Starbucks will make you a million original coffee concoctions, but there’s only place offering cat’achinos and their namesake creature: the Cat Cafe pop up shop in New York City. The store, opened by Purina One, and running through April 27, is promoting the brand’s “28-day challenge.” (Feed your cat Purina One for 28 days, and the brand promises you a friskier, healthier, softer-furred feline).
A coffee shop may not seem like the obvious way to advocate for cat health, but Niky Roberts, a Purina One spokesman, says the cafe is meant to start conversations. “That’s what you do in a cafe,” she says. “You have conversations with like-minded people.” In this case, fellow cat-lovers. She adds that there’s a dearth of places for cat aficionados to congregate. “At dog parks, you can talk to other dog owners. You can see that world happening around you. But there’s nothing like that for cat lovers and owners.”
The cat cafe offers free pastries and drinks (complete with cat-themed foam art) and a large sitting area where you can sip your latte and frolic with the kitties. Purina commissioned artist Linda Griggs to create a cat-friendly play space, with trees and perches designed specifically for active cats. There are 16 in total, all from the North Shore Animal League and all up for adoption. Of course, they’ve been fed a steady Purina One diet–which is another reason to have the physical space. “You can see their bright eyes, and energy, and healthy coats and clean teeth,” says Roberts. “And then you can take that with you.” “That” being a newfound desire to feed your cat Purina.
To further the idea of a cat-oriented community, the cafe is also hosting a speaker series with vets and cat behavioralists. The events are live-streamed and viewers can tweet in questions. And you might be better off watching from home; lines have been around the block and the hours-long wait has prompted some frustrated tweets. As Roberts explains, allowing more than 65 humans into the cafe would freak out the cats. Also, if you’re a cat owner, you might feel guilty leaving Mr. Whiskers behind. “For the safety of the cafe cats, we’re asking that people leave their own cats at home,” Roberts says.