The Cat Café


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Let’s face it—if you’re a cat lover, there isn’t much that sounds better than a cozy downtown coffee shop where you can sip locally roasted coffee and tea, all while being surrounded by the most purrfect company … cats! Adoptable cats in need of forever homes. The whole concept of a cat café isn’t necessarily new, but there aren’t very many to speak of around the world. Because these cafés are so hard to come by, I felt compelled to shine some light on San Diego’s most coveted coffee shop, The Cat Café.

The idea for a cat café originated in Taiwan, where most residents are forbidden to have pets of their own in their small living spaces. The cat cafés gave locals a place to sit, sip, and enjoy the feline company. Word of this “cat”-chy concept caught on quick, and soon major cities around the globe were opening their own cat cafés.

With San Diego being as pet-friendly a city as they come, it was no surprise to me that one opened up right in the heart of downtown. Being the cat lover that I am, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see for myself what this place was all about.

The Cat Café in San Diego is located at 472 3rd Avenue, very close to the San Diego Convention Center and the Gaslamp Quarter. When you first walk up to the café, it looks like any ordinary coffee shop; however, as you get closer, you’ll notice all the figurines in the window, the signage on the building, and even the menu, all related to cats! Depending on which day you come, you may experience a little wait. The wait time is due to the café’s main concern—keeping a happy and stress-free environment for its furry residents. To keep things calm, they limit the number of people allowed in at one time. They also limit your time in the cat room to 15 minutes when there’s a wait. I came on a Sunday around 11:00 AM, which tends to be one of the busier times, but I waited just five minutes to get in. While waiting, I learned you can make a reservation online at catcafesd. com before you get there to guarantee you’ll be able to go in as soon as you arrive. I recommend doing this if you are serious about adopting one of the café’s cats and want to be sure you can spend time with the animals.

Admission into the café is technically free, as long as you make a $6.00 coffee shop purchase. After purchasing your café item, you walk through a series of doors (designed to keep the cats inside) into the “playroom.” Appropriately named, it holds multiple cat towers, hanging strings, furry mice, and people eager to play with the cats! While chatting with the owner, I discovered the café typically hosts around 10 adoptable cats at a time. As soon as one is adopted, another cat will be brought in to take its place. The café gets its cats from the longstanding local nonprofit The Rescue House. During my time in the playroom, I saw seven cats. When I asked the owner if they were expecting more, he revealed that the cats have access to other areas where they can escape the crowd, take a nap, or simply enjoy some quiet time. One thing that stood out to me while spending time in the playroom was just how at ease and friendly the cats were. All the patrons present were calm, letting the cats come to them, and enjoying the friendly vibe of the playroom. I know adoption centers and humane societies do a good job of caring for the animals they have; however, the café provides a special something, a warmth that is associated with home. It truly did feel like a loving temporary home for the cats, where they can be nurtured by café patrons while they wait for their forever families. It’s that personal touch that makes me believe the café has accomplished something very special in the animal rescue community. Let’s hope it’s a trend that catches on.

If you haven’t already checked out this San Diego must-see spot, go to, make your reservation, and experience The Cat Café for yourself! Who knows, you may even go home with a new lifelong friend.

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