BY: SINEAD MULHERN
Get ready for the purr-fect coffee date.
With the days getting shorter and the evenings getting frostier, there’s perhaps no better way to spend a late-fall day than with a cup of cocoa in your hand and a cat on your lap.
If you haven’t heard yet, Cat Cafés are the perfect combination of caffeine and cuddles, where everyone gets to be a crazy cat lady without the social stigma. In fact, with the first one coming to Canada this year, Cat Cafés may just have saved winter.
Café des Chats, North America’s first cat coffee shop, opened in Montreal at the end of August. The premise behind trending Cat Cafés is simple: They are a pet adoption/coffee shop hybrid. Get your caffeine fix and get cozy with one of the establishment’s purring felines while you’re at it. If you’re looking for a companion to bring home, get to know your new friend over a leisurely latte and see if you’re a fit before you adopt. These coffee shops provide these fuzzy buddies for you. That means most often, you’re not allowed to bring your own pet out for a coffee date with you.
This business idea has now become a global trend and started in 1998 in Taipei with Cat Flower Garden. But it was in Japan that the trend really got its legs. The country now has over 100 coffee shops of this kind (even rabbit and goat cafes have made their way into the mix). The first one, Neko no Mise (Shop of Cats), opened its doors in 2005. South Korea and China have their own litter of cafes to brag about and Europe has also jumped on the bandwagon with kitty coffee spots in Berlin, Paris and in the U.K.
And Montreal folk are lucky. On August 30, Café des Chats opened and it’s rumoured that the city will see another one very soon. For now though, city dwellers can grab a friend and get snuggly with one of the eight purring creatures. For students who are living temporarily in the city or for people whose apartment building bans pets, Café des Chats is the answer to cuteness deficit.
For once it’s taken our southern neighbours a while to catch up. The U.S. has just got its first cat coffee shop late last month. Cat Town Café has been up and running since October 25 in Oakland, California with no less than a dozen cats slinking through the venue or resting in the “cats only” zone. Their mission is to provide affection for the animals that would be overlooked in shelters; old, shy or sick cats still in need of love. While this Oakland joint just opened, it shouldn’t be long before similar ones pop up in San Francisco, Portland and L.A.
As for the rest of Canada, Vancouver and Toronto are pouncing on the trend too. Toronto’s Kitty Cat Café and Pet Me Meow are in the works.