By Langley Cornwell
Have you heard about animal cafés? They are a fairly new thing and one just opened in our town. Turns out, an animal café is your typical coffee or tea joint with the added benefit of being able to snuggle with adorable furry creatures as you sip your beverage. A quick trip to Google tells you that in the United States, the most common type is the cat café, which is what they opened where I live. Japan, on the other hand, boasts not only locales with cats and dogs, but reptiles, bunnies, and even birds. But where else can you find these cozy little cafés here in the U.S., and what happens to the animals that live there?
What’s the Purpose of an Animal Café?
While the animal cafés in other countries are super cool, the U.S. does things a little differently. Most animal cafés here are used as a way to help adoptable cats and dogs find their forever homes. That’s right, you can meet an animal at a café, fall in love, take her home and spoil her rotten by providing healthy food like CANIDAE, lots of love, a safe place to live and everything else that goes along with responsible pet ownership. What you get in return is immeasurable!
It’s an idea that’s only really been around for a few years, but really – how could you go to a place, cuddle up with a cat or a dog while sipping a cuppa, and not want to take one of them home with you? Seriously brilliant concept, if you ask me.
Animal cafés also give people a way to interact with adoptable cats and dogs outside of a typical shelter environment. In the café, the animals are usually a lot calmer than they would be in a shelter, and you can get a glimpse of their true personalities. Many of these cafés are linked to local shelters or rescue groups, giving a focus to animals that in other circumstances may have been passed over for adoption.
As they become more and more popular, many cat cafés require reservations and book up months in advance. So if you want your chance to sip a cappuccino while you chill with a kitten, be sure to make plans early. Some cat cafés also require a sitting fee per hour so that more customers can come in and get their feline fix.
Oakland, California was the first city to embrace the joining of the café experience with purrfectly snuggly felines, back in 2014. What began with a trip to Japan ended with the opening of Cat Town, a café experience unlike many others, and the saving of well over 200 cats to date.
New York also opened its first permanent cat café in December of 2014. Meow Parlor works with the rescue group KittyKind and has since found homes for many cats in the city. There are three additional cat cafés in New York, including the Japanese-influenced Koneko.
Other cities that have opened their own cat cafés are Seattle, Portland, Naples, Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, Cleveland, Boston, Washington DC, and Ann Arbor.
For those of you who are more canine-centric, fear not – dog cafés may be on the rise following in their feline friends’ paw prints. The first such place opened in Los Angeles in 2015, drawing plenty of media attention. While it seems this is currently the only location for such a thing, I can only imagine that more dog cafés will open as the concept continues to catch on.
So if you happen to live near any of these cities with an animal café, this is a fun way to interact with some furry friends and maybe even take one home. Even if you don’t live close, perhaps a road trip is in order! And if you’re not inclined to adopt at this time, go anyway since the money made in these animal cafés helps cats and dogs in need.
In a world where so many cats and dogs sit in cold kennels, looking forlorn and lost, here’s to hoping that many more animal cafés open their doors to pets in need. So go out there and sip that delicious latte, snuggle up to a precious pooch or playful kitten, and get your chill on.
Have you ever been to an animal café? What was your experience like?
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell