan where their first cat café opened in Osaka in 2004. One of the reasons they became so popular is because a large part of its population live in apartments and condos where pets are not allowed. Hence, cat cafes are a perfect way for people who want cat companionship and comfort to interact and play with the cats. There are even rabbit cafes springing up. After Tokyo opened its first cat café in 2005, the popularity of cat cafes boomed in Japan with 79 cafes opening from 2005-2010.
Cat Cafes feature strict rules to ensure cleanliness and animal welfare. Cats are kept away from excessive noise like children screaming or traffic. Cat cafés also seek to raise awareness of cat welfare issues, such as abandoned and stray cats and many often have cats from local animal shelters to help them lose any fear of humans and advertise them for possible adoption.
Cat cafés in the United States differ from those in many other countries by their focus on adoptions. Hundreds of animals have been adopted through their efforts. In some cases, adoptions are completed for customers visiting on vacation.
KitTea was the first cat café to open in San Francisco. They opened on June 25, 2015 and boast to be the first and only cat café in the city. Today they still continue to support cats from Wonder Cat Rescue and the ACC in SF. I plan on visiting this café next month with a cat-obsessed friend (like me) and can write a review on it if there is some interest.
The Cat Town Café opened in October 2014 in Oakland, California, is a cross between a coffee shop and an adoption center. They were soon followed in December 2014 by Planet Tails Cat Café in Naples, Florida and in quick succession by Denver Cat Company in Denver, Colorado, Meow Parlour in New York City, The Cat Café in San Diego, California , Purringtons Cat Lounge in Portland, Oregon, and Calico Nook in Franklin, Massachusetts.
In June 2015, Crumbs and Whiskers opened its first cat café in Washington, D.C., where it partnered with the local chapter of the Humane Society. This café provides a boarding space for around 15–25 cats at a time, all of which are provided by the Humane Society and made available for adoption. Crumbs and Whiskers subsequently opened its second café in Los Angeles, California in September 2016.
In May 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan, announced Happy Cat Cafe will open sometime in 2016. Last time we checked, it was still not open so do visit their website for the latest hours. In September 2015, a second café opened in New York City, called Koneko.
In May 2015, The Dancing Cat opened a café in San Jose, California as a temporary prototype. Originally intended for a one-month run, it extended its initial time period until November 15, 2015. Its original founders re-opened at the same location in May 2016 as an initiative of the Silicon Valley Pet Project, a nonprofit animal rescue organization. I have had a pleasure to visit this café twice since its opening. It is nestled in a residential neighborhood so it is in quite a serene and quiet place. You go in as a walk-in or sign-up online for an hour at a time and are free to spend as much time you would like. Coffee and tea is complimentary and you can purchase pastries or cakes from there. There are about 8-10 cats out at a time all needing a home. The decoration is colorful with the room filled with neon lanterns, a huge couch, and plenty of cat toys. You can easily spend up to two hours here reading, playing with the cats, or just chitchatting with friends. They even offer special events such as yoga with cats or cat photography that support the shelter. I went in a third time not to meet with the cats, but with a pet psychic. An insightful experience where I got one-on-one time with the psychic and she told me what was going on with my two lovely cats, Suri and Coco. I love this place-truly neat.
In October 2015, the Blue Cat Cafe opened in Austin, Texas, partnering with the Austin Humane Society as a cafe and adoption center. It has live music. In December 2015, Seattle, Washington opened its first cat café, called Seattle Meowtropolitan. In December 2015, the first cat cafe in Dallas, Texas —The Charming Cat Cafe—opened in Vista Ridge Mall, showcasing kitties from Kitty Save. In March 2016, Cat Cafe Mad opened in Madison, Wisconsin. In the summer of 2016, Ashley Brooks opened Pounce Cat Cafe + Wine Bar in Charleston, South Carolina. Pounce has partnered with the largest animal shelter in Charleston, Charleston Animal Society. In the summer of 2016, Kitty Brew Cafe opened in West Chester, Ohio, Kitty Brew will partner with the Butler County Animal Friend’s Humane Society to provide premium cafe drinks and a cat lounge to hang out with adoptable cats. They even have a loyalty program that will be starting soon. In September 2016, Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe opened in Columbus, Ohio, becoming the first cat café in Central Ohio. Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe has partnered with Capital Area Humane Society and Pattycake Bakery to provide a cat cafe and cat lounge with coffee, bakery, and adoptable cats. In September 2016, Catsbury Park Cat Cafe and Tea Lounge was approved by the zoning board of Asbury Park, New Jersey, and will become New Jersey first cat café so look out for that. On November 12, 2016, Mauhaus Cat Café and Lounge opened in St. Louis, Missouri.
We highly recommend supporting your local cat café even if you have a cat at home. These cats are not crated or caged yet like shelter cats want a home to call their own. If you can’t adopt a cat then just visit or donate which will cover the expenses of housing those lovely kitties. Also do check out the Cat Cafes websites before you visit. Due to the popularity of some, it can get crowded and/or sold out so book in advance. You can’t bring any of your own toys or treats, but don’t worry, there are plenty available in the café.
Happy Cat Café-ing!