New York’s first “cat café” may have only stayed open for a weekend, but by all accounts it was a big success.
The pop-up coffee shop in Manhattan’s East Village hosted 21 adoptable cats alongside a coffee shop. By the time its doors shut Sunday, thousands of people had stopped in, and most of the cats had been adopted.
The cat café was sponsored by Purina ONE to promote cat health awareness, and veterinarians were on site to answer questions from cat owners and help organise cat adoptions.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring this experience to North America for the first time and I’d say we definitely knew this event would work, but we never anticipated this sort of reception,” Niky Roberts from Purina ONE said.
The event generated so much buzz that enthusiastic crowds had to wait in catastrophic lines in order to spend a half-hour inside with the cats. Brooklyn resident Julie Beierwaltes, 26, said she waited for four hours after hearing about the café on Facebook.
“I heard about these cat coffee shops in Japan and I was hoping that this one in New York would be more like that, but, if this was a permanent café, I would totally hang out here,” Beierwaltes said.
We stopped by this weekend to see what all the hype was about.
The Cat Café was easy to spot due to the massive line of people waiting to get in. There was no entry fee, just a 5-hour wait time. Only 45 people were allowed inside the café at a time.
Even though the space could hold more people, the staff tried to keep the crowd down so the cats wouldn't feel overwhelmed. Even so, things seemed a little hectic for the feline guests.
Cats were not actually allowed in the 'café' potion of the venue. That's where patrons could pick up a complimentary drink, like the 'catachino.'
One barista had been trained to make cat faces on all of the drinks. By the time I got my 'catachino,' the baristas had already served 700 drinks that day.
After finishing my drink, I headed down this hallway, which led into the space where all the cats were hanging out.
Along the wall were framed portraits and bios of each cat. In total, there were 21 adoptable cats at the cat café. By Saturday, only 7 cats were still up for adoption.
In order to keep the cat vibe going, owners were not allowed to take their newly adopted felines home until the promotion was finished on Sunday evening.
This is what the play area looked like. It was really crowded and difficult to see the cats because there were so many people competing to pet them and take pictures.
All of the cats had been rescued by the North Shore Animal League, and were slowly introduced into the café atmosphere over a few weeks. Most of the cats didn't care much to interact with visitors.
I quickly got to pet a napping cat. The room was filled with structures for the cats to play and sleep on. The litter boxes were incorporated into the design of the venue, so they were difficult to spot.
There were some empty corners and plenty of chairs where you could sit down and watch the cats. Cat decor was everywhere.
There was a team operating a LiveStream feed of the café, cats, and the line outside. 'At times, we have had around 10,000 people watching the feed from around the world and engaging with us,' Roberts said.
As of right now, Purina ONE does not plan on bringing the Cat Café to other U.S. cities. Sorry, feline fanatics.
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