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10 Things I Witnessed While Visiting the Nation's First Cat Cafe

In which I take a press tour of the Purina ONE Cat Cafe in New York City's Bowery neighborhood.

 |  Apr 25th 2014  |   18 Contributions


The first cat cafe in America opened this week in New York City. Located on the Bowery, the venture is sponsored by Purina ONE and will be open until the end of Sunday, April 27. It's situated at 168 Bowery and its hours of operation are 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

In the name of highbrow kitty reporting, I went along to the press opening to partake in coffee and cats. Then I took a cue from the feline fancies and picked up some exquisite smoked fish from the nearby Essex Market. Here are my observations on the kitty-packed java shack.

1. Through the looking glass

The outside of the cat cafe is typified by lots of expansive glass windows, allowing passersby and the cats inside to gawp at each other. One devoted all-white furry chap took a penchant to perching on top of a couch backing onto a prime window -- a position of privilege he guarded from feline intrusion with much gusto.

2. Litter boxes

When I was in need of the restroom, I made the mistake of asking, "Where are the human litter boxes?" I thought it was hilarious; no one working at the cat cafe seemed to have any idea what I was talking about.

Nevertheless, the big people bathroom was embellished with some cat stickers on the mirror, while the feline boxes were crafted out of sleek dark brown wood. Not sure I'd be too keen to put a coffee cup on top of one, though.

3. Cat coffee

The main perk of the cat cafe's menu is the fabled cat'achino -- which has a dutiful barista etching a cute picture of a cat in the froth of your brew. A fun addition to the menu would be some of that wine for cats that was released in Japan last year.

4. The hall of fame

All of the cats strutting around the cafe are up for adoption. A hall of fame display on the wall shows pictures and short descriptions of the full roster.

My favorites of the bunch were Yukon, a five-year-old all-white longhair, and Sushi, a six-month-old gray-and-white female. It apparently transpires that when it comes to cats I do not get to name myself, all I'm really looking for is kitties monikered after foodstuffs. (Suggestion: Bottarga.)

5. Cat cafe etiquette: Part one

I'm unsure what the proper etiquette is when it comes to removing cats from chairs if they get to a seating spot before you. Prudent warning: Don't ask a cat to watch your laptop while you use the restroom -- they are highly lovable but naturally irresponsible creatures.

6. Such great heights

One domestic shorthair star decided that the shelves and playthings set up for the cat cafe were too limiting -- and decided to scale a diagonal ridge along one of the walls. After drawing a crowd he then plummeted somewhat gracefully down onto the terra firma below him. Quite the dramatic aside.

7. Feline improv

As mentioned above, the cat cafe is stocked with a liberal amount of toys and feline furniture. Obviously a lot of the cats ignored these man-made devices and preferred to play with the cord for the blinds in the window (pictured above) or, in the case of one scamp, a bunch of power cables behind a litter box.

8. A quiet place

One little guy with some dignified white mittens found what he thought was the quietest spot in the cat cafe and proceeded to snooze through most of the afternoon. He's gonna have quite the shock when the area opens to the public and he finds out he's been napping in the kids' corner. Peace and quiet will not ensue.

9. Collect 'em all

As all of the resident cats are available for adoption, they walk around with little ID tags on their collars. This study specimen is adopting a fierce yet noble stance in a bid to impress potential adopters.

10. Cat cafe etiquette: Part two

I suspect this sort of behavior is the feline equivalent of breastfeeding a baby in public. That is an observation, not a judgment.

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About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

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