A Peek Inside North America’s 1st Cat Cafe – In Montreal!

I’m ecstatic to report that I HAVE CAT fan and Montreal resident Evelynne Weakley agreed to share her experience visiting “Le Café des Chats” (literally “the cafe of cats”!), North America’s very first cat cafe, on the day of its Grand Opening! 

Cafe Des Chats in MontrealAs with most businesses, this cafe has not been without controversy (or shall I say, cattiness!).  The Montral Gazette reported earlier this month that a competing cafe yet to open by the name of  Café Chat l’Heureux” (a play on a French term for warm or inviting) accused  “Le Café des Chat’s” owners of copying their idea (here come the claws!). It turns out, however, that the owners of “Café des Chats” did in fact register their business first. Hopefully there are enough cat lovers in Montreal to keep both establishments flush with cash (or would that be catnip?). 

While I am quite aware it is Labor Day in America, I urge you to take a moment and experience North America’s first cat cafe through the eyes of a cat lover like yourself. Take it away Evelynne! 

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evelynne Weakley, Canadian Reader

My name is Evelynne and I’m a Scottish born Canadian who has lived in Montreal for nine years.  For eight of those years I’ve shared my life with my cat, Isis.  She’s a sweetheart but not as openly friendly as the cats from the Cat Cafe.  I work in technical support and I read A LOT [Tamar here – she’s not kidding, just check out her website! Canadian Reader!]!

 
Line to get into the Montreal Cat Cafe

The line to get into “Le Cafe Des Chats” on opening day – one cat fan takes a rest on some conveniently located steps!

 

Today, August 29th 2014, marked the opening of North America’s first cat café in my hometown of Montreal, Quebec. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a cat café is a coffee shop with free roaming cats. Being a lover of all things feline, I had to check it out.

Clearly there are a lot of cat lovers in Montreal; the queue was around the block.

I waited for about 40 minutes to be allowed in. The lady manning the door was very apologetic for the long wait, but they were only letting people in a few at a time to avoid overwhelming the kitties on their first day on the job.

It’s clear that “Le Chat Est Roi” or “The Cat is King” here at the Montreal Cat Café. The wellbeing of the cats is of paramount importance, which was great to see.

Montreal Cat Cafe

“Le Chat Est Ro.i” means “The Cat is King” in French. The motto of the cafe.

 

The back of the café is a cats only area, accessible to cat through hatches and humans through locked doors. The cats can go there at any time if they want to be left alone for a bit. Fresh drinking water for the cats was also in evidence.

At least one of the cats was content to greet all these new people from the hatches, knowing he had safety behind him.

The café has a few simple rules:

  • Don’t feed the cats.
  • No loud noises,
  • No flash photography
  • Don’t pick up the cats.
  • No children under the age of 12 allowed.

Again, this is all to ensure the wellbeing of the cats.

Snow watching all the action outside.

Snow watching all the action outside.

 

Inside the café were many cat trees and shelves for climbing. One of the cats – clearly not a shy one – had booked the prime spot on the cat tree right by the window from which he could watch the goings on on rue St Denis as well as pose for all the photographs that were being taken!

I spotted several cat toys for guests to use with the cats, as well as a couple of armchairs for snuggling (should both parties agree to it of course!).

(left to right) Peace, Munchkin and Séa

from left to right:  Peace, Munchkin and Séa (photo courtesy of nudabite.com)

 

There are eight cats at the cat café ranging in age from four months (a cute grey fur ball named Peace) to five and a half years (King Kong). They were selected for adoption from the SPCA who worked with the café to select animals who were very social and outgoing. The eight cats are not available for adoption, but will act as ambassadors for the SPCA.

I believe I saw most of the cats out-and-about and they all seemed relaxed. King Kong has clearly decided he is the head greeter. He’d taken up a position at the cash register where he could say hello to guests as they arrive and goodbye as they leave.

The fact that the treat jar is also located there might have influence his decision!

King Kong making himself quite at home. (photo courtesy of Graham Hughes, the Canadian Press)

King Kong making himself quite at home. (photo courtesy of Graham Hughes, the Canadian Press)

 

When I arrived, Snow was people watching from the hatch to the safe area, but when I left he was out and about greeting people.  Munchkin already felt relaxed enough to snooze on a guest’s lap.

As this was opening day, the café wasn’t serving its full menu, just samples of – VERY tasty iced coffee and brioche pastries, so I can’t comment on the quality of all the food at this time.

left to right clockwise: Peace, Sea, Bigfoot (from cafe FB page)

left to right clockwise: Peace, Sea, Bigfoot (from cafe FB page)

 

Given it was their first day on the job, I was very impressed how relaxed the cats were. As there were many guests about, I didn’t get to interact with the cats as much as I would have liked, but I will most definitely be going back.

I’m certain the café will be a big hit for Montrealers and visitors alike, and I wish “Le Café des Chats” of Montreal, North America’s first cat cafe every success!

Le Cafe Des Chats

Nadine Spencer, cafe co-owner snuggling with one of the cats, perhaps providing some positive reinforcement for a job well done!  (photo courtesy of Graham Hughes, the Canadian Press)

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ThanksEvelynne, I feel I was one of the first people in the country to see the cafe! 

Road trip anyone?

I’m curious what the IHC readers think about the  fact that the cats at this cafe are not available for adoption. Is it a good idea to let the group bond and then keep them together? Or would you rather see the cafe used as a place where members of the community can get to know cats for potential adoption?

You may remember that in Italy’s first cat cafe the original intention was to have the cats be adoptable, but after they opened the staff fell in love with them and management decided the cats had finally found there forever home – at the cafe.

 

 

 

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  • That’s awesome. We already loved Montreal … this is just another reason for us to visit again. 🙂

  • Loved it!! Thank you, this was a very nice article 🙂

  • I’m in northern Vermont and absolutely must take a day trip there someday!!!

  • My human wants to go visit Montreal again now!

  • What a cool place! We hope more open…maybe one close to us??

  • I am so bummed this was not open when I was in Montreal!!!

  • that is furry acitin’ place. we wunners if we could get green cards an’ go werk there!

  • jmuhj

    A wondrous read, and the photos are magical. Especially love that polydactyl guy <3

  • Oh, this is incredible!

  • Fab! I wonder what happened to the other cafe? As a born and raised Montrealer, I’m happy and wish I had time for a road trip! Every cat cafe is run differently and I don’t think there’s a right way or better way. It depends on many factors.

  • Pawsome ! We especially love the rules that think first of the well-being of the cats. Purrs

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  • Looks like the purrfect place to get some kitty therapy.

  • Hey, everyone. I’m the general manager of The Cat Cafe in San Diego and I wanted to comment on the part about adopting the cats. That is one of the key parts of what I want to do. I look at The Cat Cafe as an adoption annex for the animal rescue group I am partnering with.

    The more cats I take in and adopt out the more room they will have in their facilities. That will mean more cats can be saved.

  • Cat cafés are fantastic, regardless whether they put the cats up for adoption or not. But those that do definitely gain extra points in my opinion.

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