Is there anything cozier than having a hot cup of tea with a cat curled up in your lap? Maybe reading a book? Perhaps having a nice scone? Now imagine all this, except someone else vacuums the furniture at the end of the day.
If this sets your calico-crazy heart aflutter, I have wonderful news for you. Cat cafés — coffee shops where cats roam, play, and snuggle with whomever wanders in to have a cappuccino — are a thing, and they are quickly gaining in popularity (for obvious reasons).
After the first cat café opened in Taiwan in 1998, the idea quickly caught on in Japan, where many residents live in small apartments that don’t allow pets. Cat cafés became popular destinations for young people who wanted the companionship of a cat without having to deal with their testy landlords, and within five years, 79 cat cafés had opened across Japan.
In 2014, cat cafés finally pounced across the Pacific to the United States, but with a twist. Unlike their Asian counterparts, American cat cafés partner with local shelters to help their cats get adopted — with impressive results.
Four months after Cat Town, the first US cat café, opened in Oakland, California, its partner shelter reported that their euthanasia rate had declined from 41 to 21 percent. During that time, 184 cats transitioned from the café to permanent homes. Amazing, right?
And the trend is still spreading. Since 2014, cat cafés have made their way to every region of the country, providing spaces for people to work, hang out, and even practice yoga with feline friends. In addition to selling food and drinks, many cat cafés charge cover fees to help pay for their cats’ food, litter and health care. But, hey! It’s for a good cause, and the endorphins are free.
Intrigued? Here are five of the best US cat cafés you can and should visit ASAP.
Mauhaus Cat Café and Lounge in St. Louis, MO
Mauhaus Cat Café and Lounge and Lounge is sanctuary for cat lovers and pastry connoisseurs alike. This café prides itself on using high quality ingredients to create a totally homemade menu that’s different each day, complete with vegan and gluten-free options.
From macarons to salmon dip, their snacks are as tasty as they are beautiful—and popular enough to inspire their own recipe book, featuring 50+ pages of Mauhaus’s most beloved treats and cats. Reservations are encouraged to avoid long waits, but walk-ins are welcome.
Colony Cat Café in Pittsburgh, PA
If you’re hungry for more than just a snack, Colony Cat Café has a full restaurant and bar downstairs and a cat lounge upstairs. You can dine first, pet second — or you can have your food and drinks delivered to you in the cat loft.
If you’re a student or professional, you can even book a three-hour block in the cat loft to work alongside a napping kitty. (Free purrs and free wifi!) However, the cat loft holds only ten human visitors at a time, so make a reservation before you go — and don’t leave until you’ve tried a cat-inspired craft cocktail, like the Felix, the Garfield, or the Henrieta Pussycat.
Give Purrs a Chance in Berkley Springs, WV
Give Purrs a Chance is the largest cat café in the country with the most cats for adoption — and the most activities for their meow-minded guests. The Purrs property is home to a BBQ restaurant, an Alice in Wonderland-themed café, a dedicated yoga studio with regularly scheduled classes, and a boutique with hundreds of new and vintage items for sale, including cat-themed creations by local artists and craftspeople.
On Friday nights, you can enjoy acoustic music with cats. On Saturday nights, you can go dancing with cats. And most impressive of all, the whole kit(ten) and caboodle is powered by volunteers from the community.
Gem City Catfé in Dayton, OH
At Gem City Catfé, the café and cat lounge are fully separate, so even friends with allergies can join. But you’re welcome to bring snacks and drinks from the café into the lounge, if you prefer to sip your turmeric latte with a tabby.
They also have an art gallery upstairs, which provides extra space for activities like yoga, photography classes, workshops with local artists, or just getting some work done on your laptop. Gluten-free and vegan options are available from the café, and reservations are encouraged. Purrmione Granger, Edgar Allan Purr, and Wilpur Wright (to name just a few of the resident kitties) can’t wait for you to visit.
Cat Café Mad in Madison, WI
Cat Café Mad is a full café and creperie, with a handcrafted hot chocolate menu that would tempt even the most resolute dog person. Unlike most cat cafés, which require you to reserve and pay for specific blocks of time, $5 gets you unlimited all-day access to Café Mad’s collection of cats, and that price includes a drink.
If you’re in the area, you can drop in for an impromptu visit or attend a scheduled event, like coloring with cats. Or, if Wisconsin is too far away, you can stream their live cat cam anytime you need a dose of the warm fuzzies.