Imagine sipping a large cup of your favorite beverage and cracking open a fresh-off-the-press book in the company of cats. Paradise, right?
Welcome to the cat cafe craze. The first modern cat cafe opened its doors in Taiwan in 1998. By 2005, the idea had migrated to Japan, and by 2010, that country was home to 79 cat cafes. Today, cat cafes stretch from Sydney to Seattle, Vancouver to Manila, and South Carolina to Dubai. NYC alone houses at least four cat cafes, enough to make the Wall Street Journal sit up and take notice.
What is a cat cafe? It's a themed cafe in which patrons can order food and drinks as well as play with the resident cats. In the US, health regulations prevent the cats from being in the food service area, so you buy your goodies in one spot and take them into a separate room to enjoy with the cats. At some cafes, the cats actually belong to nearby animal shelters and are available for adoption.
The Meow Parlour climbing wall, photo by Modkat.
Which is the best cat cafe? It all depends on on your tastes and preferred experiences. Stop by Bag of Nails in Bristol, UK for a cat pub experience, or hit up the Meow Parlor in NYC if cat adoption is in your plans. Love the Wild West? Head to Texas for a BBQ Briscat and a little feline fun at the Blue Cat Cafe in Austin.
Can I volunteer at a cat cafe? Absolutely! Many cat cafes welcome volunteers, and some are entirely volunteer run. Do an online search for "cat cafe near me," and check the websites for volunteer opportunities and applications.
Meow Parlour owners, Christina Ha and Emilie Legrand, photo by Modkat.
How can I open a cat cafe? Starting a cat cafe is much like any other entrepreneurial undertaking. You'll need to choose a name, create a business plan, find a location, and keep abreast of state and local regulations. If you are looking for a turnkey business, you can search for "cat cafe for sale" in your area. Starting on your own means answering questions such as: Will you have a wine bar, tea bar, or coffee bar? Will your cafe offer yoga with cats? Do you plan to bring in a dog or two to be more species inclusive? What brand theme will you choose?
Final thoughts. As with all enterprises involving domestic pets, make sure any cat cafe you patronize has the cats' health and happiness - not just profit - at the heart of its business.
Cat cafes can be a great way to adopt a cat, support fellow cat lovers in business, and relax after work. Do you have a favorite cat cafe near you? Tell us about it!
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