Animals and food. Most of the time we like to keep the two separate. Restaurants and pets just don’t mix. Or do they? In Austin, Texas, animal lovers no longer have to be satisfied with a table on the patio. At least, not cat lovers. Not at Blue Cat Café where customers can get their cat therapy and afternoon tea all in one place.
It’s a café, you see, but with cats. Not in cages, not behind glass, just cats, roaming the interior, doing their cat thing among the human patrons. They speed down the cat highways along the walls, disappear into the adjacent litter room, play on the monstrous kitty wheel and climbing tree, and generally make themselves comfortable wherever they see fit. You know, cat things.
The idea for cat cafes came out of Taiwan and blossomed in Japan, where there are now scores of feline-friendly eateries. They provide a bit of comfort and companionship to those not allowed to keep animals in apartments and homes in highly populated areas where there isn’t much room for pets.
But here in Austin where Blue Cat Café is not only the first of its kind in Texas and the largest in North America, customers are not only encouraged to play and snuggle with the cats, but take them home. See, there’s more to this joint than snuggle therapy and an afternoon of feline entertainment; Blue Cat Café is attempting to find these cats a good home. Nearly all the animals inside are from the Austin Humane Society and nearly all are adoptable (all but the ones with the red collars). So when you’re done with your Alley Cat Street Tacos, you can bring home a doggie bag and a kitty carrier. It’s that simple.
Last year, the café’s first, they adopted out 200 cats to good homes. This year they aim for even more, because all they want is to provide a temporary home for Austin Humane Society cats sans cages before finding them a forever family.
And because they don’t believe in loving one animal and not all animals, the menu is all vegan, too. So no animals are harmed in this café. It’s a full food menu with Italian grilled cheese, ice cream sammies and BLTs. The café has a full coffee shop menu too, with lattes and London Fogs and Americanos. And because we know you’re thinking it, yes, it’s clean. There are air purifiers that run all day inside the café and the litter room is behind a wall so the cats aren’t doing their business next to diners. Food and drinks are prepared in a truck out front and are even delivered with metal food covers so if you feel the need to abandon your meal to play with a particularly adorable kitty, you don’t have to worry about your food getting picked at by mischievous paws.
There is a $3 cover charge to help provide for the cats and maintain their space, but think of it as a really cheap therapy session or afternoon of entertainment. Make the most of it; bring your laptop or a good book and stay for the afternoon. Snuggle with the residents and get some work done or stay for the live music or comedy that takes place regularly. There’s plenty of room to spread out. Just don’t bring your own cat.
You can bring your dog, though, if dining al fresco on the picnic tables out front is your style. For cats and cat lovers, the café offers an extensive collection of human and feline bits and bobs for sale inside.
For travelers, Blue Cat Café offers hours of food and entertainment and maybe a lifelong friend or two. So grab a table and spend some time with a fur baby. The cats look forward to tolerating your existence.
Alisha is a freelance writer and photographer who specializes in food and travel content. She winds her way around the country and the world in search of adventure, beautiful vistas, and delicious vegan food and calls many states, including Massachusetts, Ohio, and Texas, home. She and her husband are the force behind the travel blog Terradrift.com