Café Venosa: A Vegan Cat Cafe in Montreal

With Café Venosa opening as the third cat cafe in Montreal, guest writer Véronique is not so far off when she proclaims, “We shall rename the city Meowtréal!” I hope you enjoy today’s fun guest post with a sneak peek into a very unique cat cafe!

source: Yelp.ca

 

Today’s post is written Véronique, a resident of  Montréal and a freelance writer. Her cat, Monsieur Minoune (photo below), likes to think he’s her boss. He is quite handsome. He showed up at her doorstep four years ago after being abandoned. She fed him and took care of him and couldn’t help falling in love with him – how could anyone resist?! You can follow Mister Minoune’s musings on his Facebook Page

mister minoune

Veronique’s interview with Summer, the proprietor of Café Venosa, along with photos also taken by her unless noted otherwise. 

How did you become the owner of a cat café?

The idea came because I was working at the SPCA. I’d been working with rescues and shelters for about 15 years and also doing my own personal rescues. When I worked at the SPCA, I saw there was a desperate need to find [alternative] ways of doing adoptions. The [overpopulation] of cats was just so tremendous there needed to be a different way to do it.

entrance and summer

Cafe entrance, and Summer with senior adoptable kitty Foyle (11 years of age)


 What makes your café different from the other two cat cafés in Montréal?

I combined this idea [of helping cats] with the idea of protecting all animals. That’s why we are vegan. We also thought it would be pretty ridiculous if our café wasn’t sustainable and if we were ignoring the environment. We are trying to be sustainable as much as possible, making sure that we are not putting [cleaners] back into the water, that sort of thing. We’re also going to start cleaning things with a steamer.

Cafe Venosa, Vegan Cat Cafe in Montreal

The cats here are from the SPCA. Is it because you have worked with them? Did you consider getting cats from other shelters?

The SPCA always gets the largest amount of animals (14,000 animals/year) so I wanted to work with them specifically. Also because I know them well and feel comfortable working with them. As much as I would like to do it with other rescues or shelters, I’m going to concentrate on the SPCA for now because this way, every time I can get a cat from them, they’ve got space for another cat.

The cats have their own room at the back. What happens at night? Do they stay there?

Yes. They stay in the backroom and we close the door at night while everything is sanitized and sterilized because people eat here as well. But the cats also prefer to have their own sleeping quarters. When they first come in, they adapt to this room for a week or two and they know this is their sanctuary. If they get scared, they know they can get back there and stay away from all the action and the noise. They are alone for about 8 hours a night, but I can watch them on my camera. Basically, they are just sleeping. They get tired after socializing and playing all day.

Café Venosa Vegan Cat Cafe

source: baronmag.com

source: baronmag.com

When you choose the cats for the cafe, what are your criteria?

As much as I’d like to work with feral cats, I do have to take their behaviour into consideration. We have to take social cats, that don’t mind being. They have to be ok with other cats, obviously. We try to get the very social cats that may not get adopted, like the black ones or the older ones – we’ve got an eleven year-old here. We’re trying to get the older cats, the ones that aren’t so cute but that have great personalities. There’s no age limit. We don’t take kittens because they usually get adopted very easily. I’m trying to work with the older guys.

Tell us about your cafe experience.

You can come here with your laptop, have a bite or a coffee and stay as long as you like. The only difference is the cats, and the possibility to adopt one of them. As you can see, we don’t only have pictures of cats on the walls. I also want the café to have an artsy feel.

Cat cafe rules - in French! Better download a translator app before visiting!

Cat cafe rules – in French! Better download a translator app before visiting!

What happens if a cat doesn’t get adopted? Would you consider having permanent residents?

If for some reason nobody ever showed interest in a cat, they could stay here as long as they wanted. But I still think all cats would like to have their own home, so I would try to find them a home outside of the café. I’ve got a pretty good network of people and I could find a home for a cat if nobody came forward within a few months or so. I think cats are a bit like people. They like to go back to their own bed at night and having their own favourite person. I consider the café as a foster family.

Cat cafe in montreal

Cafe Verosa

The café was named after your cat. Is your cat here?

No. I adopted her at the SPCA about 15 years ago, when she was one. She’s about 16 now and she’s my soulmate. She probably wouldn’t like this idea of being around a lot of people all the time. (laughs)

How many cats would you have here at the same time?

I would have no more than 8. I think 8 cats in the same room is enough. They each have their own litter box. When there are too many cats, they start to have eye infection, things like that. We want to avoid that. We have a wonderful vet that will come here within 24 hours if we have a problem with one of the cats.

bathroom graffiti at Cafe Venosa

Graffiti in the rest room of the cafe

Was it difficult to get a permit from the city for a cat café?

It was difficult because the information was not available so we really had to search for it. But to have cats here, you don’t need a permit. There are a lot of rules: you need to have Purell stations, you need to have a room in the back for the cats and one litter box per cat. And for the kitchen, everything needs to be totally separate and cat free. There are rules and they bring an inspector to look at it, but you don’t actually need a permit. I think it’s just changing the last couple of years, because they realized it’s getting popular. (laughs)

Mister Minoune

‘’So you went to a cat café, Owner. You’re cheating on me. I shall ignore you… until dinner time.’’

If you live in Montreal tell us about your cat cafe experiences. If not, would you pick a vegan cafe over a non-vegan cafe? Why or why not!

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  • This sounds like an awesome cat cafe! And my human loves Montreal… in fact, she was able to read a lot of the signs without having to resort to a translator… just don’t ask her to actually SPEAK French, MOL!

    • Wow impressive! I love Montreal as well but haven’t been in AGES – would love to go sometime soon!

  • what a wonderful idea!! love that more and more of these are popping up

    • Agree – I’d love to go see them all!

  • naturegirly

    Thanks for sharing the info and keeping us up to speed!
    So happy there’s ANOTHER place to add to my retirement bucket list! And yes, I would probably visit the vegan cafe first. BUT would still support the other two! No problem with decisions yet. There are three cafes and three meals a day! 😉

  • jmuhj

    Monsieur Minoune is adorable, and Cafe Venosa would definitely be a favorite spot if I ever got to Montreal! Loving the fact that black cats and “mature” cats are cafe residents. I have a special affection for both!

    • I totally agree! I’d love to go myself as well!

  • Great post! I would love to visit:-) Here in Switzerland I have visited a couple restaurants in the mountains that allow their outdoor cats to come into the restaurant as they wish. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to a cat café 🙂

    • Awww that’s cool – those kitties must eat well – everyone thinks they haven’t been fed so they all feed them! haha! I’ve been to Geneva and near the Matterhorn (sp) it’s a beautiful country!

      • excellent 🙂 I work in Geneva. Let me know if you ever visit again 🙂

  • I’m in northern Vermont…not that far from the Canadian border. I *definitely* need to plan a day trip to check out it’s cat cafes!

    • ohhh you should you should then report back!

  • Alissa Newton

    I wish all the cat cafes sold t-shirts on their websites to help fund their work. I would buy one from every cat cafe I could find…have a nice little (or not so little) collection of cat cafe t-shirts.

    • I agree I think many are short staffed or trying to keep costs down so don’t want to deal with fulfilling orders? How fun – great idea for a collection – you’ll have to post some on our FB page http://www.facebook.com/ihavecat come like us if you don’t already!

    • naturegirly

      Great idea!