Reviewing Blue Cat Café in Austin
If you have the opportunity, paws and take a moment to experience a claw-some coffee joint.
By Natalie Hays, Texas State University
Unless you live under a rock or just really hate coffee, coffee houses are a safe haven in the dangerous world full of stress and non-caffeinated beverages.
Everything, from the smell of freshly ground beans to the folksy/alternative music, make coffee houses the perfect place to zone out or catch up with friends. Even if you don’t like coffee, you’ve got to admit that the treats a coffee house serves are delicious 95 percent of the time (except for you, bran muffin.) At any good coffee shop there is always something for everyone, which is precisely what makes them the supreme urban hot spot.
However, there is a way to make your local coffee oasis even better, and that is to add cats.
Finally, after years of chasing its tail, the United States has adopted one of the most adorable things Taiwan has ever given the world, the cat café.
The first cat café was founded in Taiwan in the nineteen-nineties, but the concept quickly spread to Japan thanks to massive amounts of tourism. To date, Japan has around 150 cat cafés, with a good majority of them in Tokyo. North America didn’t get a cat café until 2014— we were behind on the times.
Since they are a recent phenomenon, a lot of people don’t know what a cat cafés are, but they’re really self-explanatory. Simply put, it’s a coffee house with cats in it.
You can hang out with the cats, play with the cats and think about how cute the cats are—whatever you want, within reason, you can do with the cats. Of course you can’t be mean to the cats, but why would you? They’re cats; they’re purrfect (I’m not sorry for the puns).
To help pay for the upkeep of their feline friends, most cat cafés either charge by the hour or have an entry fee, and drink prices vary from place to place. One thing is certain, though: You can stay as long as you want to hang with cats, and it is the best.
Unfortunately, not everyone lives in a city like New York or Montreal that has cat cafés, and if you’re like me and live in the Lone Star State, the idea of a cat café always seemed like a faraway dream. Here in Texas, you’re 10x more likely to find a dude ranch than an independent coffee shop, let alone a cat-laden one. However that all changed in 2015 when the Blue Cat Café opened in Austin, Texas.
The Blue Cat Café is the first and currently only cat café in Austin, and since they’re groundbreaking in Texas, the BCC website has loads of information on the cats, safety rules and their menu.
The two biggest selling points about the Blue Cat Café are, unsurprisingly, the felines and the fare. Most of the cats are up for adoption through the Humane Society, and those that aren’t are resident cats that live permanently at the café. Cats with blue collars live there, red ones are about to go to a forever home and green is up for adoption. So the second you walk into the café, you know which cats you could potentially take home!
On top of that, all of the food and drink served at the café is vegan. While most people aren’t vegan, it’s cool to see dietary needs met with good food. Drinks are all made with soy or almond milk, and you can’t tell the difference other than that the drink might be a little sweeter. (I recommend the London Fog with almond milk) But if you felt like it, you could walk in, not get a drink and just pay their cover charge to hang out with the cats.
Before you enter the actual café area, there is a small store with cat related items from t-shirts to litter boxes. Here you sign a waiver stating that you’ll follow the rules of the café, mostly composed of rules such as you won’t bother the cats while they are sleeping or pick them up without permission, and then you can go in to have some quality kitty time.
Once inside, you’re surround by somewhere between 15-20 cats at any given time, and most of them are napping on the kitty skywalk or in the various pieces of cat furniture. You can ask the staff about any particular cat, and whether or not they like to be pet or picked up.
Sometimes the cats will just crawl into your lap and go to sleep, while other times they watch you from a perch in the corner.
You can stay as long as you want and pet as many cats as you want, all while sipping on a latte—which is pretty fantastic.
If you have any reservation about a cat café because of hygiene, know that they have to follow guidelines to keep the food and drink prep far away from the cat food and litter boxes.
The cats are also well cared for and kept healthy, so you can feel good knowing that all the cats are comfortable. One of the main takeaways from any cat café is that people spend time with animals, even though those people might not be able to have a pet at home.
So whether you find yourself in Austin, Montreal, Denver or even Tokyo— stopping by a cat café is a unique experience that you don’t get to have elsewhere. It’s the same kind of laid back atmosphere plus the bonus of the company of cats. Cat cafés also provide the best excuse to go out and get a coffee, as if you needed one anyway.
You’re helping a place take care of a bunch of cats that otherwise might not have homes, and those cats are helping you find your mellow with a shot of espresso on the side.