Whole Life Magazine

August / September 2017

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/859762

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 35

uring the Saturday lunch rush, customers at Montre- al's Café Venosa vied for feline attention. "Some peo- ple bring catnip spray!" a local woman whispered as we watched a cat vigorously rub his head against a young man's black shoe. " at's cheating!" I complained. She nodded solemnly. But when 30 cat lovers fi nd themselves in a room with only eight cats, sometimes they play dirty. Feline afi cionados instinctively understand the concept of cat cafes: Of course, the presence of a half dozen cats vastly improves the experience of going out for coff ee and a scone. Cat detractors are baffl ed. People pay admission to hang out with cats? What an unhygienic scam! But obviously the target market is big enough; cat cafes are popping up all over the world. Angelenos have been drinking lattes while petting kitties at Crumbs and Whiskers since it opened in 2016. Why Cat Cafés? Taiwan gets credit for opening the world's fi rst cat café, Cat Gar- den, in 1998. e idea soon caught on in Japan, where 79 cat cafes had opened by 2010, some getting a bit gimmicky by featuring all black cats, rare breeds, or roly polies. e trend eventually spread to Western countries. Now locals and travelers can get their cat fi x from New Zealand to Estonia. It seems like every metropolis – Boston, Salt Lake City, Dublin – that doesn't yet have a cat café has a place holder website announcing one is coming soon. In true British tradition, Bristol has Bag of Nails, a cat pub. Some cat lovers visit cat cafes because they can't have a kitty at home due to landlord restrictions, an allergic partner, or a tempo- rary living situation. Others can never get enough cat love. The Cat's Experience Some critics worry that the cafes exploit and profi t from cats. However, the cat cafes I've visited have all seemed pretty cushy places for cats to either live or hang out while waiting for adop- tion. Most US cat cafes partner with shelters, serving as foster homes for adoptable kitties. Cat cafes free up space at rescue cen- ters and give cats and humans a relaxed place to get to know each other to make sure a prospective adoption is a good match. Cafes generally charge an admission fee and sell drinks and snacks, which hopefully covers kitty upkeep and enough for the owners and employees to eke out a living. Each café has its own anti-harassment rules, such as not picking cats up or bugging them if they choose to retreat to high places. Placards around Café Venosa warn, "Ne tirez jamais un chat par la queue, les moustaches, les oreilles, les poils…vous comprenez." In other words, do not pull on any kitty parts. Cats who've had enough human interaction can retreat to a back room. Presumably, that's also where the litter boxes are. Even the most hardcore cat fanatic doesn't want a boxside seat while drinking a mocha. Science & Stats Why does animal companionship bring such joy? Philip Tedes- chi, the executive director of the University of Denver's Institute for Human-Animal Connection, has spent decades studying in- terspecies relationships. "One of the things we know now about the new science behind human/animal interaction is it is chang- ing our brains so that we see a release of oxytocin and an increase in dopamine production in the brain." Yep, time with Fluff y boosts our feel-good hormones. e American Pet Products Association estimates that nearly 65% of American households include at least one pet. Ameri- cans count approximately 77.8 million dogs and 85.8 million cats among their family members. " ose are everyday forms of men- tal health that we've never talked about that way or studied much," Tedeschi says. "But that really is a major part of the way people cope with everyday stressors, and they're some of the most im- portant relationships we have." A Few Notable Cat Cafés Crumbs & Whiskers, Washington and Los Angeles A er visiting Catsmosphere in ailand, animal lover Kanchan Singh decided to launch Crumbs & Whiskers in Washington, DC. D Visiting Cat a Cat a Visiting Café Café Brighten Your Day in a Meow-kinda Way! By Teresa Bergen Photo bottom right: Courtesy of Siberian Cat Cafe, Photo top left: KT Kusmaul, Photos: Teresa Bergen 20 wholelifetimes.com

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - August / September 2017