What the Heck is a Cat Café?

by K Marie Alto July 28, 2019 2 min read

What the Heck is a Cat Café?

The Concept

In short, a Cat Café is a business that cares for cats and kittens and provides them with everything they need to live a happy, healthy life.  Customers pay an entry fee (considered a donation to help care for the kitties) to snuggle and play with a room full of cute kitties!  The best part is, if you form a bond with a particular feline, most cat cafés are hoping to adopt out current residents to make room for more!

These cafés vary slightly from country to country because of laws and regulations.  Some locations are like a typical café and serve food and custom drinks, while others are limited to prepacked goods, not made in-house.  In general though, these cafes perform two major functions, 1) they are a platform for animal lovers to connect with kitties that may not otherwise have the chance, and arguably more importantly 2) they rescue at-risk kitties, provide them with food, medical care, and love with the goal of finding them a furever home.

Where did they originate?

While the first known cat café was opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998, the concept really gained momentum and popularity once it was embraced by Japan.  Many apartments and condos in Japan restrict their occupants from having pets.  The purrfect solution was Taiwan’s cat café, which began popping up in Japan around 2005 to give residents a place to regularly enjoy the benefits of kitties, without having them in their home.  As of today, cat cafés have been established on 5 of the 7 continents!

My 1st Visit to a Cat Cafe

Cat Cafés have only been in the U.S. for about 5 years, but their popularity continues to expand, and more cafés continue to pop up in new locations.  I recently had a chance to visit my local cat café Patriot Pawsabilites in Fairfax, Virginia and I was NOT disappointed!  With over a dozen cats and an additional dozen or more kittens, I knew instantly I had found my new favorite place!  Come back next week as I go into more detail about my 2-hour visit.

Have you ever been to a cat café?  How was your experience?

K Marie Alto
K Marie Alto

K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer, and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 22K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).


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