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The Cat Café: A Purrfect Paris Place to Pause

by Meredith Mullins on November 14, 2013

Boy in blue shirt patting cat: Living a Happier Life at the Cat Cafe in Paris (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The Cat Café: A place to have a pet of your own for an afternoon (Meet Marguerite)

Living a Happier Life . . . with Furry Friends

 

If you build it, they will come.

If the “they” are cat lovers—and the “it” is a cozy place to hang out with 12 lovable cats—the truth is they will come . . . in droves.

Meet Le Café des Chats in Paris, the new hottest ticket in town. Yes, Paris is known for trendy gourmet destinations. But, here, in this furs-rate stone-walled restaurant, it’s not so much about the food. (Although the organic salads and homemade quiches and desserts are great.)

Here, it’s about the ambiance—Djenko, Khaleessi, Pattenrond, Rosa, Berlioz, Saha, Lovely, Pepite, Idylle, Oreo, Habby, and Marguerite—and the ability of visitors to feel at home in the company of these friendly felines (and vice versa).

Two cats sleeping on chairs, living a happier life at The Cat Café in Paris (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Pattenrond and Pepite nap before lunch.

“Cats are Just Little People with Fur Coats”

Scientific and psychological research has shown that pets help reduce stress. However, not everyone can handle the responsibilities of pet ownership, especially in cities where space is at a premium in tiny apartment living quarters.

Children playing with white cat, living a happier life at the Cat Café in Paris (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Kaleessi gets lots of colorful young attention.

Margaux Gandelon, the owner of Le Café des Chats, had this in mind as her dream of a café took hold. She envisioned a place where people could come and relax with a range of cat personalities—where stroking your favorite cat or engaging in cat play or just having a lap cat for a few hours could add to your day.

There are sofas, books, nooks, and wifi. The cats have complete freedom to sleep, wander, or do whatever else they please.

A cat housing unit, living a happier life in the Paris Cat Café (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The Cat Café condos, with two late sleepers

In fact, their varied high-rise condos and fluffy beds are quite inviting. And the cave-like interior of the café basement gives them (and us) the feeling of being in a mysterious maze à la an Inspector Clouseau film.

Hello Kitty

The idea of cat cafés comes from Asia, where the first one of its kind opened in Taipei in 1998. The theme worked well for animal lovers who needed a little pet interaction and for people who needed a method for de-stressing.

Girl in purple holding cat, living a happier life at the Paris Cat Café (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The calming quality of a furry friend

The concept moved quickly to Japan, where there are now more than 150 cat cafés (not to mention goat, rabbit, and reptile venues).

In some cases, the word “café” is not quite accurate, as there is no food (or only vending machines). The focus is on the opportunity to pay for an hour or two of cuddling or for the pleasure of just observing the life of our animal friends.

Exterior of The Cat Café in Paris, a way to live a happier life (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Le Café des Chats, the Paris dream of Margaux Gandelon

The Passion of Animal Lovers

The age-old question of world preference—cats or dogs?— may never be answered. However, if the crowdfunding campaign for the Cat Café on Indiegogo (a funding site like Kickstarter) is any indication, cat lovers are passionate in their support.

The Cat Café funding drive began in April 2013 and reached the target goal of 40,000 euros in 45 days, enough to make the Café des Chats a reality. The café opened in September and has been booked solidly ever since.

Cat looks at lunch, living a happier life at the Cat Café in Paris (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Does everyone play by the rules (even Pattenrond)?

Rules are Rules

The cats are free to do whatever they want 24/365. (Of course, this is always true in a cat’s life, as any cat owner knows.)

There are no cages. There are places to explore and places to go when they want independence or calm.

Cat looks up at books, living a happier life at the Cat Café in Paris (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Marguerite is free to wander.

The humans, on the other hand, have rules. A list is posted on the front door and is repeated by the hostess when people enter.

  • Don’t feed the cats. (As Margaux says, if everyone offered just a little bite of something, that would mean 50 extra bites a day.)
  • Don’t bring your own cat. That’s primarily because cats are attached to their own territory. They don’t particularly like to travel to other cats’ domains.
  • Sanitize your hands before you enter (gel is provided).
  • Don’t wake a peacefully sleeping cat.
  • Wait for the cats to come to you.
  • Don’t use flash for photos.
  • Children under six years of age cannot touch the cats by themselves.
  • Remember, we’re in THEIR house.

