By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
Cat cafés have become popular around the world, and many are popping up in the US. Besides just caffeinated beverages, these cafés offer furry felines for you to snuggle and play with.
And cat cafés aren’t just for entertainment. Many cat cafés actively support cat rescues by bringing rescue cats into the café. This helps make room at the rescues for more felines and provides the cats at the cafés greater visibility for adoption.
When visiting a cat café, you’re also helping the kitties by providing them with socialization and playtime. And if you fall in love with one, you can even adopt them and take them home.
All cat cafés must conform to local health codes; if the café sells food and drink, it most likely is separated by glass so you can watch the kitties while grabbing a bite to eat. Others don’t sell food or drink, but allow you to bring your own.
Many cat cafés also offer special events, such as yoga classes with cats, and allow you to book the café for a special event, such as a shower or party. Check with each café for hours and special events.
Here are five fun cat cafés around the country to add to your vacation itinerary:
Le Cat Café was founded by Kathy Jordan, who also founded Green Street Rescue, a nonprofit organization that provides care for homeless cats from the streets of Philadelphia. Green Street Rescue practices TNRM (trap, neuter, return, manage) for the feral cat communities in the city; however, they also take in friendly homeless cats and bring them to Le Cat Café to help them find forever homes.
The café opened in 2016, and their volunteer staff has adopted out over 600 felines since. “Our cat café is about the cats gaining exposure so they can find homes and have a comfortable place to lounge,” says Jordan.
If you love Paris, you’ll love Le Cat Café. Their decor creates the feeling of a Parisian café, and there is even a 7-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower in the front window. Once inside, you can watch dozens of resident kitties climb and run across the rafters, or you might want to play with them using some of their favorite cat toys. “I’ve never met a cat who doesn’t love a good toy,” says Jordan.
There is a fee to play with the cats and reservations are encouraged, but walk-ins are accepted.
KitTea Cat Café is one of the oldest cat cafés in the United States. “We were able to officially open our doors to the public in June 2015, but KitTea was established in late 2013,” says Courtney Hatt, the café’s founder. “At that time there weren’t any cat cafés in the USA for us to look to for advice.”
Since that time, the KitTea Cat Café, which Hatt describes as “very Zen, light and airy with touches of playfulness” has advised some of the other cafés around the country on what makes a good cat café work.
KitTea Cat Café acts as the forever home for about 13 permanent residents, but they’ve worked with numerous cat rescues, including Wonder Cat Rescue, to feature adoptable kitties. They’ve provided sanctuary to many cats that were considered unadoptable.
People come in and play with the felines for an hourly fee. Hatt says the kitties go mad for a cactus filled with catnip like the OurPets Prickles cactus cat toy, and the ever-popular Cat Dancer Charmer toy.
Those who are allergic to cats or want to get something to eat can sit in the café section and watch the kitties through the glass. “This is a Zen sanctuary for cats, but also for the people who enjoy them,” says Hatt.
Reservations are suggested.
Mauhaus Cat Café and Lounge, located near St. Louis, Missouri, partners with Stray Haven Rescue, a rescue that takes in felines from high-kill shelters in the area. In addition to the 18 cats up for adoption at the café at any given time, Mauhaus is also home to two resident kitties, Taylor and Lorelei.
Ben Triola and Dana Huth founded the café in 2016 after visiting a cat café during a trip to Thailand in 2015. “People can come in from a busy day and just chill and relax,” says Triola. “We try to create a magical experience.” Triola adds that many people are surprised to find it, as there aren’t many cat cafés in the Midwest. “Many people have never been to someplace like this, and we try to give them a boutique café experience.”
Triola even suggests that “dog people” give it a try. “Many people say they’re ‘dog people,’ and 15 minutes later, they have multiple cats on them; it’s like the cats know who they need to win over,” says Triola.
Mauhaus charges a fee to play with the cats with toys like the SmartyKat Fuzz Bugs catnip cat toy. Packages are available for one-hour reservations that include food and drink purchased in the café.
Walk-ins are accepted, if space allows.
Denver Cat Company has helped over 700 felines find forever homes in the four years since opening its doors, says Leila Qari, owner and operator. Qari says that Denver Cat Company isn’t set up like other cat cafés.
At Denver Cat Company cat café, you can either pay a one-time fee for the day, or you can purchase one of their membership options that will allow you unlimited visits monthly or annually. Membership also offers other perks, like the ability to bring a guest or invitations to events.
If you choose to just visit for the day, there is no limit on the amount of time you can spend with the kitties. They also do not accept reservations; the café is walk-in only.
Qari says people who come in love the warm, cozy and colorful atmosphere. “We get great reviews and feedback,” says Qari.
Benjamin Kalb, founder of Koneko Café, was inspired by the cat cafés in Japan. He decided in 2015 to start his own in New York City. “I did a research trip to Japan where I visited over thirty cat cafés,” says Kalb.
There are between 15 and 20 cats wandering around the cattery portion of the café at any given time. All the feline residents come from the café’s cat rescue partner, Anjellicle Cats Rescue. Koneko Café has helped 400 cats find forever homes.
Koneko Café has a separate area where patrons may order coffee, tea, beer, wine, sake and small, Japanese-inspired bites. The cattery has two floors as well as an outdoor catio. Patrons may take food into the cattery portion, where there is a fee to play with the cats or simply watch them climb the many cat trees.
“Koneko’s cattery was designed first and foremost for cats, to maximize their comfort and create a fun and easy space for guests to interact with them,” says Kalb. “We favor minimal, functional design.”
Reservations are recommended.