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We Chat with an Owner of Seattle’s First Cat Cafe

Andrew Hsieh of Seattle Meowtropolitan talks about adoption, advocacy, and the cafe's future.

Kezia Willingham  |  Jan 14th 2016


Seattle is fairly well known as being a cat friendly locale. We rank second in the United States for the number of single cat ladies. The Seattle area is home to four main animal shelters plus numerous feline rescue groups. It seems fitting that we would have a cat cafe here. And in December we finally got one.

Kitty pastries at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

Kitty pastries at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

I visited Seattle Meowtropolitan Café on a clear, crisp December afternoon during its opening weekend. The café is located across from Archie McPhee on North 45th Street in Wallingford, a popular neighborhood that also is home to a variety of trendy shops.

My latte was so cute with this paw print!

My latte was so cute with this paw print!

Interestingly, Seattle Meowtropolitan is partnering with Regional Animal Services of King County. This county shelter is where I got my start volunteering with animal rescue in its Cat Meet and Greet Program. My daughter and I volunteered for about a year. We helped match felines to potential adopters. It was here that I gained most of my hands-on knowledge about animal rescue in King County. We also fostered a number of cats and dogs, four of whom have become permanent members of my household. I couldn’t help but feel proud that the shelter is supplying adoptable cats to Seattle Meowtropolitan. It seems fitting that it’s the shelter linked to Seattle’s first cat cafe.

Zinnia Willingham while volunteering at RASKC.

Zinnia Willingham while volunteering at Regional Animal Services of King County.

Upon first entrance, visitors will find that the café is warm and very clean. I was promptly greeted as I entered, and enjoyed a tasty latte while I waiting for my interview with Andrew Hsieh, one of the proprietors.

Andrew Hseih and I at Seattle Meowtropolitan.

Andrew Hsieh and I at Seattle Meowtropolitan.

What inspired you to open Seattle’s first cat cafe?

This idea has been around for about 20 years in Asia, where cat cafes are very common. I am originally from Taiwan, so I was used to them there. Last April when I saw the news about other cat cafes opening up in North America, I thought it would be a great idea to start one in Seattle.

A black kitty lounging at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

A black kitty lounging at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

Tell me about the partership with Regional Animal Services of King County.

We were talking with several shelters, but Gene Mueller, the manager of Regional Animal Services of King County, was supportive of the idea and approached us with a proposal. He was very willing to work with us to create an adoption system that meets everyone’s needs.

How many cats will reside in the café at one time?

Fifteen cats will be here at once. Those numbers might go up to 20 in the summer. We will usually have between 10 and 20, depending on the season.

One of the staff members on lunch break gets a nice visit from one of the kitties.

One of the staff members on lunch break gets a nice visit from one of the kitties.

How does the adoption process work?

We are still working on the system — trying to balance the needs of the cats, the cafe, and the shelter. Our goal is to make it as low stress as possible for the cats. The cats will eventually be listed on the shelter website and ours as well. We will be adding cat profiles online. A lot of work is in process right now to figure out all of the details

Grey kitty at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

Grey kitty at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

Do guests who are interested in adopting need to bring anything with them during an initial visit?

No. We will eventually have specific adoption days scheduled, probably one or two days per week. The adoptions will be processed through Regional Animal Services of King County, and the shelter’s application will be used.

Do you plan to partner with any other local rescues/shelters or feline advocacy efforts?

No. Because we want to minimize health outbreaks that would be more likely to occur if we brought in cats from too many different places.

How many cats do you have?

I have none at home because I am too busy and it wouldn’t be fair for them with me being gone a lot. I help take care of the cats here at the café, and I also travel a lot.

Do you plan to sell cat-themed gifts or swag? Do you have an online shop?

Definitely. Will be adding more online too. Right now we are sourcing these products.

Swag available for purchase at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

Swag available for purchase at Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe.

Do you plan to offer feline advocacy resources on your website or in the cafe?

Yes, definitely in the future. The cafe will be a celebration of feline culture — whatever we can do to help cats. We are selling a premium feline experience here.

To learn more, visit the Seattle Meowtropolitan website, its Facebook page, its Twitter feed, or Regional Animal Services of King County.

About the Author: Also known as the Breadwinning Laundry Queen, Kezia works as the Health Coordinator for an urban Head Start program by day and writes for Catster and Dogster on the side. She lives in Seattle with her family, which includes a pack of rescued cats and dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @KeziaWillingham.