If you Google the words “Cat Café” you will find videos of fanatic furry beasts running around and cuddling close to cafe patrons in parts of the world like Manhattan and Japan. These novelty coffee shops are quickly becoming the cat’s meow, so to speak, as the trend gains traction worldwide. The cafés are like Car2Go for cats, where customers pay to sip their cappuccinos and borrow a hairy companion for the duration. Entrepreneurial cat lady Michelle Furbacher is granting the wishes of all Vancouver’s tabby treasurers with tyrannical landlords by opening her very own Catfé in the lower mainland. BeatRoute visited one of the houses she was cat-sitting at to answer such important questions as “Where are these cats coming from?” and “What does Vancouver Coastal Health have to say?”
When Furbacher’s cat passed away, her landlady notified her that she would no longer be able to keep pets in the building. Facing this news, Furbacher set out to find a way she could spend time with the furry creatures she loved without getting an eviction notice. So she began cat-sitting for friends, a hobby which picked up quickly and resulted in her spending more time in the homes of the cats she looked after than her own. Around this time cat cafés, which have been popular in Japan for the past 15 years, came to her attention. It struck her as peculiar that no one in Vancouver had tried to import the trend.
“I was kind of just waiting around for someone else to do it. But the more I was waiting, the more ideas I kept getting about how I could do it myself, and that’s when it all started.”
The Catfé will be set up in two separate parts: an area where you can get food and coffee, and another where you can cuddle with kittens. The structural separation of these two components is Furbacher’s way of avoiding health and safety regulations, as animals cannot be in an area where food is prepared. Customers will however have the opportunity to bring their confections into the cat area. Furbacher intends for the space to feel like an extension of your living room.
The business will serve as a foster home for cats adopted through the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue, a rescue service that provides foster homes for cats in the lower mainland. Furbacher hopes that her cafe will surpass novelty and serve as an assisting force in providing homes for stray cats.
“There’s a real problem with overpopulation of homeless cats in BC, and I want the cat café to help find some of these cats homes. Catfé will act as a foster home for the cats, but we want to have adoption cycles to help place the cats into permanent homes.”
As well as this, the Catfé offers a chance for feline lovers who live in pet-restricted apartments to reconnect with animals.
“A lot of people aren’t allowed to keep pets in their building, so this will be a place where you can go and get some quality time with cats. I think it’s very therapeutic to socialize with animals, like simply sitting and petting a cat or having it purring in your lap,” Furbacher explains.
The intention is for the Catfé to open this fall, but they’re relying on crowdfunding efforts to help secure a space. If you would like to support Furbacher and her furry companions get this project off the ground you can visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/catfe–2 to make a donation.
By Maya-Roisin Slater