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North America’s first ‘cat café’ opens in Montreal



King Kong, Big Foot, Sauvageon, Munchkin, Séa, Peace, Snow and Sidibou — a new café in Montreal has some unlikely patrons.

Cat Café Montreal, located at 3435 St. Denis, is the first cat café officially registered in North America. Opening its doors on Saturday, August 30, it will offer coffee connoisseurs and cat enthusiasts a chance to enjoy specialty coffees and pastries while relaxing and playing with the ‘tenants’ of the café.

The cat café concept started in Taiwan in 1998 and soon spread across Asia — Japan houses cat cafés in more than 100 locations. The idea quickly caught on in Europe and there are now cat cafés in London, Paris and Vienna, among many other large urban centres.

“We see a real need for cat cafés in Canadian cities,” says Youssef Labib, the owner of Cat Café Montreal. “In cities such as Montreal, many people live in rentals that don’t allow pets — or they don’t have time to take care of a pet of their own.”

Labib has been working with the SPCA Montreal as well as Royal Canin Canada, a manufacturer and supplier of high quality, specialized pet foods, to make his dream of opening North America’s first cat café a reality. The eight cats who will be taking up residence at the cat café were adopted from the SPCA Montreal — and there will be information seminars given by the staff to promote adoption through the SPCA as well as other locally-based rescue organizations. For its part, Royal Canin Canada’s technical services team worked with the Cat Café Montreal to ensure the cats living in the café enjoy the best in health nutrition.

“We love the concept of cat cafés because they can bring awareness of how people can better connect with, and care for, their cats,” says Tomasz Rojek, Feline Brand Manager at Royal Canin Canada. “It’s our hope the connections and education that come as a result of the cat café will help mitigate the number of cats ending up back in the shelter system.”

The cats adopted by the café were all chosen because their temperament suited living at the café and interacting with other cats as well as the café’s many customers.

While Cat Café Montreal has to abide by the same stringent health and hygiene regulations governing any food establishment, there were several unique concessions that had to be made to ensure that humans and felines alike have the best experience possible.

All food and beverages being served to patrons are kept and prepared in a closed off kitchen that the cats cannot enter. The cats also have their own rest area, away from restaurant patrons, where they are able to eat and sleep, should they not be feeling social. Litter boxes are also in this enclosed area and are concealed behind a curtain.

“We want to create a kingdom for the cats but also maintain an enjoyable and relaxing environment that is comfortable for our customers,” says Labib.

The cat café concept is one that is already catching on in this country. Royal Canin Canada is also working with entrepreneur, Jennifer Morozowich, who is opening Kitty Cat Cafe — Toronto’s first cat café — this winter.

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