Philly may be in the middle of the dog days of summer, but the cat has officially been let out of the bag at Philly’s newest cat haven, Kawaii Kitty Café. On June 25, Kristin Eissler opened her much anticipated, Japanese-inspired cat café on Fabric Row after raising over $20,000 on Indigogo.com to make her dream a reality. Kawaii, which is partnered with Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society is a cat adoption center combined with a cafe bearing an impressive menu and cat inspired memorabilia created by local artists. The kitty lounge, which is available upon reservation and fee of $10 an hour, gives the opportunity for guests to mingle with friendly felines that are in need of forever homes. Proceeds of the items sold and the entrance fee goes to housing and providing for the strays. Kawaii, which translates to “cute and dear” in Japanese is certainly a suitable name for the pastel painted eatery and adoption center.
After making a reservation a few days in advance I eagerly stepped into, what is best described as cat utopia. I was greeted by a cheerful barista who took my order and walked me to the glass-enclosed, powder pink lounge. High-pitched ooo’s and aww’s could be heard before we even opened the door. The lounge, which was complete with plush foax grass and whimsical cat art, was filled with cheerful visitors taking selfies with any of the seven cats within reach. I was settled next to a tabby that was perched atop a giant pillow modeled after a piece of salmon sashimi when my latte and strawberries and cream sandwich was delivered to me by a friendly staff member. To make my experience even more “puurfect”, the foam art on my late was of a smiling plump kitty.
A few minutes into the hour long session, a staff member stepped into the lounge to give an overview of Kawaii’s mission, introduce us to the spunky named cats, and encourage us to stimulate the cats with the many lasers and feathered toys found in the lounge. With the unbearable cuteness aside, it was important to remember the mission of Kawaii, which is to find homes for these lovable creatures. Kawaii Kitty Cafe really presents a great opportunity to showcase homeless cats in a way that celebrates them rather than confining them to a metal cage. Even as a proud, self-proclaimed “dog person” I struggled to not take one of these fury friends home with me after spending an hour with them.
While Kawaii is the first cat café in Philadelphia to offer a full menu, cat cafés have long been around in Japan and across Europe. America’s first cat café, Cat Town Café, which opened in Oakland, California in 2014 has gained much attention on social media, sparking 40 cat cafes to open across the country. Here in Philadelphia, Kathy Jordan, the founder of Green Street Rescue opened “Le Cat”, a Parisian-styled cat lounge on Girard Ave in Brewerytown earlier this year. Le Cat shares the consistent concept of cat adoption cafes, allowing cats that are up for adoption to roam comfortably in hopes to attract a forever human. While Le Cat does not serve food, they do provide complementary coffee and tea, and also hold educational activities for children such as “Furrytail Storytime.”
It is no secret that Philadelphia, just as most cities, has an overabundance of stray cats. With animal shelters filled to maximum capacity, places like Kawaii Kitty Café and Le Cat help lessen the burden while keeping these animals out of cold metal cages. By providing a unique opportunity for animal-loving Philadelphians, cat cafes bring more awareness to the issue of animals in need and the importance of adopting a pet. Local animal shelters and organizations are always seek donations and volunteers, but if you want to let your inner cat lady out, make time this summer to head over to one of Philly’s cat lounges to support a great cause, you’re sure to have a pawsative experience.