And, as for dogs, there is just a one-word rule. NO. Sadly, they are not allowed.

Black cat on table, living a happier life in the Paris Cat Café (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Idylle, feeling right at home

Oh, I See

Just about everything in the Café des Chats is about living a happier life—for cats and for humans.

The cats are selected from animal protection centers. Each is chosen, not for its color or cuteness, but rather for its ability to be happy with café life. The cats have to like humans . . . and other cats.

Cat in a perch bed, living a happier life at the Cat Café in Paris (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Life on a pedestal for Habby

The 12 cats are given medical care and periodic exams to ensure their health and happiness.

For the humans, the OIC Moments are there for the taking. It is rewarding to see that people have put away their mobile phones and are actually observing what’s around them.

Everyone smiles when a cat does something so charmingly catlike. Children giggle as they dangle a felt mouse from the toy box for the cats to paw at (or pause at if we’re continuing the cat puns).

Girl plays with cat in a corner, living a happier life at the Cat Café in Paris (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Tempting Idylle to play

Some visitors are just happy to have a cat jump in their lap and purr, a vibration that is said to hold healing power.

Cat lovers of all ages are in cat paradise—living a happier life.

Purrfection.

white cat in basket, living a happier life at the Paris Cat Café (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Kaleessi cat naps after an afternoon of frolic

The Café des Chats is located at 16 rue Michel Le Compte in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. It’s open every day from 12h until 22h.

Thank you to Jennifer Vine for introducing me to my first cat café experience.

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.

 
Comments:

13 thoughts on “The Cat Café: A Purrfect Paris Place to Pause

  1. Curiosity brought me here… rocked up, wonderful welcome, choice of seats – all good. Sadly on this visit the cats were few and far between but the coffee and cheesecake were good. I would welcome others to experience the cafe as an alternative sight and why not later sample a falafel sandwich in the Marais. Enjoy Paris.

  2. Pingback: The Café des Chats in Paris. | Chez Henriette

  3. A friend of mine just founded an association dedicated to saving cats. I helped her fund it but now we need help as we have over thirty cats to take care of and have adopted. They are all spayed and cared for by a wonderful vet who gives us a great price break. We are in the Charente Maritime and in the little town I live in I was wondering if it would be a good idea to open a cat cum piano bar but don’t really know how to go about it. I have worked in the restaurant business and own six rescue cats of my own. Any suggestions? All ideas welcome.
    Sylvie

  4. I love this!
    Last month I was having a weekend away in Torquay, Devon and we visited Totnes. Whilst there we discovered a small cat cafe, the first in the country.
    It is run by a couple who have actively been involved in rescuing and charity work for cats for a lot of their life.
    With six cats, there was a comfortable cafe which was filled with cat friendly toys and beds.
    If you are in the area please go along.

    http://www.totnescatscafe.org.uk/

  5. I’m a French in Paris who thanks you to made me discover a nice coffee! Incredible thing but always nice to share with foreigns people, sadly they’re a bit more open-minded than the Parisians… We run, run, run ; without any look on the beauty of our city… ^^

    I haven’t read a lot of your blog for instant, can I asked, where are you from? :)

    • Hi Sashura,
      I know The Cat Café has the cats’ health and safety as a priority, but I will pass this question on to them and let them respond in more detail.

      Thank you for the question,

      Meredith

  6. In April I will be visiting Paris for the 7th time and looking forward to visiting your Cat Café. I will be making reservations soon so I will beable to enjoy your lovely cats. I have 3 of my own who are all rescues.
    I will be in Paris for only 5 days. Is it possible to make more than one reservation or should I only make one so as to allow others to enjoy your cats?
    Always, Karen

  7. Best article I’ve seen about the Café with all those photos that show how relaxed the cats are despite being in a public place. I’ve been trying to get a reservation for some time, but it’s great that the number of people is limited. Now I can reblog your article in advance of going there myself :).

    • Thank you, Henrietta. It’s true the cats are really happy here. Although on Wednesdays when the kids are out of school, the cats get lots of attention. Maybe they look forward to that! Hard to tell.

      It’s a little quieter at the café, now, since winter has set in, so I’m sure you’ll get in. It’s worth it.

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