There is no middle ground when talking cat cafes. Tell friends you are going to sip tea surrounded by felines, and you will consistently receive one of two responses: Aww, so cute! or Ugh, my worst nightmare.
“To each his own,” laughs Selena Hubbard, who launched Nine Lives Cat Cafe in Indianapolis with her dad, Eric, early last year. “I don’t hold anything against them. They’re free to come in just for coffee. We can still be friends!”
At Nine Lives, visitors hang in a comfy, sunny room with 10 or so cats, getting a quick hit of cuddle therapy along with their caffeine. There’s no pressure to take one home—but if you want to, the cafe’s residents are all available for adoption. Nine Lives has found homes for nearly 200 cats from the Humane Society of Indianapolis.
Try it Out
Because your curiosity could save a cat.
The Cafe Meow, Minneapolis
A mere kitten, this brand-new cafe just opened in February, inspired by the Cat Video Festival (a Twin Cities cult-fave).
The Catcade, Chicago
This indie nonprofit does its own rescues and has found homes for, on average, 1.3 cats per day since opening last year.
Catfe Lounge, Ferndale, Michigan
Opened by the Ferndale Cat Shelter in 2015, this metro Detroit nonprofit was the state’s first permanent cat cafe.
Eat, Purr, Love Cat Cafe, Columbus, Ohio
Visitors (who can score happy hour admission discounts) tackle kitty coloring sheets or nosh on vegan baked goods.
Do and Don't
Do Make a reservation. Most cat lounges tend to fill up on the weekends; at Nine Lives, $5 gets you an hour inside.
Don't Feel compelled to go in the cat room. You can just hang in the cafe at Nine Lives and watch the cat ladies (and gents) have their fun through a window.
Do Hit the hand sanitizer on the way in and out. And maybe pack a lint roller in your bag.
Don't Force interaction. These are cats, after all. They get to call the shots.