The Taiwanese trend of cat cafés have exploded in recent years. They typically operate as a regular café that serves food & drink, with the addition of some cats (and extra health & safety infrastructure). As someone who lives in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, I definitely see the need for some outlets to spend some time with some fuzzy creatures without a commitment.
Some cat cafés are sponsored by animal shelters and all of the cats are adoptable. I checked out Meow Cat Café in midtown Toronto, where all of the cats are actually pets of the owners. There were a few gates when we walked in, which ensured that none of the cats could escape. Before going over to visit the cats, we had to check in at the counter. The counter is surrounded by a glass wall to ensure that all of the food & drink are prepared away from the cats. There was an entry fee of $10, which also included the price of a drink. We had to read over a list of rules for interacting with the cats, which all seemed very sensible (e.g. don’t disturb sleeping cats).
Some cat cafés are sponsored by animal shelters and all of the cats are adoptable. It’s important to do some research as some of these cafés have gotten in trouble for their treatment of the animals. The cats at Meow Cat Café are all pets of the owners, and it was evident that all of the cats were well cared for. Although, Meow Cat Café has experienced some heat over the treatment of their customers. Last August, they shut down temporarily over the treatment of a customer in a wheelchair. They are back in business now and have some new rules for the use of wheelchairs in their café (e.g. wheelchairs have to be stationary when in the cat enclosure).
Although I had a great time at the cat café, I think customers really have to be wary when visiting a cat café. These are businesses with the goal of making money, and therefore the welfare of the animals may be put on the back burner. If you’re craving quality time with some animals, I’d recommend checking out your local animal shelter. Check out the post I wrote about volunteering for my local animal shelter!