Cat Caf Craze Crosses the Pacific


Earlier this year I wrote about the increasing popularity of “cat cafs” in Japan. Then I learned that the cats-and-coffee trend was spreading to other Asian countries like South Korea and China. Now the bug has jumped the Pacific, and the first-ever Canadian cat caf is causing a stir.

Small Things, a caf and bookstore (and thrift shop) in Sudbury, Ont., is the latest haven for cat-loving coffee drinkers.

An article in the Ontario Sun attributes the success of the cat caf phenomenon to the human need for touch, which goes largely unfulfilled in “low-touch” societies like Canada and Japan. According to the article, experts say that people spend so much time engaging with computers, smart phones and tablets that they’ve forgotten the importance of human contact. Because of this, the trend of “sensory marketing” has taken the business world by storm.

But Small Things doesn’t offer cats with its coffee just to lure people in the door and get them to buy more things: the felines at the caf are available for adoption. The cats causing customers to melt from cuteness are adoptable animals from Sudbury’s Cat Adoption Trust. As they say on their website, “at Small Things, every day is Adopt-A-Cat Day.”

Personally, I’m of two minds about cat cafs: On one hand, I’d be much more likely to go to a place where I could enjoy a cat with my coffee. But on the other hand, when I go to my local coffee shop I’m usually there to write. It’s much easier for me to work on my Great American Novel when my beloved cats aren’t poking at my keyboard, rubbing their heads on my hands and walking back and forth in front of my monitor.

As author Dan Greenburg once said, “Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance.”

Darn right! In fact, I’m trying to write this post while my Siouxsie-cat is sitting in my lap and politely (for now) asking for my attention. It’s so hard to say no! And this is why feline company makes it almost impossible for me to get into the state of perfect creative flow that a novel demands.

I’m not the only writer who spends time at my local coffee house, either. There’s a rotating population of authors and students cuddled into the Overstuffed Naugahyde Couches of Awesomeness, clicking away on laptops while music flows through headphones attached to MP3 players or music-filled computers, fueled by ridiculously strong coffee drinks and delicious pastries.

What would become of us if we were to have a cat with our coffee? NaNoWriMo word counts would drop precipitously. Homework would go undone. Research would give way to cat cuddling. Meetings would stop every five minutes for cat-petting breaks. Basically, the creative productivity in my downeast Maine town would drop alarmingly.

But for the lonely and catless, those feline friends could be a lifeline. Not only that, but if the caf owners were to work with their local shelters, this could be a great way to boost cat adoptions.

What do you think? If you’re a caf owner, would it be worth it to navigate the endless labyrinth of health code regulations to allow cats to spend time in your establishment? If you’re a coffee shop patron, would you be more likely to take your business to a place where you can enjoy a cat with your latt?

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