Themed cafes are all the rage. Everything from animal cafes, to death conversation cafes are popping up all over the globe. It seems as though people simply aren’t happy with anything that’s considered normal anymore. And the regular age-old coffee, cake, and croissant café is just so last year!
Maybe these themed cafes are just a natural progression of how the food industry tends to blend and meld everything to create new and interesting eating and dining experiences. As unpredictable and exciting as these progressions are, there’s no way that you’ve possibly even imagined what’s on the horizon for the themed café movement.
Global Cat Cafes: Where to Get Your Purr Therapy
Fancy your tea and nibbles with a cat on your lap offering soothing background purring tones? You can experience this whenever you please, even if you don’t in fact even own a cat. Cat cafes aren’t necessarily something new. There are numerous of these establishments all over the globe, with over a hundred in Japan alone.
The very first cat café in the world clawed its way up the proverbial scratch pole, and into being in Taipei, Tokyo, as far back as 1998. But, it wasn’t until a “purrfected” cat café model was established in Osaka, Japan in 2004, that the world pricked its alert pointed ears to the cat café movement.
It was only a matter of time before the rest of the world played “copy cat” and joined in making cat cafes a global phenomenon. Vienna’s Café Neko, established in 2012, was the first Cat Café outside of Asia. Soon the rest of Europe, including Hungary, Germany, and Italy followed suit, with their own versions of feline-friendly hangouts. This year, cat cafes are set to open in San Francisco and Oakland. These will be the first in the U.S.A.
Even major cities like London and Paris have hopped on the cat café express! London’s Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium opened earlier this year to a two month long waiting list. This cat café was “crowdfunded”, meaning that the public made online donations or became paid shareholders in order to raise funds for Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium to become a reality. Paris’ Café des Chats was funded in the same way, and opened its doors in 2013.
This trend of “crowdfunded” cat cafes is a testament to just how in demand cat cafes are. The majority of these cafes work on paid for time sessions in which you can come in, order coffee and cake, and hang out with a cat. Time sessions vary from 15 minutes to an hour. Many of the cats that make cafes their homes are rescued, stray, or up for adoption. So if you fall in deep cat-love, you may just be able to take the object of your affection home with you.
It is said that cat cafes came about in response to the growing desire to connect with pets in large urban areas. Major cities like Tokyo, Japan, London, and Paris are overcrowded with small, cramped apartments that have regulations banning pets. It seems that the need for humans to feel connected to animals is a great one that cannot be suppressed. Parisian cat cafe owners are strong believers in the actual healing properties that cats offer. Their purrs are supposed to produce vibrations that lower heart rate and blood pressure, but also relieve ailments like rheumatism and arthritis.
New York Gives the Rat Race a Whole New Meaning
Who wins the global rat race? New York every time right. There’s a clear reason why New York hasn’t quite jumped on the cat café bandwagon. They’re hoping to put their own unusual twist on things by looking into the possibility of opening a rat café in Boston.
According to owner Danny Garrison, rats and New York are synonymous. But still, how did this crazy idea come into fruition? Garrison explains that while sitting on the train reading an article about cat cafes, he noticed a burly rat scuffle across the train tracks. Suddenly it hit him; a café with rats instead of cats would go down perfectly in the bustling rat-filled city of New York.
Garrison is currently in talks with a designer to create a space that is both human and rat friendly. He has visions of large, distressed, yet comfortable couches that have holes in them for rodents to hide out in. Paper towel roll tunnels hanging from the ceiling, and constructed at ankle level, will make up the faux sewers and gutters that rats are commonly found scuffling through.
Not just any rats will crack the nod either. Locally sourced rats from the train lines will hold first priority. Even to New Yorkers local is lekker! Besides his rat sourcing plan, Garrison already has a vintage Italian cappuccino steamer, and the lease for a space in Boston that was formerly a bar.
Believe it or not, Garrison isn’t the only one with unconventional dreams of a rat café in New York! Will Stiles is currently in the process of raising funds for his own rat café to be situated in either Richwood or Long Island, Queens. The first to grab the cheese will be the first who manages to persuade the health department that a café intentionally hoarding rats, can still be sanitary.
As intriguing as the rat café idea is, it’s yet to become a reality. Until then, if you happen to think that cat cafes are the cat’s whiskers, be sure to visit one the next time you travel. Or, why not open up your own cat or rat café in South Africa?!
Bishop.K., 14 November 2013, Purrrfect: Cat Cafes Spring Up Around the World, CNBC, viewed 17 April 2014, from http://www.cnbc.com/id/101199175
Grossman.S., 25 September 2013, Paris Says Bonjour to Its First Cat Café, Time, viewed 17 April 2014, from http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/09/25/paris-says-bonjour-to-its-first-cat-cafe/
O’Connor.L., 2 March 2014, America is Finally Getting its First Cat Cafes, Huffington Post, viewed 17 April 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/03/cat-cafes_n_4719316.html
Stahlbaum.F., 1 April 2014, World’s First ‘Rat Café’Comes to Brooklyn, Bon Appetit, viewed 17 April 2014, from http://www.bonappetit.com/restaurants-travel/article/brooklyn-rat-cafe
Wikipedia, April 2014, Cat Café, viewed 17 April 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_caf%C3%A9
Image 1: Tuul / hemis.fr, n.d., Greece, Cyclades, Amorgos Island, Chora, viewed on 22 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/greece-cyclades-amorgos-island-chora-high-res-stock-photography/463018625#
Image 2: Bell, R., n.d., Siamese Cat sitting on Girl’s Lap, viewed on 22 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/siamese-cat-sitting-on-girls-lap-royalty-free-image/156915543#
Image 3: Niccirf, n.d., Mouse rat, viewed on 22 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/mouse-rat-royalty-free-image/127754133
Image 4: Wrubleski, D., n.d., Rat eating cake., viewed on 22 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/rat-eating-cake-royalty-free-image/181789376#
Featured image: Glaser, K., n.d., Cat on table at a cafe, Paris, FR, viewed on 22 April 2014, from http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/cat-on-table-at-a-cafe-paris-fr-high-res-stock-photography/121851681