Montrealers are invited to take a ‘paws’ at the new cat café
Concordians, you know the routine: find a café, get a good book, grab a coffee, and unwind as a cat nuzzles against your leg… wait, where did the cat come from?
That is the last question being asked at Montreal and North America’s first cat café. Le Café des Chats opened its doors to the public on Labor Day weekend, welcoming cat lovers from high and low to grab a cup of joe and mingle with the resident felines.
Youssef Labib wanted to open a themed café in the city. Following the popularity of cat cafés in Asia and Europe, Labib and business partner Nadine Spencer thought it would be perfect for Montreal.
“A lot of people cannot have cats because of landlords and apartments, and a lot of students are here for short periods,” Spencer said.
Located on St. Denis, Café des Chats is a haven for the cats, and a whole new experience for guests.
“Everybody adores cats; they are just so therapeutic,” Spencer said.
This project is also about giving these cats a second chance. There are currently eight felines living at the café. They were all adopted from the SPCA.
The SPCA helped pick the cats based on their personalities to ensure that they would thrive in a social environment. They were happy to take part in the project.
“New and original ways that find a loving home for animals is always something we are interested in,” said Anita Kapuscinska, Media Relations Coordinator for SPCA Montreal.
The cats were gradually introduced to each other, and the café was their home two months before it opened, so they had plenty of time to mingle.
Running a café comes with its challenges, even more so when you add animals to the mix.
“There are basic rules to keep it as zen as possible,” Spencer said.
Some of these rules include: no flash photography, no handling cats forcefully, no waking cats from their siestas, and no feeding the resident pets.
This is all part of what Spencer calls “kitty prevention.” The café was renovated with the cats in mind. Guests must wait to enter the café through a second entrance to avoid runaways, and doorknobs open upwards. The kitchen is also closed off from the rest of the café for sanitary reasons.
The cats have their own private room that they can access if they need to take a break. This room houses their beds and litter boxes.
The staff have all been trained to take care of the animals, and they even have their own in-house veterinarian.
The space itself has a simple, minimal design, something customer Calvin Heinrichs appreciates.
“I think it’s a really nice kind of open-concept. The cats have room to run around and it’s interactive with them. It’s awesome,” he said.
The furniture is light and easy to move, which makes cleaning simple. The cats have their own scratching posts, and other feline friendly furniture to keep them happy.
“With all the clients coming in and out they are always playing, so they are pretty happy campers,” Spencer said.
The furry residents are completely relaxed in their environment, and they approach guests with ease.
“They have different personalities too so it is fun to interact with them,” said customer Dina Santina.
The menu itself is not too extensive, hosting various types of coffees, a few beverages, and some sweets. While there are plans to add to it, the team wants to keep it simple.
“People mainly come here for the cats — that’s what we wanted — cats and coffee, right?” Spencer explained.
It’s been a little over a week since the café opened its doors, but Spencer and the team are already looking for ways to improve. She says she wants to collaborate with local businesses to promote their products, from food to art.
With a second cat café set to open soon, Spencer believes there is plenty of space for more in the city.
“In the end I think what we need to remember is that we are doing it for the cats. We really want to make it about giving a second chance to the kitties.”
Le Café des Chats is located at 3435 St. Denis. For more information visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/catcafemontreal.