Themed cafés are on the rise throughout the world, but one kind in particular may be here to stay: cat cafés. Discover why these establishments are popping up near you and how they benefit cats and the people who love them!
Coffee, Cake, Cats
For years now, free-range cats have roamed throughout coffee houses in Asia. The first cat café, Cat Flower Garden, opened in 1998 in Taipei, Taiwan. The popularity of these cat coffee houses spread to Japan. At some of these establishments, reports the BBC, the owners require visitors to pay by the hour to play with the cats but provide a free vending machine stocked with snacks and beverages. Other cafés offer a full food and drink menu that includes free-of-charge hang time with the cats.
One reason for the rapid rise in popularity of these cafés in large cities is that many people can't have their own pets due to the small size of their home, landlord restrictions or busy schedules. By visiting cat cafés, notes BBC, people benefit from the experience of spending time with a companion animal "without the responsibility or hassle of ownership." Snuggling up to a furry friend is a terrific way to wind down after a hectic workday, so much so that people are willing to pay for the opportunity.
Feline Friends, Forever Homes
Recently, these trendy establishments have been making their way into other parts of the world, including Europe and Australia. In the United States, the first permanent cat café opened its doors in 2014 in Oakland, California. Prior to this, pop-up cat coffee houses sprouted in urban areas, including New York City, Denver and Portland, Oregon.
In the U.S., cat-centric cafés aren't just for hanging out with friendly fluff balls all afternoon. Typically, the kitties residing in the cafés are cats up for adoption. If you're interested in adopting a cat, these places offer a great opportunity to see a kitty's personality and gauge how comfortable she is with humans.
"We saw the cat café idea as a way to expand our mission and help more cats who were languishing in the shelter," Adam Myatt, co-founder of Cat Town Cafe & Adoption Center in Oakland, the first permanent cat café in the United States, tells Petcha. At this particular café, to stay in line with health codes, the area where humans eat and drink is separated from the cat area, and even the ventilation system is set up to keep air from the cat side from flowing into the people side, according to Time. Thus, you can drink your latte and eat your banana muffin free of cat hair. Health codes vary from place to place, so don't be surprised if in certain cafés, a cat decides to join you at your table.
Even if you aren't in the market for a kitty of your own, you'll still benefit from hanging out with the cats up for adoption in the café. The Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology says being around companion animals like cats has shown that they can help reduce your risk of stroke or other cardiovascular diseases, not to mention a reduction in your stress levels.
If you're interested in spending a stress-free day with friends (including the feline variety) while sipping a latté, then a cat café might be exactly what you've been looking for. Search online for any local establishments that offer this unique environment. More and more are popping up all over the world, so you might have one closer to you than you're realize. So, head on over to a cat café for a cup of java, hold a kitty in your lap for a while and let the comfort of a good cat snuggle brighten your day.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time pet parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about family life, pets, and pregnancy. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien