Cat cafes are one of Japan's hottest trends (like maid cafes), but New Yorkers have finally jumped on the bandwagon with North America's first pop-up cafe on Thursday. Though New York is known as a dog-loving city, hundreds of cat lovers lined up for this weekend's event, hosted by Purina One, to hear experts talk about cat health and well-being while enjoying a cup of coffee.
“We didn’t expect the line to be this long,” said Jane Park, 30. “All I knew about the event is that there were going to be cats that we can play with, and I was sold!” Park said she has owned cats before but never took them outside her apartment in the city, as it posed too big a risk.
Rebecca Tsang, 30, said, “I came to play with the cats because there’s not any space for a cat in my apartment.”
Though most people came to cuddle with kittens, some people were just there for the freebies. “I came for the coffee,” said Eric Uster, a freshman at Pace College.
The cafe houses 16 cats in total and has glass doors separating the coffee bar and pastries from the cat area; customers can take their coffee to the cat area.
In a statement to Metro, the Department of Health said of the cafe, "For any food service establishment permitted by the Health Department, live animals, other than fish in a tank or service animals, are prohibited. The Cat Café is being set up in an event space with a cafe. The operators of the facility have assured the Department that cats will be kept in a separate room, and an inspector will be assigned to monitor the event to assure that health code requirements are being followed."
Until Sunday, the cafe will offer free drinks and pastries from a local vendor; cat and coffee lovers alike can grab cat'achinos while hanging out with cats; the animals will be participating in an adoption event through the North Shore Animal League on Sunday.
Taylor Cuomo, 19, said she saw the event on BuzzFeed and brought her friends along to enjoy an afternoon of cats, coffee and conversation. “I would adopt a cat, but I live in the dorms,” Cuomo said.
After the adoption event, America will have to go back to cat-free cafes, but hopefully not for long. Permanent cat cafes are in the works in San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Los Angeles. Now that this cafe has paved the way for a space where coffee and cats can come together, it seems only a matter of time before this becomes the next big thing in New York City.
The cafe is at 168 Bowery.