UPDATE: It's here! Check out these photos of the Catfe in L.A. Chinatown.
Cat cafés are a thing. They're a thing in Tokyo – and Europe – and Canada. They're about to be a thing in San Francisco and Oakland. And now, God willing, we in Los Angeles will get our very own cat café.
That's the plan from Carlos Wong, a guy who has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to open a business called Catfe. What is a cat café? It's a place where you can go and enjoy the company of cats while also enjoying refreshments. Wong is looking to raise $350,000 to fund this project, which is a pretty damn expensive cat café if you ask us. But hey, can you really put a price on fuzzy wuzzy purry cuteness?
Wong got his Catfe passion from a year in Tokyo. A graphic designer by trade, Wong describes how in Japan, there are cat and dog cafés but also owl, goat and penguin cafés. “It's a place where you can go and have some tea and cakes or maybe dinner food and also play with animals,” Wong says.
Wong says that after returning in January, he wondered if the animal café concept would work in L.A. “Downtown L.A. has a similar vibe to Tokyo. I thought a cat café would work there.”
After talking to the L.A. County Department of Public Health, who advised him that his plan would be possible if the cats were in a different building than the food preparation, he decided to move forward. He's focusing his search for locations on Little Tokyo, but because his requirements are so specific he may also look in Santa Monica. As far as the two-building configuration, that will depend on the real estate, but Wong said he's considering a plexi-glass wall between the two areas. You would be able to buy your food on one side, and then bring it into the kitty part of the operation yourself.
Where will the kitties come from? The plan is to work with local shelters, to vet the cats for personability and friendliness with other cats as well as people, and then to allow customers who bond with a particular cat to be eligible to adopt that cat.
Wong says part of why his Kickstarter goal is so high is that he needs to have a cushion. “If it's just a café and you're not making enough money you can just jury-rig something to try to make it work. But these are live animals. I don't want to be in that position.” Still, Wong hopes to be financially self-sufficient within the first year.
Once he meets his fundraising goals, Wong hopes to be open within six months or so. You can watch his Kickstarter video below.