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The Rise of Cat Cafes: How Have They Become So Popular?

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

a very cute cat cafe

What sounds better than sipping a hot tea or coffee while being in the company of a band of felines? If that doesn’t sound like heaven to a cat lover, we don’t know what does! Cat cafés have risen in popularity, and to us, it’s really no wonder. Humans who love these creatures really appreciate the personalities and quirks of kitty companions in public settings. Plus, cats often enjoy a relaxing environment where they can socialize and do their own thing. Here’s how it works.

Cat Cafes: The Basics

The first cat café opened in Taiwan in 1998. It became an immediate success, luring in locals and tourists alike. Since its humble beginning, new cat cafes have popped up everywhere, and the numbers keep growing. There are cafés in North America, Europe, and Asia.

The structure and function of the café might differ depending on your location, but they primarily operate the same. Generally, cat cafés are either all for show or offer adoptive services for their felines.

Many cafés work with shelters and rescues. They will take highly adoptable cats and put them in a café setting. People can then casually interact with a cat without stress or pressure, helping each customer get to know the cat personally.

Some cat cafés have strictly purebred cats. They might use a beautiful Persian, Himalayan, or another sought-after breed to fill the café. These specialized cafés let you enjoy the breed to admire their uniqueness. After all, a purebred cat is not something you see every day.

Benefits of Cat Cafes

scottish cat in a cat cafe
Image Credit: Phatthanun R, Shutterstock

There are quite a few benefits of having cat cafés. Most people love the luxury of being able to sip on a hot coffee or tea while petting beautiful and vibrant kitties. It can be a really great way to start the morning or end the day.

It Helps Folks Who Can’t Own Cats

For specific reasons, some people can’t have pets at home. Cat cafés provide a way to interact with these animals without taking care of them. If you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow cats but you need your daily dose of feline affection, these cafés can be a perfect solution.

Creates Adoption Prospects

For cafés that partner with rescues and shelters, the facilities create traction for potential adoptees. Once you enter the relaxed environment and interact with the cats, you can get a perfect feel of their personality.

If you fall in love with a kitty, you then have the option to take them home. This practice can enhance the adoption success and reduce the homeless population by placing cats and loving homes with a proper personality match.

Creates Repeat Business

Having a cat café gives customers a reason to come back. People often form bonds with the felines and look forward to seeing them week after week. Cat lovers can tell their friends about the facility and draw in more business.

Fosters Community

Cat cafés partner with shelter and rescue programs and many other nonprofit organizations or breeders specializing in cats. This connection creates a community where cats have the upper hand.

Creates a Relaxing Environment

Persian cat in a cafe
Image Credit: RebaSpike, Pixabay

There’s nothing cozier than snuggling up with a kitty. Cats have been known to reduce our stress, which is why they have a reputation as fantastic support animals. Going into a cat cafe can be comparable to going to a spa. These cafes can entertain, relax, and reduce stress in your system.

Downfalls of Cat Cafes

Cat cafés also have certain aspects that don’t seem to rub people the right way. And while we’re all about interacting with cats in a public setting, we have to agree that there are valid points.

Lack of a Stable Home

Some argue that having cats in an environment with revolving people in a confined space is not so great for them. The facilities keep their cats contained in one area, and the cats cannot enjoy attention from a single owner.

Also, cat cafés are not open all night. They have a closing time when all employees and customers go home for the day. The cats are left alone to roam freely or spend the night in cages until the facility reopens. Some worry that this can confuse or impact a cat’s mental state negatively. After all, they need to get that deep bond many cats share with their owners.

To combat those concerns, some shop owners might take some cats home in the evenings. However, this doesn’t provide a consistent routine.

Improper Interactions with Customers

Also, only some customers will be as respectful of the cat’s personal space as others. For example, an excited small child might not yet understand how to be gentle. Or maybe someone swats the cat away for getting too close to their food or drink.

Negative interactions with customers can cause the felines to develop fear, aggression, or nervousness around people. Stringent handling guidelines might need to be implemented to protect felines appropriately at all cafés.

Sanitary Worries

asian woman playing with cats in a cat cafe
Image Credit: Boyloso, Shutterstock

Because the café is a place for prepared food and drinks, there can also be some concerns about the environment being sanitary enough.

Many cat cafés in the United States have a separation between the café portion and the cat room. This way, you can grab your coffee or a drink of choice, walk through the doors and spend time with the cats as you wish.

Cats are not permitted back in the kitchens where the food and beverages are prepared, but every place is different, and regulations vary based on laws in the area. Some places in Europe and Asia allow their cats to roam freely.

Unpleasant Smells

Some cat cafés are very clean and well-maintained. However, some are poorly kept and might be a little stinky. The way the facility is maintained says a lot about the overall health and happiness of the cats. If they’re not living in a sanitary environment, they might not be being cared for either. Plus, mixing the smells of your breakfast coffee with cat poop is probably not something you want to experience.

Cat Cafes Are Expected to Grow

There are several locations for cat cafés across the globe. These numbers seem to be increasing, as customers really like the atmosphere. As cafés modify their operations to address growing concerns, many of the kinks will work themselves out. Many business owners emphasize adoption, making these cafes beneficial for our feline friends.


After exploring the benefits and downfalls of cat cafes, how do you feel? We think they show promise and can be highly beneficial in certain circumstances. But the most critical aspect of a cat cafe is animal welfare. Whether you want to visit a cat cafe or open your own business, it’s best to consider the pros and cons before deciding. It’s best only to frequent sanitary cafés that care for their animals to avoid supporting potential neglect or abusive operations.

Featured Image Credit: Phatthanun R, Shutterstock

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