Feline fanciers in need of a caffeine fix can satiate both addictions at cat cafés cropping up in cities from coast to coast. The combo of coffee and furry friends traces its roots to Taiwan, but the phenomenon took off in Tokyo, where cat lovers, many barred from keeping pets in their apartments, have enjoyed kitties with their cuppas for a decade.
The trend is now spreading across North America, Asia, and Europe, where new cafés help animals find permanent homes. More such spots are in the works in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., joining establishments in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts, among others.
Cat Town Café, now Cat Zone, was the first cat café to open in the United States. Since its debut in Oakland in 2014, it has found homes for hundreds of felines. In the petting room, kitties leap in and out of small-scale replicas of local landmarks (including a Catnip Dispensary) or take respite from eager humans in a quiet zone. When not visiting the animals, patrons can relax at RAWR Coffee Bar with coffee and snacks both savory and sweet—perhaps a bagel or a vegan cupcake—or peruse a wall of cat-related T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other paraphernalia.
Across the bay, KitTea launched in 2015 in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley with Zen-like trimmings and a teahouse vibe. On the feline side, furnishings match the theme, including light fixtures resembling balls of yarn and a large Buddha cat painted on the wall. On the blond-wood café side, KitTea serves artisan teas, among them a green brew sourced from a small farm in Kyoto, Japan.
The Cat Café in San Diego creates a homey environment in its feline playpen. The room is filled with soft beds, scratching posts, and climbing shelves, as well as feather toys, balls, and tunnels. The café pours delicious java, and offers treats and cookies for its customers.
Bookstore cat meets cat café at Denver Cat Company, a community gathering place that sells used books from the owner’s library, offers gallery space to local artists, and lets adoptable kitties roam at leisure. Visitors can purchase tea or coffee while curling up with a good book and a lap warmer.
This article was first published in Fall 2015 and updated in February 2019. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.