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There’s something compelling about the idea of a cat café. There you are, sipping a cappuccino, while kittens tumble across your feet and Old Deuteronomy watches from a windowsill.
Naysayers groan at the idea of an errant cat hair in their creampuff or the notion of kitty litterbox-feet prancing across the tables, but after some intense research on the world’s best cat cafés, as well as a visit to a local Seattle kitten-and-coffee mecca, it’s clear that the idyllic reality generally outweighs any worry. (Plus, no mice in the kitchen, right?!)
Since the world’s first cat café opened in 1998, people have been flocking to their local cat-and-coffee den to soak up some love. In cities like Tokyo, Japan, most renters are prohibited from owning pets, so young professionals destress with community pets.
In the US and Canada, cat cafés operate more like private social clubs where you rent time, not kittens, and there just happens to be food available. They work with local animal shelters to increase awareness and visibility, increasing the cats’ chances of being adopted. They also follow strict guidelines put forth by the Department of Health, Animal Protection, and a host of other regulatory departments before they can even open their doors. This protects you, but also keeps the cats safe and healthy.
What to Look for in a Great Cat Café
- Two separate entrances: one into the food area, one into the cat area
- Rules that protect the cats: no picking up the cats, only one person petting a cat at a time, no waking cats that are sleeping
- Places for the cats to hide when they need private time, like little cubbies and perches high up
- Healthy, bright-eyed, even-coated cats that look like they’re enjoying themselves
- An even balance of kittens, young adults, and older cats
- Age limits (most cat cafés are age 12 and up or require younger children to be accompanied by an adult, so definitely ask before bringing children)
With that in mind, here are some of the best cat cafes around the world.
1. World’s First: Nekocafe “Cat Flower Garden” (Taipei, Taiwan)
According to legend, it all started here in 1998. They don’t have an Instagram feed, but that doesn’t stop adoring fans from posting!
2. Most Whimsical: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium (London, England)
This Alice in Wonderland-themed spot takes magic and wonder to the next level. Their Insta is a swoon-worthy balance of adorable and educational and is chock full of cats caught mid-blep (biting their tongue cutely as they sleep) or in full mlem (catching a cat on camera with their tongue out). Their high tea service (with cats invited!) is hands down, the epitome of feline fancy. Adoptions are available.
3. Most Eclectic: Pounce Cat Café + Wine Bar (Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia)
Leave it to two of America’s best cities to host two of its most eclectic cat cafés. Pounce, the South’s first cat café, hosts regular cat yoga sessions, monthly drag bingo with Patti O’Furniture (Charleston location), and Feline and Wine Evenings (Savannah location), all in addition to finding permanent homes for more than 1,350 cats. In fact, all of the photos on their Instagram are of customers holding cats in their arms were taken the day the cat was adopted!
4. Most Artistic: Cats Republic (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Part of the stellar Cats Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, Cats Republic serves high-end desserts amongst gorgeous art and statues with real cats nestling in next to their bronze and marble counterparts.
The first in Europe, Cats Republic hosts a cozy café, a cat therapy hall (that’s where you get your snuggles in), a cat-themed gift shop, and, unlike any other in the world, it’s attached to a whole museum dedicated to cats! 10 cats come directly from the Hermitage museum, where they protected the art from mice and rats. Now, they live out their dotage in cuddly fame.
5. Most Purrfect Prana: Seattle Meowtropolitan (Seattle, Washington)
With cat yoga four times a week, monthly passes, Purr n’ Paint nights, and family passes available, Seattle’s Meowtropolitan has got the (ahem) cat in the bag. In addition to hip surroundings and happy, relaxed felines, you can enjoy a free drink included with your very affordable 50-minute fee of $13 (tax included). The space is open to ages eight and older.
This is the café that has you believing that the trend is actually the perfect blend of a rock-solid business plan and non-profit feline adoption delight. Six of the cats have made the café their permanent home while another 10-15 spots remain open for adoptable cats.
6. Most Altruistic: Café Chat le Heureux (Montréal, Quebec, Canada)
This elegant find boasts an excellent menu filled with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, gluten-free and vegan options, salads, soups, charcuterie, and desserts, as well as the most extensive drink menu I’ve come across. They also are among the few with only permanent cat residents.
Café Chat l’Heureux (Happy Cat Café) focuses on cat therapy, including sessions for the elderly and disabled, and seeks to educate and inform visitors about the joys and realities of cat adoption, steering visitors towards shelters and rescues. They truly put the cats’ welfare first. Come meet Luzerne, Gustave, Milady, Luciole, Chopin, Boris, Luna, and Sheldon. They’ll be waiting for you.
