Monday, June 24, 2024

Monday at the Cat Café

When Melissa (aka “The Colonel”) visits me in San Diego, she typically goes along with “D-Tours” and lets me plan our adventures. Last month, she had a suggestion of her own: The Cat Café. The what?!? I’d never heard of this place, which isn’t all that surprising since I’m more of a dog person. Still, I was  intrigued, and wanting to be a good host, I drove her downtown to see if this place matched the hype. From their website:

Operating since January 2015, The Cat Café is the fourth oldest continuously operating kitty café in the United States. Our menu features award-winning espresso and coffee from Café Virtuoso, pastries from Bread & Cie, cookies from The Cravory, and sandwiches from Sunshine & Orange. The cats are available for adoption, should you fall in love during your visit. These furry friends are from The Rescue House, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless kitties find loving homes.

The outside and interior spaces looked semi-promising. To be able to play with the kitties, you have to pay $20 per person. This also includes one complimentary treat and beverage. OK…that sounded semi-reasonable…

until we met the staff and got a closer look at the offerings. All of the staff appeared semi-catatonic or drugged, like they’d wandered off the set of “The Stepford Wives.” The wrapped-in-plastic items…yeah, not sure about expiration dates or cleanliness or any of that, so I took a hard pass. A bottled water? Sure…that works. I wasn’t about to ask the audio-animatronic at the counter to make me a beverage.

Before seeing the cats, you have to pass through the double security doors and then get briefed by another employee who appeared to have had their personality sucked out with a vacuum cleaner. They robotically spouted out a long laundry list of dos and don’ts; no way I was going to remember them all. Melissa was excited to pour all her love into her soon-to-be-best-feline-friends. This photo pretty much sums up her expectation.

The cats had different ideas. The website says:

Enjoy Local Coffee in the Company of Some of San Diego’s Friendliest Felines!

The first few cats ran away as fast as they could when Melissa approached them with outstretched arms. However, she flew from one coast to the other and was not going to leave without a photo. Note the semi-death grip on this cat’s neck. The things we do for a smoke-and-mirrors memory.

We didn’t stay long. The concept sounded cool, but the execution was depressing. I truly felt sorry for these cats, as the employees didn’t seem to care too much about them. There were a few customers hanging out there, but again, didn’t see a lot of interaction with the cats. This poor feline; in its eyes, I could see, “Help me get out of here!”

This place will not remain on the D-Tours Itinerary and Melissa is now strictly forbidden from making any suggestions.

See more San Diego photos at my main website.

1 comment:

Fifthrider said...

This particular cat cafe used to be ( no pun intended ) catty corner from their current location. Their previous location was larger and nicer, wide open glass windows so you could see everything from the street. All sorts of cat furniture custom designed for the floorplan, etc. This new location feels like they had to forcibly move into this smaller venue, then cut up all the custom deigned cat walks and rearrange them to fit into the new place. ( So basically, the same thing modern Disney Imagineers do when re-imagining an attraction. ) It's dark, tight, and as you noticed the cats respond as if medicated. There is no joy, only cats that want to be left alone but that have had just enough calming spray applied to them that they're semi-forced to relax. I visited this new location once in early 2023. As you said, it's depressing. Even if a person can't quite explain it or put their finger on the issues, the general feeling is still that this is awkward and something isn't right.