Some people go to therapy, others prefer going to cuddle cats.
Thanks to small apartment sizes, many of which aren’t even allowed to have animals, and the exorbitant price of pets, cat cafes (or animal cafes in general) have been a popular phenomena for the last couple of decades in Asia.
I was no stranger to this concept and certainly frequented my fair share of cat cafes in Japan and Hong Kong.
To create a space where people can freely go and cuddle with pets just makes sense– but apparently not to people in the US. It’s always fun to explain Asia’s cafe culture to those who have no prior knowledge of it.
The look of horror that spreads across their face is always great when I tell them, yes, people actually pay to go eat with cats, they pay to be fed by girls dressed as maids, and they pay to eat poop-shaped food from dishes that look like toilet bowls.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that New York City recently opened doors to their first cat cafe.
Located within walking distance from Chinatown, Meow Parlour opened in 2015 thanks to the vision of Christina Ha, head Pastry Chef at the city’s popular Macaron Parlour.
To visit Meow Parlour, guests are encouraged to make reservations online prior to their arrival. A visit to Meow Parlour starts at $4 for every half hour (and those who manage to nab one of their limited walk-in spots are required to pay only by the hour).
I’ll admit that I was a little surprised when I first walked in.
Despite being called a cat cafe, and unlike their Asian counter-parts, this shop actually lacks a cafe element. Well, okay, there is one. It’s just down the street and around the corner thanks to NYC’s laws prohibiting food from being served in a space that has animals.
Don’t get me wrong, the cafe was still really cute and the cat-shaped macarons were adorable, but if you’re looking for one of those sit-at-your-laptop-working-all-day-while-sipping-iced-lattes-and-petting-cats experiences that’s not what you’ll find here.
Instead, you’re paying strictly to spend time with kitties.
Adorable, adorable kitties.
Unfortunately my appointment time was at 3pm, prime kitty nap time… but that was the only time slot left when I went to book my reservation.
When I arrived most of the kitties were already sound asleep, but some were still awake and curious enough to come out.
A few were a little apprehensive at first, but soon warmed up with a little coaxing and wiggling of shiny objects. Others, simply didn’t care to socialize– which was fine, too.
What makes Meow Parlour standout to me is that all of their cats are adoptable. They’ve partnered with KittyKind, a local no-kill rescue group, to give these cats a second chance at a home.
Rather than sitting in a cage at a shelter all day, these cats are free to roam around the space and play– all while having a safe place in back they can retreat to if they become overwhelmed by visitors.
So if you happen to fall for one of their little friends while you’re there, Meow Parlour will put you in touch with KittyKind to fill out the adoption papers. Meow Parlour does not have any part in the adoption process– that is solely handled by KittyKind.
Even though the experience was nothing really like an Asia cat cafe, knowing that we were giving these kitties a better quality of life by spending time with them made it more worthwhile.
Because, how cute are these little guys?
When to visit: Daily except Wednesdays; 12-8pm
Where to visit: 46 Hester St, New York, NY 10002