SAN DIEGO – Cat cafes have become a widespread phenomenon, with over 200 spots in the United States alone that allow people to sip on coffee or tea while hanging out with friendly felines.
However, a coffee shop right here in the Gaslamp Quarter, called “The Cat Cafe,” was one of the first in the country to bring together this purrr-fect combination.
Owner Tony Wang founded The Cat Café after being inspired by the first cat café in Paris that opened 2013. A life-long animal lover, he was interested in bringing something like it to America’s Finest City.
“The idea just kind of caught our attention and we decided, ‘Hey, you know what, let’s make a go of it here,’” Wang told FOX5SanDiego.com.
The Cat Café opened up in 2015 after about a year of planning. It was only the fifth spot for sipping on coffee while hanging with feline friends in the U.S. and the very first in Southern California.
It quickly took off in popularity, Wang said, particularly gaining a lot of traction on social media for the paws-itively adorable whiskered friends.
“(It) was really key, because, you know, cats kind of rule the internet, right?” he laughed.
Like many other cat hang-out spots, one of the primary focuses of the café is helping these adorable kitties find their forever homes.
Over the last seven years, Wang said that The Cat Café has facilitated nearly 780 adoptions through two local partners: the San Diego Humane Society for the first two years and, more recently, The Rescue House.
For Wang, adopting from a place like The Cat Café is often better for those who end up taking the kitties home, as it gives them the opportunity to bond more with their human.
“They get to interact with people (and) live in a home environment until they get adopted,” he explained. “It’s a good way for (them) to meet somebody, who’s going to be familiar with their personality and kind of understand what’s going on before they take them home.”
That was the case for one of the little kitties named Raven, who was recently adopted after someone connected with her while visiting The Cat Café.
The person who took Raven home had come into the restaurant with a group. Wang said they originally had no intention of adopting. While Raven had started out a little cautious, spending time with the group allowed her to really come out of her shell.
“She was rolling around, flopping, accepting pets (and) purring for them,” Wang said. “And they decided that they wanted to take her home.”
However, not everyone that comes into The Cat Cafe ends up adopting. Most of the people who visit are just looking to relax by sipping coffee and petting adorable felines.
“We get a lot of people who maybe have jury duty, or they’re here for a convention … and they come here (looking) really stressed,” Wang said. “Then just after one hour, or just hanging out with cats in a calm environment … you can just see that all the stress has left their face.”
Anyone looking to cuddle up with some adorable feline friends are encouraged to make reservations for The Cat Café here. However, walk-ins are welcome if space is available.
The Cat Café also hosts special events, including cat yoga and a “Kitties & Coffee” event for Comic-Con.