Good news, my fellow cat fanatics: Spokane is finally getting its first cat cafe! Yes, if you’ve been looking for a Spokane cat cafe, you’re sure to love the latest news: Kitty Cantina is coming to Spokane, and it’s going to be a place where you can enjoy beverages, food – and cats!
We interviewed the owners of Kitty Cantina to find out more about Spokane’s first cat cafe, plus what people can expect at a cat cafe, how you can take one of those cuddly cats home, and more.
What is a Cat Cafe?
First, what exactly is a cat cafe? Can you really eat food while hanging out and playing with cats? Local news station KREM put together an awesome video of what Kitty Cantina will be like, and what you can expect from a cat cafe. Watch it below!
Cat cafe food and drinks are NOT made around the cats. The cat area and the cafe areas are separate, and they are separated by a door, so once again – cats won’t be sitting on the counter while you order your wine.
I’m actually a big cat cafe fan, and all of the cat cafes I have visited are very serious about cleanliness – they encourage you to use antibacterial soap provided, wash your hands in adjacent bathrooms, and of course don’t let the cats taste your espresso or food.
Why Are Cat Cafes So Popular?
Originally popularized in Japan, cat cafes are now a worldwide phenomena. Initially, cat cafes started popping up around Japan because people traditionally live in small apartments on condos that do not allow pets, and people wanted the companionship of a pet without getting one themselves.
View this post on Instagram
For many of the same reasons they became popular in Japan, cat cafes became popular in the United States. Not everyone has the time for a pet, or is allowed to according to rental agreements. If you’ve tried renting recently in Spokane, you’ll know it’s actually pretty hard to find a reasonable place that allows pets here! And if you just want to drop in for an hour, get some cuddles and a snack, a cat cafe is perfect.
Also, this isn’t the first time Spokane has had a cat cafe! In May, during National Pet Week, the Spokane Public Library offered a cat cafe downtown. The week included pet-themed story times, a session on making your own pet toy, and a screening of the movie the ‘Aristocats’. The kittens at the library’s cat cafe were also available for adoption, and came from the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS).
In general, it takes a long time to open cat cafes because the permitting is strict and can be confusing – for regulators. According to Seattle Met, “It took Matt Lai and his fellow founders of Wallingford’s Seattle Meowtropolitan more than a year and a half to secure permits before opening in 2015. The state department of health was so puzzled by their setup that Lai had to visit in person to explain his applications.”
Luckily, we don’t have much longer to wait until the Kitty Cantina opens here in Spokane!
Interview with Justyn and Tori Cozza of Kitty Cantina
1) What made you want to open a cat cafe?
If you have a bottle of wine and a few hours we’ll tell you! Summarized – we love cats – plain and simple. We knew we wanted to open our own business but wanted to wait until we discovered something that our daughter could be a part of. After our first cat café visit in Oregon, it hit us like a ton of catnip.
2) Do you think Spokane is ready for a cat cafe/why did you choose to open Kitty Cantina in Spokane?
Spokane is our home. This is a small city with a big heart. The concept of a cat café is foreign to most folks, but we know Spokane loves coffee and cats. No, really, we checked the statistics.
View this post on Instagram
TONIGHT: Spend your Friday evening in the cafe side of NEKO with Hawaiian Reggae singer/songwriter @thisisirielove for our first ever ALOHA FRIDAY! Take a paws and enjoy her island vibes as you purr over a White Claw. 🌊 🌸 🏝 Friday 11/1 from 6:15 – 8pm! We’ll see mew there.
3) For those who haven’t been to Neko or any other cat cafes, how does this all work?
I can’t speak for every other café as the health regulations change from state to state, but the main concept is generally the same. Homeless cats live at the café, usually separated from food/drink preparation.
Not everyone will choose to enter the cat area. You can stay in the café and there’s usually a window or viewing panel to watch the cats in the other room. Or, take your snacks into the cat space and get your snuggle on! Overall, cat cafes are intended to increase adoption rates of homeless cats by increasing their exposure to potential adopters.
According to KXLY, Kitty Cantina will also feature filtered water fountains for the kitties, unique climbing structures and so much more. It will be a kitty play palace!
4) What has the response been so far? Do you think you’ll need a dedicated reservation system like Neko has?
So far it’s abundantly clear that there is a positive response from Spokane. Social media interaction has resulted in a buzz and just about every news outlet has reached out. Every US based cat café that we have researched has a reservation system implemented, and we intend to do this as well. However, walk-ins will be welcomed as long as there is space in the cat room (we’re calling that area the Kitty Lounge).
Some cat cafes have experienced lines 3 blocks long on the opening day. I’m not sure what to anticipate, but I do know the reservation system is a way to guarantee folks entry ahead of time so they can plan their date accordingly.
As of now we only want 10 people in the Kitty Lounge at a time and visits will be in 50 minute increments. Too many visitors would result in over-stimulus and would be counter-productive. For example, if 7 people sign up for a visit ahead of time, that still leaves 3 spots open in the Kitty Lounge for “walk-in” visitors.
We’re actually offering “first dibs” early access to reservations as one of the rewards for the Kickstarter fundraising campaign that we’re launching (November 12th!)
View this post on Instagram
5) Where will Kitty Cantina cats come from?
We have a partnership with SpokAnimal. They will provide us with cats that are spayed/neutered, vaccinated and “ready to roll” for adoption. This will free up shelter space and resources for other cats in need.
6) How many kitties do you anticipate starting with?
For now we expect to have 8 to 12 cats at any given time. Once we get a better idea of the build-out we’ll tweak those numbers accordingly.
7) For those who aren’t familiar, the goal of many cat cafes is to showcase adoptable cats. Is that the case with Kitty Cantina, or will some cats be ‘forever Kitty Cantina’ cats?
You’re precisely right – the main goal is to get more eyes on the adoptable cats. Additionally, their quality of life will allow them to show their true personalities to potential adopters since it’s a cage-free environment. We even have plans to sponsor some of the elderly/disadvantaged cats who have a tough time getting adopted.
We likely won’t keep any permanent cat residents. If someone falls in love and we don’t want to deny that kitty the opportunity to go to a forever home. On the contrary, if a cat isn’t adopted from us in a timely fashion – we don’t care! They can live in luxury with us at Kitty Cantina as long as they like!
View this post on Instagram
8) When will Kitty Cantina open, and where? Where can people learn more about Kitty Cantina to sign up and get more information?
We get this question a lot and wish we had specific answers. Pending some permits and funding, we’ll be starting our lease in North Spokane on January 1st, 2020. We will have about 2 months of construction and preparation before we can open so for now March 2020 is a safe goal.
You can track the Kitty Cantina’s progress on their Facebook page here.
Cat Cafes in Washington State
If you’re taking a trip to the west side of Washington, you can find more cat cafes, like NEKO (where these Instagram photos came from) and Seattle Meowtropolitan. Seattle Meowtropolitan, in particular, offers yoga and cats, and a membership service for people who want special perks in addition to seeing the cats!
Are you planning on visiting Kitty Cantina when it opens next year? What are you looking forward to the most? Let us know on our Facebook page here!