7. Most Fantastical: Temari no Ouchi (Tokyo, Japan)
Tokyo’s Temari no Ouchi–”a strange cat forest”–is a wonderland of all things feline, set in a fantasy woodland that gives a new meaning to kawaii (Japanese for “cute”). It’s bizarre and otherworldly in all the best ways. You’ll see grumpy little cat dolls propped next to real sleeping kittens, little peek-a-boo windows, magical glowing trees, and plenty of hidey-holes.
The price drops significantly after 7 pm, so if you’ve dreamed of stepping into a children’s book with live cats and kittens, a couple of hours at Temari no Ouchi should be one of your life goals. Food, drinks, and cocktails are available.
8. Most Warm-Hearted: Barista Cats (Auckland, New Zealand)
Barista Cats Cat Café Experience & Adoption Centre focuses on giving rescue cats—especially those who are hard to place—a second chance at life, proving you don’t have to be a kitten to warm a heart. 13 permanent feline residents share their hard-won forever home with a small number of adoptable foster cats who wear little bandanas that say “Adopt me!” This may be one of the only cat cafés in the world that lets you cuddle with cats while you wait for your espresso and pastry. They also have kitten parties, cat yoga, and monthly movie nights.
9. Most Zen: KitTea Cat Café (San Francisco, California)
In a mission to alleviate stress and to place as many cats in permanent homes as possible, KitTea Cat Café rings the bell with bright, airy spaces and a variety of high-end teas, including four heirloom green teas. From Monday through Friday, they serve teas and pastries, then expand to a full menu on the weekends. KitTea has 14 permanent residents that you can get to know and a rotating roster of 10 adoptable foster cats. In addition to general entry, they also host private events, “mewvie” Nights, yoga nights, and “Caturday” morning cartoons.
10. Most Tastefully Tasty: Pee Pees Katzencafe (Berlin, Germany)
Who says you have to have 30 cats to be a cat café? Pee Pees Katzencafe Berlin knows that two cats are better than none, especially when they’re as cute as European shorthair brothers Pelle and Caruso. Andrea Kollmorgen’s beautifully bright and airy café is filled with lovely touches and boasts one of the most well-designed menus I’ve seen, focusing again on quality over quantity. Their quiche, flammkuchen, organic and locally sourced ingredients from small local shops and farms, excellent breakfasts, and weekend pancakes landed Pee Pees on the Top Ten Berlin Gastronomic Experience list.
11. Most Literary: La Gatoteca (Madrid, Spain)
What’s not to love about a vibrant combination of murals, stacks of books, excellent coffee, and a rotating roster of 20 adoptable cats? (Don’t ask me, because I think it sounds like heaven!)
La Gatoteca (“The Place of a Large Amount of Cats”) has placed more than 100 rescue cats into permanent homes and shows no sign of stopping. They have a mission to educate patrons about the benefits of responsible pet ownership and operate as a relaxed space for people to interact with adoptable cats while sipping excellent coffee. They also offer classes about cats, cat care, and cat behavior, as well as a kitty-sitter service matching patrons with cat lovers who can help out when needed.
12. Most Mighty: Meow Parlour (New York, New York)
Since 2014, Meow Parlour has steadily taken in and adopted out 25-30 cats each month. They also have their own 501c3, Meow Parlour Cats, Inc. that’s on a mission to educate New Yorkers about cat behavior, cat care, and fostering feral kittens. They host public talks from the Kitten Lady, while putting Beth Adelman, certified Cat Behavior Consultant, to work with other rescue organizations to address the stressors that scare cats, so cats can become wonderful pets and not end up back in a shelter.
In addition to the café side, Meow Parlour offers a “Snack Time with Cats” package, which includes one and a half hours with the cats, along with one baked good, a beverage, and either four macarons or an ice cream sandwich. (No small thang when you consider the food is coming from chef Christine Ha and her partner Emilie LeGrande, who helm the delectable Macaron Parlour.)
They also have a kids’ hour for children under nine, cat yoga, drag bingo, and special events like “Pies and Cats” where you learn to make a perfect pie from a famous chef, then play with kittens while it bakes.
More cat articles
- How to Buy or Make Your Own Catio
- Cat DNA Tests: Is The Science Worth the Cost?
- 8 Ways Cats Can Make You Healthier
Hannah Kohl shares custody of Frances, an Aussie-Portuguese Water Dog-Mystery mix. As a musical theater writer, author, and illustrator, she splits her time between New York and Seattle. She is also an accomplished papercutting artist whose work has been featured in The New York Times. Her papercutting artwork can be seen at http://www.athousandtinysnips.com.
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