New York City is officially jumping on the cat bandwagon—and it's for a good cause.
Meow Parlour, styled after Japan's famous cat cafes, opened today. At this Manhattan version, cat lovers can make an appointment to hang out with friendly felines and enjoy cat-themed treats from the team behind Macaron Parlour. The charitable twist? All of your new furry friends are available for adoption.
"It's starting to become a lot more socially acceptable to have a cat," said Christina Ha, co-founder of Macaron Parlour and one of the founders of Meow Parlour. "I'm reading articles in the news about men who are like, 'It's okay for a man to be a cat lady too.' It's becoming okay, I think, to publicly announce your particular love for cats."
Ha began to warm to the idea of a cat cafe after she adopted her first cat and began embracing her new title as a cat lady. Her partner, Emilie Legrand, has visited cat cafes in other countries and eventually sold Ha on the idea.
"Both Emilie and I have rescue cats," Ha said. "We had our own cats in mind when we came up with this project." She recalled visits to KittyKind, the adoption organization that supplies the cats for Meow Parlour, where she would see many of the cats growing older in cages without finding families.
"I would love it if someone found a cat from here and took him home and kept him for 10 years or the rest of his life, however long that may be," she said.
KittyKind is helping Ha and Legrand choose cats for the cafe, but all of them fit a general set of criteria: They are healthy and up to date on their shots, as well as spayed and neutered. All the cats at Meow Parlour are social, and though they've previously been caged for a while, they're expected to do well in the cafe's interactive environment.
One star in particular is Julian, who Ha said she had seen kept in a cage throughout his childhood. Now, at the cafe, he's so playful, she says, "he wants to high-five every single cat."
Meow Parlour is designed to keep cats comfortable. It has custom furniture they can use to hide in if they're feeling shy or scared, and patrons must sanitize their hands and take off their shoes before entering the cat area.
Ha and Legrande also worked extensively with the Health Department to make sure everything was up to code before opening.
"At first they kept hanging trying to hang up on me," Ha said. But once she explained she already owns two bakeries that have A-grades from the department, working within the department's rules became much clearer.
"I'm not saying I'm going to have a kitchen where I'm making macarons and a cat is helping me pipe them," she said. "I wasn't going to surprise them."
Abby Rogers is a feminist who is completely content being a crazy cat lady. She reads everything, but only in real book form — no e-readers thank you very much.