Meow's the time -- Dallas is finally pouncing on the cat cafe trend with not just one, but two forthcoming cuddle and caffeination stations. No kitten!
For those unfamiliar with the concept, it's simple: A cat cafe is a coffee shop with a relaxed environment that's also home to a bunch of cats that mingle with patrons. The first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in the late 1990s and the concept was popularized in Japan, where there are reportedly more than 100 of them. The trend has since spread across the globe and into American cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Cleveland and Washington D.C.
The animals at cat cafes are usually up for adoption, so if you make a new friend you can likely give him or her a forever home.
Because of health codes, cat cafes separate where food and drink is prepared from the areas where people play with the cats. Still, each location has its own way of organizing operations. Here's the skinny on two cat cafes coming to Dallas.
The Cat Connection
The Cat Connection has been a Farmers Branch institution since 1985, providing a variety of cat grooming and boarding services, and selling pet products. Although the store does not run an adoption agency, it works with several, including Texas Cares, and hosts cats in-store.
This year, Cat Connection has attained a nearly 100 percent adoption rate, said co-owner Errin West. That's how she hatched idea for a series of pop-up cat cafes, which will take place four consecutive Saturdays beginning August 8.
"We must be close to 20 now for cats that have come in and gone through here this year. That beats every other year," she said. "That's kind of why we're like, we need to get a little more active in adoption because it's working."
The Cat Connection is converting an 1,100-square-foot space near the back of the store into a lounge with furniture, cat towers and wall shelves where cats and humans alike can relax. People who want to pet and play with the animals enter through a separate room where the pop-up cafe will serve espresso drinks from Lovecup Coffee and pastries from a local baker.
All drinks and food are complimentary, meaning you can cuddle with kitties free of charge.
The lounge is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and groups hang with the animals in 20-minute intervals.
Each weekend a different organization will bring cats to the cafe. While entry is free, adoption rates do apply and vary by agency. Cat Connection will be working with Operation Kindness (August 8), DFW Purebred and Domestic Cat Rescue (August 15), Texas Cares (August 22) and City of Farmers Branch (August 29), all of which will also be accepting donations.
To sweeten the deal, West is having celebrity cat Sauerkraut Kitty, a special needs rescue, come to the August 8 event to pose for pictures. West said if the pop-ups go well, she'll likely continue doing them.
"It wouldn't be seven days a week, but maybe every Saturday we could have an event," she said.
The Cat Connection, 14233 Inwood Rd., Dallas. 972-386-6369. thecatconnection.com.
Muffinmeow Cafe and Cat Lounge
Washington, D.C. native Christine Perry had long joked that if things didn't work out in corporate America, she could always open a cat cafe. Now the 25-year-old is working to make that dream a reality with Muffinmeow Cafe and Cat Lounge, which she hopes to open in late spring or early summer 2016.
"When I latched onto the idea of running a cat cafe, I knew I couldn't do it here," she said recently by phone from the nation's capital. "We already have a great cat cafe and I wanted to bring it somewhere that doesn't already have one."
It doesn't hurt that the cost of living is lower then she's used to and the job market seems promising, she added.
Perry first encountered cat cafes during a semester abroad in Osaka, Japan. There, the cat cafe movement took hold because many apartments didn't allow pets or charged lofty fees to have them, she said. The cafes became hubs for young singles, who came to relax in the company of an animal.
That's the concept Perry plans to move forward with once she finds a space to lease in Dallas. She's coming to visit prospective locations in Uptown, Downtown and Deep Ellum at the beginning of August. In her ideal situation, Muffinmeow would also integrate aspects of Japanese culture into the environment. She's already been talking to the Humane Society about a partnership for providing adoptable cats.
Many of the logistics depend on where Perry decides to found her business. But she believes the cat cafe's benefits remain the same.
"It's not like going to a shelter where the cats are all looking a little bit depressed. It's a place to have fun, do homework, kick back and relax and go into your own little world," she said.