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All About Cat Cafes: What Are They, Where to Find Them, and More!

Cat cafe

Attention all cat lovers! Do you love the vibe of a cozy spot where you can sip a delicious beverage, read a book, or chat with friends? What if friendly felines popped over for a visit while you relaxed and enjoyed your coffee or tea? When you go to a cat café, that’s exactly what you get. Sounds purrrfect, right?

What Is a Cat Café?

A cat café is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a café with cats. So you can walk into a cat café, order a coffee, sit at a table or perhaps a comfy couch, and enjoy your beverage. Or maybe flip open your laptop to tackle your latest work project.

The big difference? Be prepared for a furry feline to hop on top of your keyboard and turn it into their personal nap space. Or get ready to put down your novel to give an insistent kitty an ear rub. Of course, cats will be cats, so there’s always the chance that you won’t have any feline interactions if the cats decide they want to snooze the day away.

When you go into a cat café, you’ll see many things you’d expect to see in a coffee shop. Tables and chairs, laid-back seating areas, a counter, employees, a coffee bar, etc., in concert with whatever design theme the owners choose. But you also will probably see cat condos, cat trees, and, of course, multiple cats.

When Did Cat Cafés Start?

Cat cafés started in 1998 in Taipei, Taiwan, with the opening of Cat Flower Garden (now Café Dog & Cats, since a few Fidos wanted in on the fun). Over the next several years, Japanese tourists fell in love with the cat café concept, bringing the idea home with them.

The first cat café in Japan, Neko no Jikan, opened in 2004 in Osaka. Today, there are over 400 cat cafés spread across Asia. Europe joined the trend when Neko opened in Vienna in 2012.

The United States was a little late to the party due primarily to strict food service and zoning regulations. But they’re catching up, and according to a 2019 CNN article, there are approximately 125 cat cafés in the US. The first cat café in the United States, Cat Town Cafe, opened in 2014, in Oakland, California, as part of the nonprofit rescue group, Cat Town.

Where Do the Cats Come From?

Depending on the type of establishment, the felines in residence may live there permanently or temporarily. The cats could be the owner’s pets, rescued strays or a combination of the two. In some cases, some or all of the cats could be up for adoption if the café is partnered with a local shelter or rescue group.

Guests to the café may visit and play with the cats while they enjoy a beverage or snack. Very few cafés may even allow you to bring your own kitty, but this is rare. Also, you’ll likely have many rules and guidelines you need to follow, so never assume. And if your furry friend doesn’t like to share the spotlight, even if a place allows outside pets, it’s best to leave your pal at home.

Does It Cost Money to Go to a Cat Café?

Some cafés charge a cover to enter. This fee helps offset the costs of pet care, including cat food, supplies, and vet bills. You might get a beverage or light snack included with this cover charge.

Other establishments simply charge a little more for their menu items. Since each café has its own practices and rules, it’s always best to call ahead and know before you go.

Picture of a person holding a cat mug

Where Can I Find Cat Cafés in the US?

If the idea of visiting a cat café intrigues you, you’ll need to do a bit of planning first. Depending on where you live, you may have access to a few options, or there might not be any nearby. Meow Around has a comprehensive list of cat cafés in North America.

However, for various reasons, including high costs, strict health inspections, and backlash from animal rights groups, many cafés tend to have a high closure rate. Therefore, before planning any major journey, make sure the place you plan to visit is still an open and operating cat café.

5 Well-Known Cat Cafés in the United States

The Cat Town Café mentioned above (in Oakland) ranks high on the list of top cat cafés in the United States. But if you don’t have time to review the more than 125 US cat cafés, here are some other popular ones in the country.

1. Denver Cat Company

The Denver Cat Company is in Denver, Colorado. Visit with amiable cats that are ready for you to adopt them. Walk-ins are welcome, but if you book in advance, you’ll enjoy a reduced entrance fee.

2. The Witty Whisker

Head to St. Augustine, FL, to visit The Witty Whisker. Watch the cats play in their special zoned area as you sip your coffee, or pay a small fee to join in on the fun. The cats come from local nonprofit rescues and are up for adoption.

3. Black Cat Cafe

The Black Cat Cafe is in Devon, Pennsylvania, and puts 100% of its proceeds toward helping cats. Grab a drink or bite to eat, then head into the gift shop to check out the cute cats looking for a forever home.

4. The Casual Cat Cafe

In Richland Hills, Texas, The Casual Cat Cafe works with local rescues and shelters to showcase adoptable cats in their cute café. They also sell cat-themed merchandise, featuring pieces from local vendors.

5. Brooklyn Cat Cafe

New York state is home to several cat cafés, and the Brooklyn Cat Cafe is among one of the favorites. It’s the only non-profit of its kind in NYC. It serves as a community space and adoption center, with dedicated volunteers running the show.

A Quick Look at the Pros and Cons of Cat Cafés

Cat cafés have upsides and downsides. On a positive note, they provide a way for people to relax and destress thanks to the wonders of animal companionship. They also help cats in need since many cat cafés provide a home to strays and help with adoptions.

However, if not run properly, you could face health risks or similar concerns for you and the cats. As a general rule, health regulations call for food and beverage prep to be in a separate area from where the cats stay and play. Likewise, things like litter boxes and litter mats would preferably be in a location away from guests.

The environment could trigger allergic reactions in some visitors. Also, some cat cafés don’t allow children. If you plan to visit one of these intriguing feline-friendly locations, know the details and specific rules for that establishment.

A Final Look at Cat Cafés

If unwinding in a coffee shop as you mingle with friendly cat companions sounds like your cup of tea, then a cat café could be the place for you. These innovative businesses also allow you to learn about cats and when adoption is a possibility, see if they’re the right match for you.

In return, you shower precious kitties with affection and attention, helping them get comfortable around people. So grab your FurDozer and get ready to snuggle up with some new furry friends.

Want to learn more about all things cats (or dogs)? Check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog to see what’s brewing.



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