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Cool Cats and Hot Coffee

A Look Into One of America's First Cat Cafes

Mornings? Am I right? Need a little cuddle with a cat or two alongside your favorite brew? Have you gone on a trip and miss your furry companion? The Cat Café in San Diego, CA has you covered.

“We are a coffee shop with a twist,” says Tony Wang, the General Manager. “We opened up about two years ago after hearing about a cat café in Paris that had a two-month reservation list, and we figured we could do something similar in the United States.”

This seemingly ordinary coffee shop actually doubles as a cat adoption facility. The register at the entrance offers drip coffee, espresso, lattes, pastries, and sandwiches from various local bakeries. Once you get your food and drinks, you’re lead into a dining area to eat and play with the cats. The cats themselves come from the San Diego Humane Society and all of them are available for adoption.

“We have done 217 adoptions since we opened in 2015,” says Wang. Customers can play with the cats and get to know them while enjoying their food from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. If a particular cat caught your eye, you can schedule an adoption meeting after the café closes. “We ask people to come in for the adoption process after hours so that we don’t stress out the animals,” Wang explains.

The cats themselves are incredibly well-behaved. “We’ve had over 250 animals come through here and we’ve only had to return about a handful of them,” Wang says. This is thanks to the relaxed atmosphere as well as the fact that they have plenty of room to climb, play, and nap. There are toys, scratching posts, cat trees, and more, and the cats are all lovingly cared for by Wang himself. “I’m pretty much the one who takes care of the animals," he says. "The employees take care of the coffee side of things.”

But given all the strict regulations that restaurants are subject to, how can such a place exist? “The Health Department required that we have completely separate areas from where the cats are and where the food is served,” Wang explains. And while he admits it was a challenge to set up the café, the Health Department was extremely helpful in coming up with a layout that worked for both sides. Customers pick up their food in one room, then relax and play with the cats while enjoying their meals in the other. Don't worry about wayward whiskers, the food preparation space itself is guaranteed to be clean and sanitary.

While all are welcome to stop in and play, the main goal of the Cat Café is finding forever homes for the cats. And you don’t even have to be from the San Diego area to bring a cat home. “We’ve had a few long-distance adoptions," Wang says. "San Diego is a pretty big tourist destination, so we get a lot of out-of-state visitors. We’ve had people come in for conferences and vacations and end up falling in love with the animal and want to take it home.”

So if you’re looking for a new cat companion, or you’re in the area and just looking for an excuse to play with some furry friends while sipping on great coffee, Cat Café is well worth a visit.

-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor ALLISON BENNETT

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