The future of pet adoption has come – in Oakland.
It has arrived in the form of a local café that serves a variety of pastry specialties as well as cappucinos, teas, and lattes. And there in this comfortable and spacious room full of armchairs and carpets are the cats.
There are all types of cats – orange, black, gray, short-haired, long-haired, large and small. What they all have in common is that they are available for adoption.
The Cat Town Cafe is the first permanent cat cafe in the United States. Since the cafe opened in a store on 28th Street and Broadway on October 25, diners have adopted 32 cats in 15 days.
Other cities follow suit. Temporary pop-up cat cafes have appeared in Los Angeles and New York, and efforts are being made to establish permanent businesses in San Francisco, San Diego, and Denver.
Cat Town has grown so popular so quickly that reservations are required to open the door on weekends. Cat Town ran out of cats by Sunday night, said co-founder Ann Dunn.
So you can say that the business model developed by Dunn and Adam Myatt works.
When I was there on Friday there was a line to get to the cats. People in front of the cafe pressed their noses against the windows to take a look at the cats.
The cat lovers Claudia Proa (19) and her friend Carlos Navarro (20), both residents of Oakland, came to see the place for themselves – and were overwhelmed.
“We love cats and we wanted to see if this place actually existed,” Proa said.
A salesman at the Mercedes-Benz dealership across the street told Dunn he was planning to spend his lunch break there.
The Cat Zone is located directly behind the café’s dining area and is divided by panoramic windows and two doors. There are 14 cats at a time. A corresponding number of people will make a $ 10 donation to the nonprofit to spend an hour with the kittens who are no older than 1 year.
The cats jump on buildings – and peek out the windows – that are built to resemble some of the landmarks in downtown Oakland, including Oakland City Hall and the Ron Dellums Federal Building.
All cats have been vaccinated and spayed or neutered, and an adoption fee of $ 50 is often paid through a grant, Dunn said. The cats are already provided with microchips.
The Cat Town Cafe is loosely based on cat cafes in Japan and Taiwan that rarely serve as cat adoption centers.
Dunn, a former volunteer at the Oakland Animal Shelter, conducted a private cat rescue operation for three years before starting the business. During that time, she rescued more than 650 cats, she said.
All of the animals in the café are brought from the city’s animal shelter – and for them it’s a second chance in life.
Dunn and Myatt started the cafe to save more cats, because a trip to the shelter to adopt a pet can be a downright depressing experience.
“There are far more animals than they can find and some people avoid the shelter because it’s depressing,” said Dunn.
It’s hard not feeling guilty about visiting a shelter about the animals left behind – or the fate awaiting those who won’t be adopted.
The Cat Cafe immediately caught the attention of cat lovers in the Bay Area, including some who have traveled a distance to visit the new store, play kibbitz with the kittens, and enjoy the company of like-minded people.
“We’re creating a feline community and it’s exciting to watch it unfold,” said Dunn.
Berkeley residents Bob and Ranko Matsueda visited Cat Town Friday in search of a cat to replace their beloved short-haired tabby Kimee, who was recently hit by a car and killed.
“I like the fact that they save cats that would otherwise be killed,” said Bob Matsueda.
“It’s another great idea a new generation of young people in Oakland have come up with to help reshape the city,” he said.
Oakland-resident Martha Benco called her cat-loving friends from Palo Alto, Albany, and Cupertino and suggested that their weekly get-together, which they call Nuggy Nacho Night, be held at Oakland’s newest cat house instead.
“This is our first excursion,” joked Troy Folkner from Cupertino. “Next time we might need a tour bus.”
The Cat Town Cafe is creative, human, and exciting, and I hope Dunn and Myatt or some other enterprising group can create a similar model to serve our canine companions.
Chip Johnson is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. His column runs on Tuesday and Friday. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @chjohnson