RASKC commends Seattle Meowtropolitan, a cat café and foundation in Seattle, that has entered its sixth remarkable year of operations- despite all of the COVID restrictions. Meowtropolitan provides interactive experiences for cats and people, adoption opportunities, and a super fun gift shop- in person and online. Additionally Meowtropolitan offers in-person all-levels “yoga time with cats,” led by professional instructors in Viniyoga- a breath-centered practice that brings focus and peace of mind while stretching and stabilizing one’s body.
Co-founder and co-owner Andrew Hsieh launched Meowtropolitan in December 2015, after about 15 months of planning, fundraising, renovations, and waiting on permits. All of Meowtropolitan’s co-owners and co-founders are proudly Asian-American. RASKC recently spoke with Andrew.
How would you describe the mission of Seattle Meowtropolitan? “We aim to be like a Disneyland for people who like cats. We provide a really good platform and immersive space for people to interact with cats. Meow educates people on cat behaviors and nutrition. A lot of what we thought was common knowledge is not necessarily known by a lot of people who come into our cat lounge. Another part of our mission is to provide a space for cats to thrive, become relaxed, reveal their personalities, and to interact with a wide range of people.
“Originally we thought our mission would be to adopt out as many homeless cats as possible. Then we discovered the unique problem that the Seattle area sometimes has of there not being many homeless cats! Meowtropolitan has adopted out at least 200 cats, but then we stopped tracking the numbers. Our focus is instead on providing the best experiences possible for the cats and people.”
What is unique about Seattle Meowtropolitan, compared to other cat cafés in the United States? “In most ways we are pretty similar, except for the number of resident cats who live at our café on a permanent basis. We are the only cat café in this country to provide an ongoing home for so many cats. At the most, some other cafés have one resident cat. We have six resident cats!”
What are some Meowtropolitan achievements that you feel especially good about? “That we are still open! We have come through COVID with a lot of help from a lot of people. We’d like to thank everyone for their continual support and contributions to help us stay afloat. In March 2020, we had to shut down the cat lounge for three months. We also shut down the café side then too, which is still closed- a year later. This means we have not been able to sell any food or beverages. We hope to open the café hopefully in a few months if it’s safe to do so. Our revenues plunged 60%- more than that for a while, but recently things have gotten better. We have to limit the number of guests in the cat lounge to six people. The silver lining is that the cats can spend more quality time per person.
“We are also proud of the Sea-Meow Convention that we organized in 2019- a pretty big achievement. At least 5,000 people attended over two days. This event brought together all aspects of cat culture and so many people who love cats. We’d love to offer this event again this year in the autumn, but it’s too soon to tell if that’s a realistic possibility.”
How can members of the public help Meowtropolitan? “Schedule a time to visit our Feline Kingdom or one of our “Cat Yoga: Yoga for Pawsitivity” sessions. Purchase a gift certificate. Make a donation from our Amazon wishlist. Make a contribution otherwise. Purchase an item from our giftshop; we offer cat-themed masks, t-shirts, socks, jewelry, cups, toys, artwork, and catnip-related items. Attend our next Sea-Meow convention.”
How do you regard RASKC? “RASKC has been helpful in many ways. One of the most important ways is providing cats and medical care for the cats. It’s super great for Meowtropolitan to focus on the day-to-day care of the cats we foster from RASKC and not to have to stress out about any medical issues that arise.
“In the early days, we faced some challenges of where we would get the cats from. I am told that RASKC volunteer Karolyn Grimes brought a newspaper clipping to RASKC’s Dr. Gene Mueller that mentioned that Meowtropolitan would be opening in Seattle. Then Gene called us. He was so open-minded and supportive. I was so surprised that governmental bureaucracy did not get in the way at all. I would especially like to thank Karolyn and Gene!
“I would also like to thank RASKC Animal Care Coordinators Nickie Ford and Emily Ruppert, who are (or have been) our main contacts there. They have been so communicative and understanding. We all work together quite smoothly.”
Fun fact? “We have very smart cats. Some of them can do ‘high fives.’ Most people don’t realize that cats can be trained to do this. We also have a resident cat, named Penguin, who has figured out not to rush in at meal time to satisfy his hunger. He actually delays his gratification, knowing that we bring out the higher quality food later during dinner. That type of behavior is almost unheard of in the animal world.”