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Breed & Health Resources

What You Should Know About Cat Cafes

By Lea Jaratz

orange-cat-in-cat-cafe

When the first cat cafe in my city announced it’s opening date, the reservation list filled up faster than a cat chasing a laser pointer. Cat caregivers and cat-free feline enthusiasts alike signed up in droves to spend time with these homeless cats.

It sounds blissful doesn’t it? A cat purring by your side while you hack away at your inbox – and the litter scooping and vet bills are not your problem.

Before you sign up, learn the lay of the land so you’re a pro when you go.

Intro to Cat Cafes

Cat cafes originated in Japan and became popular though Asia – and now cat cafes are a growing trend around the world. Only recently permitted in the US, cat cafes here have a bit more regulation than those overseas.

The cat area and food service areas must be completely separated and overseen by both the animal welfare department and the department of health. Before visiting a cat cafe, be sure you are spending your time and money in a place that puts the cats’ well-being above all else.

Learn the House Rules

A good cat cafe will have pretty strict rules to ensure the cats safety and comfort. While rules may vary from place to place, you should expect that you’re not allowed to pick up cats, feed them, use flash photography, or in any way stress or bother the cats.

Some shops require an orientation to review the rules and make sure people and cats are safe and stress-free.

Look for Adoption Opportunities

Take a look at the cats listed on your local cat cafe’s website or the cats in their venue. Are they homeless or adoptable cats? Are they associated with a local non-profit rescue with an assortment of mixed breed, adult, and senior cats with adoption fees and resources linking them to a local shelter? If the answer is yes, you’re in a good place.

Pro Tip: If you’re seeing nothing but rare, purebred cats or kittens, this venue is likely supporting a cat breeder rather than homeless pets.

Observe the Space for Cats to Roam and Hide

There have been sad cases of cat cafes taking in too many cats from a local rescue, shifting the overcrowding from the shelter into the cafe. While well-intentioned, this causes stress and sickness among the cat population.

Quality cat cafes should have plenty of free space for cats to hide and areas to avoid the public space completely if they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Healthy, Vaccinated, and Spayed/Neutered Cats

The cat cafe is only as reputable as the shelter or rescue group providing the adoptable cats. Be sure that you visit cafes that have fully vaccinated and healthy cats. It only takes one sick cat to spread harmful, even fatal, diseases to the other felines or even your cats at home.

In no case should a cat cafe allow cats to reproduce. That goes against the mission of any reputable rescue.

Any avenue to help one of the 3.2 million cats in shelters find homes is a good thing, but only if it’s done the right way. Supporting only reputable cat cafes is one way to make sure you’re not funding a profits-before-pets cat cafe.

If you don’t have a quality cat cafe near you but find yourself in need of some feline-friendly time, consider volunteering with local rescue groups to clean, feed, or socialize cats. You can also foster a homeless cat. There are lots of ways to get your feline fix and help a homeless cat at the same time.

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