The Cat Cafe
You have long enjoyed two things, a short foamy cappuccino and your little whiskered gentleman, Cheddar. You find that you long for that steamed milk beverage when you're at home yet can't help but long for Cheddar's nuzzles when perusing the espresso selection at your hip neighborhood java joint.
Fear no more cat-puccino lover, for cat cafes are here!
Cat cafes seem to be a new-found trend, but they have been around longer than you may think.
The History of Cat Cafes
Taipei, Taiwan is known for its natural beauty and rich history. A lesser known fact about The City of Azaleas is that it is home to the Cat Flower Garden. The Cat Flower Garden has been around for almost two decades, first opening its paw prodded doors in 1998. With it being a new way of experiencing both coffee and kittens, tourists from Japan, East Asia, and eventually The West visited the humble set-up to get their fill of meows and macchiatos.
Not long after, business-savvy men and women opened up their own cat cafes in Japan. Japan's first cat cafe, named Neko no Jikan - or Cat's Time, opened in Osaka 2004. Neko no Jikan was such a success that others followed, resulting in over 75 cat cafes in Japan by the end of 2010. Tokyo alone has over 50!
One of the reasons why cat cafes caught on so quickly in Japan is due to the relatively small land size and high population numbers. Most citizens live in small apartments and are forbidden from having felines in the foyer (or anywhere else in the apartment!).
Cat Cafes In The United States
It took a little longer for the first kitty cafe to make it to the Unites States. In fact, it was a race to the finish once all of the regulatory mumbo-jumbo was sorted out.
Cat Town, a cafe based out of Oakland raced against the clock against KitTea in San Fransisco. Cat Town ended up opening first, but that didn't stop both cafes from being massive successes in both nuzzling and guzzling down caffeinated beverages.
As of 2017 over 80 cat cafes have opened up across the United States, from San Fransisco to Salt Lake City to Charleston.
Cat cafes in the United States operate a little differently from their Asian counterparts, as food service regulations are very strict when it comes to domesticated animals in a food and beverage setting. Standards dictate that the food and beverage section must be separated from the area where your favorite latte is served. In addition, cats adopted from the separated area must contain an additional door to outside, preventing any furball to frappe interaction.
Adopting Cats In The Cafe
Cats are mostly a sleepy bunch, taking advantage of every rainy day that nature throws their way and napping clear through the evening. If you're anything like me, a cafe can leave me with a case of the sleeps and a need for nuzzles - making a cat cafe an ideal landing spot for introverts and extroverts alike.
Beyond being able to play with all of the mewing cat babies and sipping more cups of cream than you thought possible, cat cafes play a large role in facilitating adoptions. It provides an ample and comfortable space to connect with all of the kitties, see which suits you best, and bring home a fur-ever friend.
Often times, local animal shelters will work with a designated cat cafe and provide all of the lovely little kitties that coffee shop can handle! So just know that when you adopt a cat from a cafe, you're helping the entire community out.
Often times, felines housed in cafes are on a daily dose of probiotics for cats. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy digestive system, support a healthy immune system, and help to replenish bacteria lost after taking antibiotics - something that countless shelter cats have no choice but to take. Antibiotics are notorious for stripping the GI tract of all bacteria, both good and bad. Without the proper bacterial balance, issues may develop for little Meowser. This is why cat cafes and animal shelters alike are seeing and influx in human-grade probiotic powder for cats.
Cat cafes within the United States are particularly focused on partnering with local animal shelters. Cat Town reported that their partner shelter's euthanasia rate dropped by a staggering 20% - going from 41% to 21% - within the first 7 months of being open! This is not an isolated occurrence, as the majority of kitty cafes are driven to adopt out as many as possible.
With that said, cat cafes are not all sunshine and roses when it comes to how the public views them. The RSPCA and the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, two animal advocacy groups based out of the UK, are against feline involvement in coffee establishments, noting the large amount of people interacting with cats in a confined space may be harmful to the kitties.
Wherever you stand on the issue, we can all agree that there are far too many felines out there who need a good old adoption, so adopt a fur-baby right MEOW!