What IS a cat cafe?
So... what is a cat cafe?
While the basic premise is simply a cafe that has cats, cat cafes have evolved to be much more than that.
In November 2018, I visited what is considered to be the world's first cat cafe, Kitten Coffee Garden, located in Taipei. I was the first customer of the day, arriving minutes after they opened. As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by a handful of friendly cats.
The owners spoke minimal English, and I spoke minimal Chinese, but they appeared to be genuinely happy to see me. After I found a seat, they brought a menu as well as some treats for me to give the cats. Surrounded by adorable cats begging for my attention, and with delicious cat-themed food on its way, I was instantly happy.
The cats seemed happy too—lounging about watching their owners work, socializing with humans that give them treats, and playing with each other. This was their home, and I was simply a guest. It was clear that the owners loved and cared for these cats. They had plenty of toys and beds, and had cat-only spaces as well.
Five of the cats originally belonged to the owners; the rest were strays that found a home there, or cats that were gifted to the cafe. Though they weren't the first cafe owners to bring their pets to work, they were the first to advertise their business as a "cat cafe," and as soon as media picked up the story, cat cafes began popping up all over Japan, and eventually elsewhere in the world.
With the popularization of cat cafes came the evolution into something more than just a cafe with cats. Cat cafes began partnering with shelters and rescues, essentially acting as a foster home for them.
Now cat cafes are not only regular cafes, but they can also act as an adoption centre, provide cat therapy, and create a place to buy cute meowchandise.
Cat cafes benefit cats, adoptable or not, by giving them a more comfortable place to socialize and bond with humans. They also benefit people, giving potential adopters the opportunity to see the cat's true purrsonality before adopting; and acting as cat therapy for those who can't or don't want to adopt cats of their own. Feline adoption rates have increased significantly in cities that have cat cafes.
We feel a cat cafe is desperately needed on Vancouver Island, and we're excited to be the first!