Cat cafes are popping up all over

December 17, 2014 • 1:03 pm

by Greg Mayer

Cat cafes– places where you can get a cup of coffee, some pastry, and hang out with some cats (not the kind Adam Duritz had in mind, but the real thing)– have been around in Taiwan and Japan for some time, but they’re quite a new thing in North America. Jerry has been following and supporting the progress of one of the first, the Denver Cat Company, and it is now officially open. The owner, Sana Hamelin, has just sent word to us of some coverage they’ve received from Cafe Society, part of Denver Westword, a local news and culture website.

The interior of the Denver Cat Company, by Danielle Liriette, Cafe Society, Denver Westword.
The interior of the Denver Cat Company, by Danielle Liriette (Cafe Society, Denver Westword).

They’ve got coffee, books, art, and, of course, cats. The cats come from a local shelter, and are available for adoption. Far Eastern cat cafes are mostly an opportunity to interact with cats for people who like cats, but can’t have them at home due to lease restrictions. In America, while customers can just enjoy the cats with their coffee, there’s a definite emphasis on adoption, in order to find permanent homes for the cats. In addition to photos accompanying their article, Cafe Society has also posted a slideshow of the cafe.

A cat at the Denver Cat Company, by Danielle Liriette, Cafe Society, Denver Westword.
A cat at the Denver Cat Company, by Danielle Liriette (Cafe Society, Denver Westword).

An article in the New York Times highlights Cat Town Cafe & Adoption Center in Oakland, California, which was apparently the first cat cafe to open in the United States, although beating out Denver Cat Company and others by only a whisker. There’s now a cat cafe– Meow Parlour— in New York, and others have just opened or are in the works in Naples (Fla.), Toronto, Montreal (the first in North America, having opened this past September), Portland (Ore.), San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. Unlike the Denver Cat Company, at the Cat Town Cafe the cats are kept in a separate room (different cities have varying regulations on what you can serve in a room where an animal is), and you pay a fee to visit the cat room (which is the more usual arrangement in Far Eastern cat cafes). They’ve already adopted out over 50 cats.

The cat room at Cat Town Cafe, Oakland, CA, by Jim Wilson, New York Times.
The cat room at Cat Town Cafe, Oakland, CA, by Jim Wilson (New York Times).

My local pet shop, Havahart Pets, in addition to its own cats, always has a few cats from the Humane Society living at the store, where they are showcased for adoption. That’s where I met the Philosophickal Cat, Peyton, who after a few visits consented to come home with us. She had been so friendly to all the shop’s customers, that on a couple of occasions people who came to our door for one reason or another, on seeing her come to the door, asked “Is that Peyton?”, having first made her acquaintance at the pet shop. (She already had the name Peyton, and was known by it at the shop.)

So, support your local cat cafe, especially if you’re in or near Denver; Sana tells us that one WEIT reader has already stopped by.

14 thoughts on “Cat cafes are popping up all over

  1. Now that the weather is cooling, I’m getting way too much cat time. My relationship to the two cats that live here is one of mostly food and body heat.

  2. I remember reading news about cat cafe opened or opening soon in New York City on newspaper many months ago.

    Do you feel comfortable to touch the cat which has been touched by many hands? I feel a bit uncomfortable, but, perhaps I can’t resist, I still want to touch.

    Once a pit bull gave me sudden raid when I was teasing with it. Only one bit on finger, but is was so painful that pit bull is off my favorite dog chart… And, look at the ugly cutie bulldog, the bulldog lick :))…

    1. Do you feel comfortable to touch the cat which has been touched by many hands?

      I don’t know why you wouldn’t. Does cat hair have some special germ-propagating property that doorknobs and and the keypad you use with your credit card doesn’t? No? Then why worry about it?

      As for getting nipped…yes, that’s a hazard. They are quadrupeds without thumbs -they often use their mouths and teeth where we humans would use our voices or our opposable thumbs, for both communication and exploration. They can’t say ‘stop’ or push you away with their hands, they don’t have them…so they use their teeth. They can’t hug. Can’t kiss. So many cats give love bites. Its instinctual and very hard to completely eradicate from their behavior. Puppies can’t pick something up in their hands and feel its texture or density, so they gnaw on things the way our babies would grab them with their hands (I have always thought that punishing puppies for gnawing to be cruel. Its like punishing a baby for being curious merely because their curiosity is inconvenient for you. If you have objects you don’t want gnawed, put them out of reach for the several months it takes your puppy to get over it).

      The same thing is true if you play chase and pounce games with cat that has claws. Expect the occasional scratch; its part of how cats play those games.

      This is not to excuse dogs that bite or cats that swipe strangers without provocation, ‘out of the blue’ – that is unacceptable behavior. But if you can’t handle the occasional love bite, ‘stop doing that’ nip, or scratch when you are waving a feathery toy in front of a cat, then I would suggest that petting the cats/playing with the cats in the cat bar may not be the wisest choice.

  3. Ops … I wasn’t paying proper attention when I read the title of the post. I thought it read “Cats are pooping all over”.

  4. I would guess that the owner of the place has to put up some kind of notice or notices to comply with local or state laws. Kind of like all the warnings you see on a ladder, for example.

    Maybe people that are highly allergic to cats probably should not go in. It’s a great idea to get more people in front of cats for adoptions. A lot of people won’t go down to the local animal jail for some reason.

  5. Meanwhile, outside Pittsburgh, there’s a brewpub where dogs are welcome, or at least not automatically excluded. One frequent visitor is an extremely well-mannered Rottweiler that’s actually a service dog for an Iraq vet with PTSD. He and a friend’s Northern Inuit play well with each other and don’t cause too much unwanted commotion.

  6. My girlfriend and I are planning on making a trip to the Denver Cat Company (we are Denverites) once our schedules open up a bit.

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