Benefits of Cat Cafés

While the first known cat café opened in Taiwan in the 1990s, it wasn’t until they reached Japan in 2004 that the world began to notice. Since then, cat cafés have expanded to Europe, North America, and beyond, but they’re not necessarily the same everywhere you go. Two cat cafés in the same city may have different goals, rules, and costs. Regardless, they’re all super fun and great for both the cats and the people of a community.

What are the different goals of cat cafés?

The earliest cat cafés in Asia were primarily built as a mental health boost for humans. Many apartments in these cities are tiny, and even more come with pet bans, so lonely humans needed a place to interact with the pets they couldn’t own. The cat café provided that opportunity with an hourly cost for hanging out with kitties and getting some furry, purry love after a stressful day of work or during a leisurely afternoon. American cat cafés are more focused on adoption efforts, but you may still pay an hourly rate to chill with some cool cats because not all cafés raise money the same way. 

How do cat cafés get money?

First, understand that some are for-profit while others put all of their income back into cat care and local cat initiatives, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate how they raise money (i.e., how you pay for the privilege of kitty companionship). Some cafés charge hourly for cat visitation, while others allow free entry but offer a coffee bar, pastries, other snacks, and often some cool kitty merch to earn an income. Depending on a municipality’s health codes, cats may have free access to the café area, but it’s more common in the US that they are kept in a food-free area, so the food remains in a pet-free area.

Are cats well cared for at cat cafés?

Beyond. In fact, in many cases, these cats receive better care and treatment than most, by virtue of the sheer number of people working with them. Cafés with live-in residents often come from rescues that provide a full workup of spay/neuter services, vaccinations, deworming, de-fleaing, and whatever else they may need for optimal health. Beyond being doted on by café staff who love cats, they often receive additional care from visiting veterinary staff and/or community organizations that work with the café. Far from exploiting our favorite furballs, cat cafés provide exceptional care, and kitties reap additional benefits beyond medical treatment. 

Yay! What are the other benefits for cats?

At the most fundamental level, more kitty lives are saved thanks to the existence of cat cafés. Because rescues typically populate them, they are essentially non-traditional foster facilities, providing care and good homes until someone like you comes along to adopt. Freeing up space from the rescue group allows them to save another animal from a shelter, getting more cats off the street (or worse) while they await families forever.

Fantastic news, but what else?

You’re right; there’s more! Some cat cafés host cats from shelters and rescue more like a day camp than a foster home, bringing them in for predetermined periods to get some Facetime with the public (potential adopters), much like some pet stores host animals from area shelters during adoption drives. In these cases, the visiting cats get serious benefits from the socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation they can’t achieve in shelter crates. But even those staying long-term at cafés, as in the foster model or those cafés that just keep permanent residents (more common abroad), receive these same benefits of increased socialization and stimulation. Perhaps best of all, cats in cafés are exposed to a broader pool of potential “owners” than those actively seeking a new cat by visiting shelters or researching rescues, increasing the likelihood that these champs will find happy homes.

You said there were benefits to people, too . . .

There are! For those visiting cat cafés, because they love kitties but can’t have any at home because of rental agreements, space constrictions, budget, allergies, or any other reason, cat cafés offer access to social kitties looking for attention until they find their own homes. And these kitties do need and want the socialization that comes from visits, too, so it’s basically like doing volunteer work, even though we all know you’re there for you—and that’s totally fine!

There are potential physical benefits, too. As Newsweek reported, as little as ten minutes of petting a cat has been shown to have a “significant impact” on human stress levels. That’s not only a boon to your mental health but can lead to other benefits like reduced risk of stroke and other cardiovascular disease, too. Finally, cat cafés offer socialization opportunities with other cat lovers in the community. They can raise awareness of local cat-focused organizations needing volunteers, donations, and other support. Some cafés donate all tips to these organizations, which means a visit supports not only the café itself (and its cats!) but also less fortunate cats in need of assistance. Not all kitties are outgoing enough to enjoy the café environment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get support from cat cafés, too, and many do.

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