Coffee With Kitty — Visit A Cat Café

While you might meet the cat of your dreams at a cat café, they are also a great singles mixer. And you already know that one non-negotiable item has been met — that your potential significant other likes cats.

Cat café history

The first cat café opened in Taiwan in 1998, and soon became popular throughout Asia. Japanese landlords often don’t permit pets, so cat cafés became the place to go for young people to get a feline fix. The concept soon spread to Europe, and you can visit cat cafés in Paris, London, Madrid, Copenhagen, Vienna and other major cities.

The first cat café in the United States opened just two years ago in Oakland, California. The Bay Area is now home to several cat cafés, as is New York City, Denver, Portland and Washington, D.C. In Canada, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver all have coffee shops devoted to felines.


Many cat café entrepreneurs rely at least partially on crowdfunding to start their businesses. Not all raise enough money, but cat lovers are undaunted. Sooner or later, they will find the right location and partner with the right rescue to make their cat café dream a reality.

Entrance fees

Although fees vary, actually spending quality time with cats generally requires a separate fee and reservations in advance. Too many people at once will only stress kitties. In other instances, the café section may have longer hours than the cat room. That makes sense — cats need their rest and don’t want constant disruption.

Adoptable felines

At the majority of cat cafés — as opposed to the café that may have a resident feline or two — the animals are available for adoption. Whether or not the cats are available for adoption is usually clearly stated. Cat café owners partner with rescues and shelters to supply friendly, adoptable felines. The cats are all spayed, neutered and vaccinated, and receive some type of flea control treatment.

Unlike a shelter environment, or even pet adoption sites such as pet stores, the atmosphere in a cat café play area is very relaxed. This brings out the best in cats, and shows them off to their advantage. Cats staying in a cat café get along with other felines, so that’s a consideration if you already have a cat at home and want to find him a companion.

Board of health rules

Depending on local laws, you might not be allowed to eat or drink in the vicinity of cats. Instead, you place your order, and either consume your food and beverage first before entering the cat playroom, or vice versa. In New York City, regulations don’t permit selling food where animals are present, so cat café owners must have the cats in a separate location. That might mean a storefront next door, or a section of the café separated by a glass wall and accessible by an outside door.

Cat therapy

If you’re feeling blue, there’s nothing like a little cat therapy to make you feel better. That’s the attraction of cat cafés for some folks, especially those whose current situation doesn’t allow for pets. If you’re traveling and miss your kitties, stop in at a cat café, stroke some fur and listen to purring. Nothing soothes the soul like a cat in your lap. Some cafés offer feline meditation, which apparently means meditating in the presence of cats, not the other way around… although it’s hard to tell.

If you’re a dog rather than a cat person, your choices are more limited. Currently, they are limited to exactly one: The Dog Café in Los Angeles. You can enjoy your beverage — no food is served because of the “proximity to dogs,” and play with rescue dogs up for adoption. Reservations are required, and available dogs are listed on the café website.

—Jane Meggitt


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