From Everett Herald
Scratch behind soft furry ears. Gaze into unflinching yellow eyes. Play with feathery toys. Fall in love.
Seattle Meowtropolitan is the purrfect entertainment.
For $10, enjoy a cup of “Catpuccino” or “Meowca” and 50 minutes of frisky time in a lounge with 15 to 20 cats.
Big cats. Little cats. Gray cats. White cats.
Don’t worry about your sweater. There are lint rollers by the door.
The cat cafe in Wallingford is the first of its kind in Western Washington.
It is not a BYO-cat cafe. The cats are provided.
And, no, you can’t just walk out with one. The cafe hosts cats from Regional Animal Services of King County that are available for adoption only on certain days.
There are two rooms: the public cafe and the cat lounge.
The cafe has drinks topped with cat latte art and pastries decorated with whiskered faces and triangular ears. Some baristas wear cat ears to match.
You can get your feline fix up close and personal or from behind the glass.
“People can come in for coffee anytime and also look through the windows at the cats,” said co-owner Matt Lai, 26, who is allergic to cats.
He and two catless friends, Andrew Hsieh and Louisa Liu opened Meowtropolitan in December after months of remodeling what was a former gym. Now it’s a cat gym with ropes, ladders, baskets and balls.
It took more than a year of planning for the three University of Washington graduates.
“We didn’t want typical 9 to 5 jobs,” said Hsieh, 25, who has degrees in biochemistry and electrical engineering.
“We were hanging out and came across the idea for a cat cafe online,” said Lai, who worked in online marketing. “Last year, we did a pop-up cat cafe event and sold out 800 reservation spots in three days.”
The popularity of cat cafes has boomed in Asia, especially among young single adults looking for comfort without commitment. In Japan, some cafes focus on specifics, such as black cats, fat cats or rare breed cats.
Louisa Liu, 26, has a degree in chemistry.
“None of us have animal-related or business-related backgrounds,” she said. “Andrew and I are from Taiwan and there are a lot of cat cafes. The cat cafes are very different, there are no strict animal codes or regulations. A lot of times, the restaurant or cafe just takes in the stray animals and calls it a cat cafe or dog cafe. Here, we wanted our cat cafe to have a purpose, so we partnered with a shelter with cats that are adoptable and give them a second chance. We don’t pick and choose the cats. We get whoever is sent from the shelter.”
The lounge gives people cat time and gives cats people time.
“It’s a chance to build that trust relationship with people so that they can be adopted,” she said.
Any cat fights?
“The space is big enough if one doesn’t like the other, it can get away,” she said.
Each week a cat is selected to be adopted out. There also are seven resident cats that are not adoptable.
Two doors separate the lounge from the cafe to foil any escapes from within or intruders from outside.
The cat who tried to stowaway in a visitor’s jacket got caught.
People are let in on the hour, with reservations recommended. The limit is 15 in the lounge. There are tables for sipping coffee and lots of floor space to frolic.
The lounge draws all ages, but visitors must be at least 8.
“It’s my birthday today. I’m allergic to cats so I thought I’d treat myself to watching cats play,” said Joe Gregson, 24, a Seattle software worker.
“They’re so cute. I can watch them have fun. Sometimes they come up to me and I can just pet them for a minute.”