It's been almost 20 years since the world's first cat café opened in Taipei, but soon Vancouver will be added to the list of cities where coffeehouse patrons will be able to sip cappuccinos and eat biscotti in the presence of—you guessed it—cats.
Catfé, which is set to open in October at 88 Pender Street inside the International Village Mall, will offer its customers "cat themed treats and a shop filled with crafty meowchandise—all in the company of feline friends."
The City of Vancouver approved the café's permit application last week, and Catfé's owner and operator, Michelle Furbacher, says the space that she's leased in the International Village Mall is perfectly suited for the establishment.
"It was difficult to find a space, mostly because it was difficult to find a landlord that was okay with having animals on the premises," said Furbacher in a telephone interview.
"The space we've got is on the second floor in the southwest corner, and it's got a lot of big windows. It's great to have lots of natural sunlight too," she said.
As per Vancouver Coastal Health regulations, the animals must be kept away from any food and beverage preparation, so the cats will be kept in a separate lounge area, where patrons will be able to socialize with them. Food and beverages will be served on the other side of the café.
Furbacher has also teamed up with the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA), and will be setting up another room within the café where visitors will be able to adopt a cat on the spot.
An Indiegogo campaign for the café ended over a year ago, but helped raise $32,125 towards the opening of the unusual dining establishment.
For Furbacher, opening the café means she's found a way to make felines part of her daily job.
"I was a cat sitter for a long time and I was always thinking about ways that I could work with cats everyday... I saw a video a year and a half ago about a cat café in Japan and I didn’t think it was possible to have something like it in North America," she said.
It wasn’t until she took a road trip visit to cat cafés in San Francisco and Portland that she realized it would be a great addition to the city.
"There are a lot of cat lovers in Vancouver but a lot of them aren't able to keep pets of their own, so this is a great way for them to socialize with cats."