The Cost Of Things: A Visit To The Cat Cafe
by Chanel Dubofsky
Before I left on my trip to the Meow Parlour, my housemate said, “If there are any good cat fights, make sure and record them.” I am the only person left in New York City with a flip phone, but I told her I would be sure to make her a very bad quality video.
Meow Parlour, New York’s first cat cafe, opened in December 2014, when it started taking reservations to sit and visit with its cats, who are all adoptable. The cafe works with KittyKind, a no-kill rescue group that specializes in placing cats, so everyone you meet there — of the feline variety — can be yours.
I spend a lot of time hanging out with cats and getting paid for it, so the idea of paying to hang out with them was not that attractive, or urgent. Friends of mine who live in cat cafe free cities couldn’t believe I hadn’t gone, and then I told them about the month plus long waiting list there was, and they acquiesced.
If you do make a reservation at the Meow Parlour, which a friend of mine did in January — we ended up actually going in the middle of March — you get an email before your visit that contains a waiver to be signed. It basically says you won’t be an asshole to the cats, and that you won’t get mad if they act all aloof/won’t let you pet them/sleep the whole time you’re there/won’t act like something other than cats. While I was there, one girl who was maybe twelve threw a spectacular fit when one of the cats refused to come out of a cat napping pod.
12 year old: “THESE CATS ARE BORING I WANT TO GO HOME!!!”
Grown up: “FINE WE’RE LEAVING PUT YOUR SHOES ON!!”
Around the corner from the Meow Parlour is the Meow Parlour Patissiere, which sells coffee and pastries that, if ingested by the cats, will not kill them. You can get a cat shaped cookie that is basically an Oreo and also a cat-shaped macaron. One of the macarons is called “Party Cat,” which made me so happy I almost cried and that is all you need to know about me.
Our reservation was for 1:30 pm, peak Cat Naptime, so we sat and watched cats sleeping, which is not a bad way to spend an hour. I also stared at the door with a sign on it that said, “For Employees, Cats and Taylor Swift Only,” but did not ask questions. There’s a whole book about the cats who currently live there, complete with lists of what they like — wand toys, sitting in laps, imaginary bugs — and don’t like — dogs, things that aren’t snacks — as well as a book of Meow Parlour alumni, aka cats who have been adopted.
Abraham, an orange tabby, was in the window, but he let us pet him and tell him how smart and attractive he is. More than one person who came in asked, “Is Abraham here?” I’m concerned his fame might have already have gone to his head. Kelly (KELLY), a black and white kitten, sat in a perfect cat loaf and we rubbed her ears. There was also a black cat in a cat bed who was basically receiving people, like the royalty he knows he is.
All I ever want to do is chill in a room full of cats, so if you are similarly minded, the Meow Parlour is an excellent idea. But, and I can’t emphasize this enough, no matter how much money you pay, they’re still cats and therefore fuzzy jerks. Don’t judge the Meow Parlour based on if you felt personally fulfilled by your cat interactions. The same is probably true for the mini pig and owl cafes. Cats spend 25% of their time snacking, 25% sleeping, 25% grooming, 25% plotting how to make humans subservient to them. That is scientific fact. Embrace it.
Oh, and there were no cat fights. Everyone was very well behaved.
Reservation at Meow Parlour: ½ hour is $4.36, there were two of us, so that’s $8.71. We ended up staying for an extra ½ hour, so the total for an hour was $17.42 (You can stay up to five hours.)
1 Large Coffee at Meow Parlour Patissiere: $2.50
1 Kitchen Sink Cookie, which Ronaldo the cat tried to eat and I almost let him, but that cookie is delicious: $2.50
Chanel Dubofsky lives in Brooklyn and is a Fiction MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts, which confuses people. You can read her writing in Cosmopolitan, RH Reality Check, The Frisky, and the Toast. She blogs at Diverge.