I have been familiar with cat cafes for several years, as the concept of running a cafe where people could drink java and commune with cats first occurred to me in the early 1980s, before such things existed. It was a good idea before its time.
Now, however, cat cafes have opened all over Japan, Korea, and other parts of the Far East, and are slowly invading Europe. I’ve visited one, the Neko cafe in Vienna, where I had a great time drinking cappuccino and playing with the resident cats (they provide feathers and toys). What can be more relaxing that that? And who can forget (if you’ve been here a while) the report of reader Amy (once our Official Japanese Correspondent™ on her visit to a “neko cafe” in Yokohama, “An afternoon at the Neko Cafe Leon“?
Yesterday I put out a call for readers to learn about what may be North America’s first cat cafe, The Denver Cat Company, which is in the very earliest stages of planning but already has a great website. That bodes well for the enterprise, and I urged readers to donate, offering a free autographed book (with cat drawn in) for every $175 donation. One reader took me up on that, but several others contributed as well, with the result that the funds went from $75 to $1105 in one day. That’s a big leap, and I’m sure the readers here are largely responsible—so many thanks! (The offer of a book still stands, by the way.) The goal remains $50,000, but they’ve sworn to open regardless of the funding.
If you want to donate to help them (and there are rewards for doing so), you can go here. (You can donate as little as $5). But if you are tapped out, or not near Denver, I’m asking readers to simply share the place on Facebook or Twitter to give it some publicity. The website in full form is
They’re not using Kickstarter or Indiegogo for reasons explained on the site. On its blog, Sana Hamelin explained why she gave up a lucrative job in corporate law to open the cafe, which is her dream. I like this part, especially what I’ve put in bold:
It’s an extremely privileged decision to make, but it comes at certain costs. I don’t own a house, have a nice car, or a well-funded IRA, and I no longer have the kind of career that predictably leads to those things. And they are nice things to have, no question, but I decided my time belonging to myself was more important to me, and I am happy to let the future take care of itself. The fact that I have never wanted kids makes the decision to be “irresponsible” a little easier as well. I can shift for myself pretty much under any conditions as long as I have my health.
I’m writing about this because it provides some context for why a corporate lawyer would change direction so soon after working very hard for, and having potential for success at, a worthwhile career. More importantly, it signals a certain philosophical shift that I am finding myself incorporating into Denver Cat Company. I wish to promote the stuff of The Good Life. Books. Leisure. Art. Conversation. Friendship. Community. Time. Empty time with cats, nature’s premier zen masters, who teach us what it means to live for and in the moment, hedonistically lapping up every ounce of comfort and enjoyment that life offers.
We could do worse than live like cats (i.e., cats owned by somebody), although of course we won’t have staff unless we’re either rich or exploiting other people (as cats do). But at least we can take a while to visit such places, have a nice cup of coffee, and play with the cats. It’s great therapy, and some of the cats will be up for adoption—taken from shelters where they’d be euthanized. So please take a moment and just share the link on social media, and, if you have the dosh, throw a few bucks their way.
I’m not sure why I’m promoting the cafe of my own volition, except that if we can help someone realize their dream, especially if it involves cats, we should do so. Also, I’m selfish and want to visit it some day.
Here are thee photos that I’ve never published of my relaxing afternoon at the Neko Cafe in Vienna:
A friendly resident shared my table:
They have platforms and walkways on the wall. This woman discovered, to her delight, that a huge, furry tomcat was sitting right above her: