Is there any combo more pleasing than coffee and cats? We think not. Now you can get your fix of both with a visit to your friendly neighborhood cat cafe. That’s right – cat cafes are a thing, and we’re loving it.
To learn more about this adorably trendy (albeit somewhat bewildering) phenomenon, check out our comprehensive cat cafe guide. We’re also taking a closer look at 10 paws-itively brilliant cat cafes across the U.S.
What exactly is a cat cafe?
So, what exactly do cat cafes involve? Think of it as a type of supervised pet rental. Patrons pay a cover fee to spend an hour or so snuggling with purring piles of fur while sipping peppermint lattes. Sometimes food is involved. Sometimes not. Either way, one thing is certain: these kitty cafes are a dream for any cat lover.
The first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1999, with Japan quick to follow suit. Now cat cafes can be found throughout Asia and Europe. The U.S. is catching up on this hot trend, much to the delight of cat lovers across North America.
What to expect during your visit?
Cat cafes are springing up all over the United States, and if you're in a bigger metropolitan area, there's a good chance a kitty cafe is just around the corner. Get creative with Sunday brunch and schedule a 2-hour session at your local cat cafe to see what all the fuss is about.
Reservations: Depending on the cafe's popularity, reservations may be a requirement. In most cases, this can be done online. Even if a cafe welcomes walk-ins, it's wise to reserve a time slot to avoid being turned away.
Cost: Typically, you'll need to pay a cover charge in addition to any beverages you buy.
Rules: Cafe owners establish rules to protect the well-being of their cats. Patrons must abide by certain policies, such as refraining from chasing the cats or resisting the urge to wake a slumbering Tabby.
Most cat cafes will post their policies on their website. Save yourself a scolding by following all of the cafe's policies on flash photography, holding or handling the cats, and age requirements (some cafes will not allow young children.)
Cat personalities: You're bound to experience varying degrees of socialization from the cats. Some will be friendly. Others will be shy. And just as their natural temperaments fluctuate, a cat’s desire to sit on your lap can change from one minute to the next. But hey – that's what we love about them, right?
Kid-Friendly?: A word of warning – before you bring your cat-loving tot along, check out the cafe's policy on younger visitors. Some kitty cafes will restrict children, while others will offer designated times when children are welcome.
Attire: Naturally, you can dress as you please, but we have a few pointers. First, long-sleeves serve as protection against unexpected scratches, and slip-on sneakers are ideal if you can’t wear shoes in the cafe’s lounge area. Above all, choose an outfit you won’t mind being covered in hair.
Hygienic policies: Since food is often served alongside coffee and tea, allow me to settle any reservations you may have about cleanliness. Food prep is always kept separate from any areas the cats roam, and hygienic practices are strictly maintained. After all, no owner wants their cafe to smell like a giant litter box.
NO outside cats allowed: Bear in mind – you don’t bring your own cat to a cat cafe. The cafe will have its own resident felines who would love to keep you company. Depending on the cafe's particular mission, the cats may be permanent residents, or they could be rescues waiting to be adopted.
Benefits of visiting your local cat cafe
There is mounting evidence that cats are good for our health. Feline companionship lowers stress, decreases blood pressure, and even diminishes one’s risk of developing heart disease. The positive energy you experience around cats can also boost your immune system.
Psychologically, cats help curb depression and anxiety. They banish loneliness and set our minds at ease with their hypnotic purrs.
Novelty can act as a balm to our souls, and visiting a new cat cafe could be just what you need for a recharge.
Different opinions on cat cafes
While most people appreciate the benefits (and undeniable cuteness) that cat cafes provide, there are some people who oppose them, calling them out as inhumane exploitation of animals.
According to these naysayers, cats need stability, and the cafes that operate as off-site adoption centers result in an ever-revolving door of constant change. They also point out that the persistent presence of strangers can be a source of stress for cats who may not be fond of the extra attention.
There's also the potential for health violations. With so many cats confined to a small area, one sick cat could infect its fellow residents.
Regardless of how you feel about them, most cat cafe owners have implemented strict policies to maintain the well-being of their furry residents. These policies include microchipping their cats and keeping vaccinations up-to-date.
Our personal recommendation: visit a cafe yourself to get a true sense of whether or not the cats are enjoying themselves. Your perspective may change once you visit a cat cafe in person.
Koneko in New York City
Located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Koneko was the Big Apple’s very first cat cafe. Drawing inspiration from Japan’s first cat cafes, Koneko serves traditional Japanese eats with sake (or beer or wine, if you prefer). Savor your refreshments in the company of 20+ mood-boosting felines.
Bring your camera, and take advantage of the cafe’s Insta-worthy cat art and graffiti. Resident cats roam freely in any of the cafe’s three main spaces: a sunny loft aptly named the Upper Cattery, a cozy Lower Cattery, and an outdoor “Catio.”
Some additional cat cafes worth visiting in New York City include the Meow Parlor
The Tree House in Chicago, Illinois
If you find yourself in the Windy City, make a reservation at the Tree House Humane Society. This socially conscious shelter is the premier place to get your feline fix.
The Tree House has made it their mission to model exemplary cat care while nurturing the human-animal bond. They’ve joined like-minded organizations to advocate for the fair and thoughtful treatment of all animals. It sounds like a cause we could get behind.
Some additional cat cafes worth visiting in Chicago include The Windy City Cat Cafe
and The CatCade.
NEKO in Seattle, Washington
With two locations in Washington state, NEKO professes to be “more than just a cat cafe.” These folks are dedicated to finding fur-ever homes for every cat on the streets. Partnering with Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) and Whatcom Humane, NEKO aims to rescue as many cats as possible.
The inspiration for NEKO came from the years its founder, Caitlin Unsell, spent teaching in Japan and Vietnam – two countries where cat cafes are all the rage. Upon returning to the States, Caitlin and her partner, Cory, made it their mission to open a sanctuary for cats that doubled as a retreat for humans.
Another cat cafe to visit in Seattle: Seattle Meowtropolitan
The Cat Cafe in San Diego, California
Get your “purr therapy” on at the original Cat Cafe in Southern California. They’ve been pouring award-winning coffee in the company of cats since 2015. Go on an empty stomach and enjoy a local pastry from Bread and Cie, a sweet treat from The Cravory, or a scrummy sandwich from Sunshine & Orange.
All kinds of cats have been housed by the cafe – senior cats, kittens, special needs cats, and blind cats. If you’re seriously considering adoption, the cafe’s owners invite you to schedule a meet-and-greet so you can engage with the cats and see which personality jives with you best.
For something a little more offbeat, why not try Cat Yoga? Stretch and relax while the cats roam freely about the room. The Cat Cafe offers evening classes suitable for all experience levels. Top things off with an espresso and some cat snuggle, and you’re golden.
Another cat cafe to visit in San Diego: Cat & Craft
Java Cats Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia
When Hadyn Hilton opened Java Cats Cafe in 2017, she purposely chose a family-friendly location. She envisioned a place where children and families could gather to enjoy wholesome activities – all in the company of cats.
The cafe continues to pursue this goal, striving to “bring the citizens of Atlanta joy through the love of an adoptable cat and exceptional coffee.” For the $12 price of admission, you’ll enjoy a complimentary coffee or tea and one blissful hour of kitty cuddles.
Additional cat cafes to visit in Atlanta include the Happy Tabby Cat Cafe
and El Gato Coffeehouse:
Whiskers Cat Cafe in Kansas City, Missouri
Whiskers Cat Cafe gets it right when they claim to offer “the best of both worlds.” Cats & Coffee. What more could you ask for?
The cafe's cats come from the KC Pet Project, each of them arriving with a clean bill of health. While the owners are dedicated to finding forever homes for their cats, they’re also invested in the benefits the cafe can bring to its human visitors. They point to studies that illustrate the mood-boosting benefits of feline companionship, maintaining that cat snuggles can mitigate stress, combat depression, and even lower blood pressure.
The cafe’s thoughtfully designed kitty playground provides areas for the cats to play, snuggle, or nap, and visitors can help themselves to books or a cat cafe game.
Purrfect Day Cat Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky
You’re sure to have a purr-fect time at the Purrfect Day Cat Cafe in Louisville. As the city’s first cat cafe, Purrfect Day offers coffee, beer, and wine, as well as grab-and-go grub and delectable desserts. This socially conscious organization is committed to changing the way we look at pet adoption. To that end, they’ve made it their mission to facilitate a “better matchmaking experience for cats and people alike.”
Whether you’re thinking about adoption or you’re just looking for a unique solution to date night, your purr-fect day awaits.
A second cat cafe to visit in Louisville: Lucky Cat Cafe and Lounge
Mac Tabby Cat Cafe in Charlotte, North Carolina
Mac Tabby Cat Cafe owners welcome you to unwind with a glass of Pinot and the fine company of their 12 free-roaming cats. With a separate space for refreshments and cats, you can grab a quick bite to eat while enjoying the feline antics through a viewing window. The cats come from a local rescue, Catering to Cats and Dogs, and they all arrive spayed or neutered, tested for feline leukemia, microchipped, and vaccinated.
Walk-ins are welcome, although entry depends upon availability. To be safe, make a reservation.
Another cat cafe to visit in Charlotte: Daily Mews Cat Cafe and Boutique
The Kitty Beautiful in Orlando, Florida
This popular spot in the Sunshine State is a one-part coffee shop and one-part cat haven. Order a morning pick-me-up and head over to the separate cat room where you can delight in the quirky behavior of resident felines. A small cover charge is required, but trust us—it’s worth it.
All of the adoptable cats at Kitty Beautiful are spayed or neutered, receive appropriate vaccinations, and are microchipped.
Itching to try something new? Check out their Cat Yoga events or “Mewvie Nights.” Reservations are strongly recommended, especially on weekends.
Another cat cafe worth visiting in Orlando is The Orlando Cat Cafe.
Rescued Treasures Cat Cafe in Las Vegas, Nevada
Rescued Treasures Cat Cafe is on a mission to eradicate cat homelessness. The organization is committed to improving the quality of animal life. To do so, they’ve implemented several strategies, including spay/neuter programs, promoting proper cat care, and providing resources to support animal rescues.
At Rescued Treasures, you’ll find free WiFi, complimentary beverages and snacks, and of course, delightful (and adoptable!) cats. All of the resident felines have tested negative for FELV/FIV, are spayed or neutered, microchipped, and up-to-date on all vaccinations.
There’s no doubt about it – these cafes are the cat’s meow! Do you have a favorite cat cafe? We’d love to hear about your experience! Give us the lowdown in the comments below.
About the author
Liz is a freelance blogger and copywriter with a soft spot for all things feline. She lives in Western New York with her husband, daughter, and three fabulous cats. Connect with Liz at Lizwritesforyou.com.