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Cat cafes: The latest trend in food and philanthropy

December 16, 2014

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Coffee, latte

Coffee, tea and adopt a cat. That’s the mantra at the latest trend in cafes that are beginning to spring up across the United States.

Cat cafes are already popular in Japan, where there are also cafes featuring owls and penguins, and where many apartment owners ban residents from owning animals. Now, the New York Times reports the first permanent cat cafe has opened in Manhattan. It joins a litter of them (sorry) are opening up in cities such as Oakland, Calif., Denver, and Naples, Fla.

The point of these cat cafes isn’t to have a snack and pet a kitty. It’s to find owners for abandoned cats. And it seems to be phenomenally popular. According to the Times, as soon as word got out that Meow Parlour was coming, so many people signed up for appointments that the cafe’s website crashed.

In 20 hours, 1,000 appointments were filled, said Christina Ha, a co-owner. Clearly, cats are having their moment, as witness the popularity of Grumpy Cat. “Suddenly, it’s O.K. to show off your cat,” Ha said. “You’re not a crazy cat lady anymore — you’re the owner of a great cat.”

Cat cafes have to keep the cat sections and the cafe sections separate, because of laws in many areas that prohibit food being served in proximity to animals. So, at the Cat Town Cafe & Adoption Center in Oakland, patrons dine first, then pay $10 to enter a special area where they can play with the cats.

Thus far, 52 cats have been adopted at Cat Town, which specializes in older, shy cats that probably would not be adopted if they were in shelters.

Cat adoption is a serious business. An estimated 1.4 million cats (and 1.2 million dogs) are euthanized annually, said Matt Bershadker, president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of New York.

Given how fast trends spread in America, and the love that cat owners shower on their pets, it’s likely your town will have its own Cat Town before long.


ASPCA website

The Humane Society

Adopt A Pet



  • Micheline Maynard

    Micheline is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post concentrating on business and culture. She has written about flooding in Detroit, tainted water in Benton Harbor, nationwide shortages of restaurant staff, and vaccine hesitancy.

    View all posts

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