Where Lat­tés Meet Cat Cud­dles

Cat Cafés—mag­i­cal places where you can drink cof­fee, eat baked goods, and play with cats—are spread­ing across North Amer­ica.

Modern Cat - - Contents - BY ELISABETH FILL­MORE

Cat cafés—mag­i­cal places where you can drink cof­fee, eat baked goods, and play with cats—are spread­ing across North Amer­ica.

Cat cafés. You've likely heard of them. Prob­a­bly won­dered about them. Well, we're here to tell you to get your­self to your near­estarest cat café pronto! For the unini­ti­ated, a cat cafe is just what the name sug­gests: a place to drink cof­fee and eat ba­nana bread, like any or­di­nary café, but with one no­table, added su­per-bonus: there are cats. The cats, of course,co are the cat café's main at­trac­tion. They can be watched, played with, and, in some cases, even adopted. The con­ceptc of ad­ding adop­tion to the cafés is a new one, and largely unique to North Amer­ica. In 1998, when the world’s first cat café, Cat Flower Gar­den, opened in Taipei, Tai­wan, it was less for adop­tion, and more to play with cats. In metropoli­tan Asian cities, many apart­ments aren’t pet friendly so a cat café fills a real need for qual­ity kitty time de­sired­de­sir by cat lovers un­able to have pets of their own. Cat Flower Gar­denGard in­spired a boom of cat cafés in Ja­pan in the early 2000s, with the idea spread­ing to Europe, and, more re­cently North Amer­ica. The first cat café in North Amer­ica, Café des Chats Mon­tréal (Cat(C Café Mon­treal), opened in 2014. Lo­cated in Mon­treal's trendy PlateauP area, this quiet and warm café is a co­coon of com­fort for fe­line afi­ciona­dos. Yes, there are fancy snacks and cat-themed drinks, but house rules pri­or­i­tize cat wel­fare—pa­trons leave their shoes at the en­trance and san­i­tize their hands be­fore en­ter­ing. The cats’ in­de­pen­dence and pri­vacy is re­spected; pa­trons are

re­quested to watch the cats and qui­etly com­mu­ni­cate with them be­fore en­cour­ag­ing in­ter­ac­tion. And all of the cats are adopt­able, so if you fall in love, you could po­ten­tially bring your café buddy home.

Now, it seems the cat café has of­fi­cially ar­rived. In 2015, the phrase “cat café” was rec­og­nized by the on­line edi­tion of the Ox­ford English Dic­tio­nary. Need fur­ther proof? Last July, Adele stopped by Van­cou­ver, BC's Catfe, a cat-themed café that dou­bles as an adop­tion cen­ter for fe­lines. The staff were un­der­stand­ably thrilled—and sur­prised. “Adele showed up, last night,” re­ported Leona Mor­ri­son, a purrista at Catfe. “We had no idea she was com­ing.” The Grammy-win­ning singer was with her son and they ap­par­ently fell for Larry, one of the cafés cats. Catfe, which has been open 15 months, has fa­cil­i­tated 304 adop­tions to date.

Along with adop­tions, bev­er­ages with a cat twist are a com­mon theme among North Amer­i­can cat cafés. The latté art at Or­lando's Cat Café is a cute cat face rather than the leaf-like swirl that usu­ally adorns the top of your caf­feinated bev­er­age, and other fun snacks and food are on of­fer. Due to US food reg­u­la­tions and hy­giene laws, the café por­tion and the cat por­tion of the café are sep­a­rated, but you can bring your cof­fees and cakes next door to the cats if you want to. In or­der to in­ter­act with the cats, pa­trons make reser­va­tions on­line so the cats are never over­whelmed with too many peo­ple, and pay a nom­i­nal fee (rec­om­mended do­na­tion of $8) to spend an hour with the cats. The café has also or­ga­nized spe­cial events, such as screen­ings of TV shows, which al­lows pa­trons to watch TV while hang­ing out with cats. Ideal? We think so too.

Pur­ring­tons Cat Lounge, a cat café in Port­land, Ore­gon, goes even fur­ther with its cat pro­gram­ming. Once a month, Pur­ring­tons of­fers Purr Yoga. Ac­cord­ing to Pur­ring­tons, “yoga with cats is about joy, mix­ing en­ergy, and mak­ing it eas­ier to light the fire of com­pas­sion.” Dur­ing each one-and-half hour yoga class, the asana, or ac­tive part of prac­tice, spans the first hour and the re­main­ing 30 min­utes are spent al­low­ing prac­ti­tion­ers to “find their med­i­ta­tive seat and/or spend time to sim­ply en­joy shar­ing space and play­ing with the cats.” Purr Yoga is $20 per ses­sion, and pa­trons rave about it, cit­ing the wel­com­ing at­mos­phere for all yo­gis, from novice to ex­perts, as well as the joy of the 30 min­utes of down­time with the cats, many of who come out to play af­ter the ses­sion is fin­ished.

With their com­mu­nity-build­ing el­e­ment, cat cafés are def­i­nitely unique. They pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to spend time with cats, so­cial­ize with fel­low cats lovers, and per­haps even make new friends. And best of all, most of­fer a very cool, homey way for adopt­able cats to find for­ever homes out­side of the shel­ter sys­tem. Add to that a pos­si­ble Adele sight­ing and what could be bet­ter?

An adopt­able cat at Café des Chats Mon­tréal.

In­set from top: Van­cou­ver's Catfe, Or­lando's Cat Café, and Van­cou­ver's Catfe.

A latté at Van­cou­ver's Catfe.

The scene at Oak­land's cat cafe, Cat Town.

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