Unless you are on a social media hiatus, living under a rock without 3G, or just really dislike cats, you’ve probably heard from a little birdie that a pop-up cat café is opening tomorrow, April 24th in New York City on 168 Bowery. Hosted by cat food company Purina One, the pop-up cat café will run until Sunday, April 27th. During this time, cat lovers are invited to sit down and sip coffee with feline companions. And it’s all for a good cause because these adorable kitties, provided by the North Shore Animal League, are up for adoption. Furthermore, animal experts at the café will be giving lectures on cat health and cat-friendly interior design for those seeking to adopt the precious fur balls.
Sounds like an odd café, right? Well, those on the other side of the world may not quite grasp what the ruckus is about because cat cafés are so 2000s there. The world’s first cat café opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998. Since then, the concept has spread all over East Asia and even to parts of Europe, although it was Japan that really popularized it, making the phenomenon known to the world. Some cat cafés have become so elaborate that patrons can dress up the kitties with little cat bonnets!
Lines for the Cat Cafe in NYC
Cat cafés are not the first craze from Asia to hit American shores. Those of us who are’ 90s kids lived through the whole Sanrio fad. However, only recently has the kawaii craze from Asia really embedded itself into the American mainstream. Last September, Eva Air’s Hello Kitty airplane from Taiwan made a red carpet debut on the tarmac of Los Angeles International Airport. Around the same, a Japanese maid café opened in Manhattan’s Chinatown to the delight of many young men in their 20s and 30s.
Even more subtle enterprises like Caffé Bene and Paris Baguette – South Korean coffee chains offering cutesy décor to enjoy “ménage à trois” macaroons in – are gaining a strong foothold in New York City. Asian concepts and kawaii culture are seeping into the U.S. and New Yorkers have been quick to embrace all of it. Mix all that in with the global internet obsession with cats (Grumpy Cat has more than 5 million likes on Facebook. Pusheen the Cat has more than 6 million), and you’ve got a winning combination.
The Purina cat café may only be a pop-up, but it’s worth the buzz it’s been getting from our visit to the Taipei cat café. So cat lovers, peel your eyes away from that funny cat video on your screen and hurry down to 168 Bowery tomorrow through Sunday, 10am to 7:00pm! The fluffy felines will not disappoint.
See more quirky NYC facts and discoveries in our “Daily What?!” series. Submit your own via Twitter with the hashtag #DailyWhat.