That sounds like my worst nightmare, he said, horror pulsating in his eyes, loathing floating about like a midge lodged in his eyelid. A room? Yes a room. And what pray tell is in that room? Well, dear sir, the room is… Entirely filled with just… Cats.
The Cat Cafe (aka Meow Parlour) is a concept that has jumped the ocean from Japan, somehow, as far as this blogger and The Google knows, avoided the left coast and descended right into the middle of the city of rules and regulations and people who have little time for quiet spaces and activities not related to their career. Having somehow navigated the many and sundry agents and departments and inspectors and boards, the Cat Cafe has managed to bring a new concept to Gotham. Have a moment with an animal in a casual setting and do something different if not… well, a little odd.
True, this idea was jump-started here by Big Catfood with their sponsored pop up cafe in the Lower East Side cum SOHO (maybe in East HO?). The lines of expectant cat petters wrapped around the block and the cafe was swamped from early morning until closing time. Working not far from there I had occasion to go expecting that in a city of so many little stompable tea cup dogs that I would have no trouble getting a double mocha latte con leche avec mucho grande Carlsbad potato boing boing but I was mistaken. Gotham is indeed filled with cat people. Secret and independent and unpredictable and… Well, feline.
And we cat power people don’t have to directly squish excrement using a plastic bag, feel the warm wet texture and wondering if some particles aren’t making their way through the microns and onto our hands that we inexplicably place on our face, fingers in the nose, licking our hand then wondering why did we do that.
Cat people know that kitteh tracks footprints from the catbox to the counter and we’ve eaten our weight in fur and leavings and sand or clay dust several times over. We’re lectured that microbes have taken control of our nerves, our very senses are set to horde kitties, yet no one questions why dog owners kiss their pooches just after Fifido has gotten done sopping up any residue about the genital area with their tongue.
Not that a room of dogs isn’t fun. They are great animals, most are playful and loyal, and outside of the city you can have much less direct contact with their excreta. However, people who don’t like cats… Hate them. Fear them. Think about ways to remove cats from the planet. Loath and cannot understand them. Which is strange… I do not know of a cat person who has the same sexualized-phobic bug-eyed hatred of dogs. I guess, being aloof, we just don’t care enough about running with the pack to spend time hating on doggies and their humans.
The Cat Cafe is a storefront on the edge of Chinatownvillageworld. A simple sculpture serves as the sign and proclaims, meow! [emphasis added]. On the occasions this blogger has been there the space is clean and quiet and there are one or two generally young staff there to guide your “experience.” It is certainly an experience. A little awkward at first. But not because of the cats. Because this is such a strange activity to be doing in front of other humans. A cat is a very personal companion. My own cat remembers me even if I have been traveling for weeks and will come trilling from wherever he is to greet me, even if for a moment before returning to murder other, smaller animals.
At the Cat Cafe, the cats cycle in and out since they are all for adoption. Each one is spirited but in a moment one can tell that of the 15 or so cats, each one has a unique personality making he human condition appear not quite as special among the rank and phylum of the natural world.
One can order cafe items however these are brought over by a server since health regulations don’t permit a tea bag being tossed into a paper cup next to a cat. Understandable, I guess even if extreme and one can still consume those items among the cats so I am not sure what the law is there to accomplish but will assume it is well meaning and keeps me safe. There are cats to pet and play with but don’t pick them up and please, please, don’t tap on the glass on the front window. It bothers the staff and I’m sure the cats hate it too. The last day I was there a woman was out at the window with a dog and held the dog close to the cats in the window. The dog was afraid, greatly so, of these cats, one of which eventually swatted at the glass in the general area of the panicked dog’s head. Other cats came to the window to stare at the trembling dog. Cats are indeed assholes.
The other humans in the space are a mixture of types. I have gone during the lunch hours so the majority of others in the space are humans that do human things in offices and venture out in office packs for a lunchtime activity. The space is also quiet. Music is low, if any, and that is also unusual in a city that doesn’t allow for one to have a private thought but must be fed songs to think about to take up the hollow space.
If you have a chance to venture to the Cat Cafe do so. It is a unique experiment and indeed, as they say even if a little slick in the copy, an experience. However, while there is not a line out the door…. do make a reservation. And get the cat face cookies. If for no other reason that the Toxoplasmosis gondii told you to.