In the age-old debate of cats versus dogs, The Cat Cafe is pulling in some serious points in Downtown San Diego. While I have always been a dog person myself, the felines on Third Avenue were almost enough to make me into a cat convert.
Launched back in January 2015, The Cat Cafe is a coffee shop that is attached to a room filled with cats. For $6, patrons can choose any drink off the menu and have access to the cat room to get some one-on-one cuddle time with the cafe’s furry companions.
With my chai tea latte in hand, I entered the cat room and sat down at an empty table. Immediately, Gemma, an orange and white one-year-old tabby, crawled from the table onto my lap, nuzzling her head against my stomach. Playful and social, Gemma steals the attention from her sister, Glory, who is up for a partner adoption with her sister.
Adilene Jimenz, a student intern at The Cat Cafe, explained that Gemma and Glory came from the Rescue House, a non-profit organization that assists cats through its rescue initiatives. The Cat Cafe receives all their cats through the Rescue House, and most of the cats have been abandoned or abused before being rescued. In accordance with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals guidelines, The Cat Cafe houses no more than 12 cats at one time.
“The purpose of The Cat Café is to allow people to get to know the cats and then to get them adopted,” said Jimenz.
In order to adopt a cat, a cafe guest fills out an application after visiting with cats. Then, an adoption counselor will talk to the patron about the adoption and approve the application. Once approved, adoptions take place after-hours to minimize stress for the adopted cat. The usual adoption fee is $125, but it can vary in price for older cats. The length of stay for cats varies as well, with some cats only staying for two weeks while others stay for up to six months.
Jasper, a ten-year-old black shorthair who has been at The Cat Café for a few months, has made a lot of progress during his stay. Rescued after being abandoned by his family, he has benefited from the ample social interaction and playtime he receives at The Cat Café. He purred when I pet him, seeming genuinely happy with the attention.
“Most people that come here are cat lovers,” said Jimenz. “They just want to have a place to come and interact with them [the cats].”
This interaction can also take place among student interns like Jimenz and among 20 other volunteers who help take care of the cats. Urban Feline, a business that sells ethical and ecological friendly products, also donates to The Cat Café to help it run smoothly.
While The Cat Café is a business that aims to make a profit, they also are doing a lot of good in terms of animal welfare, having adopted out over 200 cats in their first two years in business. It also helps give students a chance to gain experience.
“I want to get to know these cats so I can know if this is what I really want to do with my career path,” said Jimenz.
During my stay at The Cat Café, I had the undivided attention of all of the cats. However, Jimenz explains that while mornings are usually relaxed and visitors can have as much time with the cats as they want, weekends and afternoons are busier and there are set, half hour times in the cat room.
During my time at The Cat Café, I was also greeted by a feline named Fig, an overweight three-year-old whose inquisitiveness led him to play with me among the green palm trees and various cat stands throughout the room. Next in line was another sibling pair, eight-month-old Josie and Mozart, who were lured over to me by the possibility of stealing refreshments. I finished my tea and, as I played with the cats, wished I could adopt one myself.