cat cafe thumb meet the cats
Yep, New York has a cat café
01:29 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Meow Parlour, New York City's first cat cafe, is now open

The cafe's founders teamed up with the no-kill adoption group KittyKind

Coffee and pastries are made and sold at a separate storefront to meet health code regulations

CNN  — 

Julian likes ornithology and “Downton Abbey.” He’s quite the gentleman, and hates being late for tea.

For potential admirers, it’s important to note that Julian is a cat.

He is one of the stars of New York City’s first cat cafe, Meow Parlour, which opened on Monday to much fanfare and a full reservation book. The cats that purr and pounce while patrons sip coffee and nosh on pastries aren’t just there for added ambiance – they’re hoping to get adopted.

Julian’s portrait hangs on the wall with those tongue-in-cheek compatibility stats, alongside other potential matches like Marty, Spot, Squinkles and Lucky Lemon. Their personalities are classified in types like “bookish” for the reserved cat or “cheerleader” for a more high-energy, friendly one.

But being billed as a novelty cat cafe merely scratches the surface, say cafe founders Christina Ha and Emilie Legrand.

“I think we’ll feel really like we’ve made it when we get our first cat adopted,” Ha said.

She and Legrand teamed up with KittyKind, a no-kill, volunteer-run adoption group, in order to uniquely brand their cafe but also give it an altruistic twist. KittyKind currently takes in between 500 and 600 cats a year, with 27 cages in a Manhattan branch of a pet store and a network of foster homes.

The duo were inspired by similar concepts in places like Taiwan, France and Japan, but didn’t just want to jump on the bandwagon for the sake of pulling the heartstrings of cat lovers to sell more lattes. They wanted to give back by way of “fur-ever” homes. Ha rescued two cats, Mr. Socks and Pickle – the latter from KittyKind – and decided to partner with the organization after Meow Parlour was a go.

“It brings tears to my eyes to see Lucky Lemon there,” says Miriam Hibel, who serves on KittyKind’s board of directors and is an adoption counselor.

Hibel says KittyKind is particularly committed to helping cats with special needs, whether disease, old age or disability. For a cat to be placed in the cafe, it has to have a clean bill of health, get along with other cats and be nonaggressive. She says it’s really an opportunity to showcase a cat that might get depressed or hissy in a cage and, therefore, be overlooked by an adopter elsewhere.

“If you’re sitting at the cat cafe and you’re having a cup of coffee and this beautiful 10-year-old calico cat comes and rubs up against your leg, and you’re someone who is open to adopting, you’re just as likely to have your heart connect to that cat as Julian, who is 10 months old,” Hibel says.

Ha and Hibel agree that the cafe is a boon for both species. The ultimate goal is that after an afternoon of cat companionship, a patron will want to extend that short-term visit into a lifelong relationship. Hibel says the application process is exactly the same as going through KittyKind’s shelter: There’s an application, interview, home visit and adoption fee of $125 to cover medical costs.

As for the health code regulations relating to animals, Ha worked closely with the Department of Health in the planning stages. There is a separate storefront around the corner, the Meow Parlour Patisserie, where customers can purchase baked goods and beverages to bring into the cafe.

And yes, they do have lint rollers.