A Visitor's Handbook to Cat Cafes: Mixing Caffeine & Cat Naps

Curious about cat cafes? I visited one to get all the info on why they're so popular and what you can expect.

Published January 8, 2024
loving couple drinks coffee in a cafe and caresses a cat

If you're like me and count cats and coffee as two of your favorite things in the world, you probably need to check out a cat café. These feline-focused shops are any cat lover's dream because the whole point is to relax, pet cats, and enjoy a tasty beverage. What can you expect from a cat café? I visited Catopia Cat Café in Albuquerque, NM to get all the deets.

What Is a Cat Café?

Cat cafés are coffee shops where the main attraction is cats. These cafés feature anywhere from a couple to a dozen cats who roam around the room. They play with toys, lounge on perches, and just enjoy being cats while you get to enjoy watching and interacting with them.

Can You Pet the Cats at a Cat Café?

Absolutely! In fact, that's the whole point. But before you give just any cat a stroke, make sure you read their body language. Some kitties at cat cafés might become stressed out if there are a lot of people, and they don't want to be approached. Brush up on how to pet a cat the "right" way before you head out. 

Do the Cats Live at the Cafe?

There are a few different ways cat cafés operate. Some have resident cats that stay at the café, whereas others have adoptable cats, and some have a mix. Most cafés in the U.S., like Catopia, work closely with local shelters. It's a win-win for everyone because these cats get great socialization and exposure to potential homes while at the café. Then, when someone falls in love with them, they can adopt them and give them a home!

Fast Fact

Cat Flower Garden, the very first cat café, popped up in 1998 in Taipei, but the first cat café in the United States, KitTea Cat Café, didn't open its doors until 2014.

What Cat Cafés Are Great For

Cat cafés are awesome for several reasons. They're a great place to get your kitty fix if you don't own cats or a place where you can interact with adoptable cats if you're looking for a rescue cat. Other things cat cafés are perfect for include:


Why go to a regular café when you can have a first date at a cat café? Watching and petting cats is a fantastic ice breaker, and if "must love cats" is on your list for an ideal partner, this experience can let you know if the relationship is even viable.

Hanging Out With Friends

Get a small group of friends together on a Sunday afternoon to hang out at the cat café. Some will even let you reserve the entire facility for a private event. Can you say dream birthday party??

Relaxing Self-Care

If you're looking to indulge in a little self-care, head to a cat café. According to scientists at Washington State University, petting a cat for just 10 minutes lowers cortisol levels. Hello cats, goodbye stress!

Quick Tip

Not sure if there's a cat café in your town? Use the Cat Cafés Near Me finder to locate one in your area. 

And What They're Not

As a remote employee who loves working at coffee shops, I was curious if it would be possible for me to get any work done at a cat café. The answer is absolutely not!

Most cat cafés make appointments to avoid overwhelming the cats with too many people, so it's not like you can sit there all day. Plus, you'll be distracted by all the cuddly cats and probably won't even open your laptop. A few other no-nos for cat cafés include:

Don't Bring Your Own Cat

Unfortunately, a cat café isn't the place for you to bring your cat for a kitty playdate.

Don't Bring Young Children

Most cafés have a minimum age requirement for the safety of the children and the cats. Catopia's policy includes a minimum age requirement of 8 years old.

Don't Wear Black

I'm totally kidding, but if you get up close and personal with the cats, you'll definitely leave with a parting gift of stray cat hairs.

RELATED: 13 Signs You're a Crazy Cat Person (Welcome to the Club!)

Visit a Cat Café and Decide for Yourself

Not sure if cat cafés are all they're cracked up to be? Visit one and decide for yourself. Every establishment is different, so do your research to find out what their rules are and whether the resident cats are up for adoption. Even if you're not looking for a new cat, you can still enjoy loving up on kitties, then get the word out about the adoptable cats so they can find their forever homes.

A Visitor's Handbook to Cat Cafes: Mixing Caffeine & Cat Naps