By fall, Toronto will be home to not one, but two eateries full of feline friends.
It may be the cutest, cuddliest race of all time. Pet Me Meow and Kitty Cat Café, two coffee shops slated to open up at the end of the summer, are competing for the title of Toronto’s first-ever “cat café.”
A cat café is exactly what it sounds like: a place where you can enjoy some kitty cuddles along with a cup of Joe. The concept originated in Asia, and now it’s catching on in Canada—there are cat cafés set to launch in Vancouver and Montreal as well.
Unsurprisingly, opening and operating such an establishment will involve health and safety considerations other eateries don’t face: both cafés, for example, will have to serve food and beverages in a room completely separate from the one that features the actual cats. “The two will never intertwine,” says Kitty Cat Café co-owner Jennifer Morozowich. Food will, though, be permitted in cat-friendly areas after it’s been served to customers.
And if you can’t face leaving your new friend behind when it’s time to go—well, that’s just fine: at both establishments, the cats will be available for adoption. “We’ll have cats that need extra help getting adopted, that aren’t as aesthetically pleasing,” says Morozowich, who’ll be teaming up with TEAM Cat Rescue. Her rivals, Pet Me Meow owners Jeff Ro and Ashkan Rahimi, will be partnering with Toronto Cat Rescue.
But Morozowich—who’s volunteered at the Toronto Humane Society and Annex Cat Rescue and currently feeds a colony of feral cats—claims her philosophy is different from that of the owners of Pet Me Meow: “They are very much about opening this as a business and following the trend. With my background, it’s really about the love for the animals.”
Ro admits they’re approaching this as a business, but explains that’s only because “there has to be a business model in place to keep the café open.” He insists what’s drawn them to this enterprise is their love of cats: “This is to end cat euthanasia and to stop cat homelessness,” he says. “We love our cats, and this is important in our hearts.”
Both Toronto companies launched crowdsourcing pages on April 29. Kitty Cat Café owners Jennifer Morozowich and Jeff Jarvis are aiming to raise $60,000; Pet Me Meow is hoping for $70,000. Kitty Cat is aiming for Toronto’s “central west end” and Pet Me Meow for Toronto’s “downtown west end.” We suggest the city’s east, south, and north ends might also benefit from some cat-hosting eateries, because as Morozowich says, when it comes to Toronto cat cafés, “the more the merrier.”