City cat fans have a reason to start purring.
The Big Apple’s first cat café, Meow Parlour, opened Monday at 46 Hester St. on the Lower East Side.
Co-founder Christina Ha greeted guests amid cats both sleepy and skittish, noting that her own generally aloof kitty, Mr. Socks, woke her up with nuzzles and some cuddling; a “good omen” since Mr. Socks “doesn't like” her.
Ha’s had a tiring week, but “what we’re doing is for the cats,” she said.
It’s easy to believe her since the walls of Meow Parlour are lined with photos and bios of the eight (out of an eventual 12) cats currently residing on-site. The bios boast personality traits noting which cats are siblings, and so prefer to be adopted together.
“We’re not designed to be a rescue group,” admitted Ha, who is also the owner and head pastry chef of Macaron Parlour.
The biggest challenge, she said, was combining the “cat” and “café” portions of the project, which is why local shelter KittyKind takes care of the adoption process. Ha, meanwhile, focuses heavily on the patisserie around the corner, where patrons can snag coffee and treats before entering the cat-play area half a block away.
This arrangement not only keeps the New York Department of Health happy, but allows KittyKind to maintain their thorough adoption process: application, interview and home screening. When a loving home is found, a new cat is introduced to the café.
But for some New Yorkers, Meow Parlour is a great way to get a cat fix without having to adopt. A half-hour of kitty time costs $4.
Ana Sanchez of Morningside Heights, a Meow Parlour patron who got a first-day café reservation, owned three cats before moving to New York but realizes that owning a cat isn’t a feasible option for her right now.
“I’m a student. I leave the house at 7 a.m. and come back sometimes at 11 p.m.,” Sanchez said. “It’s not fair for a cat.”
Now, Sanchez and every other cat-loving New Yorker can have animal affection sans irresponsible ownership.
Peter Fogel, a Chicago resident visiting his friend in New York, lamented the lack of a cat cafe in his home city as he gazed longingly into the Meow Parlour window, where resident cats Julian and Squinkles paraded for cameras.
“I don’t have a cat in Chicago,” Fogel said. “I would love a place to go visit cats and sip coffee.”