SparkNotes Blog

Inside North America’s First CAT CAFE and Leading Cat Dictatorship

You’ve probably heard that New York City has opened its very own cat cafe, but the tabbies down on the Lower East Side are, for lack of a better word, copycats, and merely bandwagoning on a trend that has TWICE blessed the streets of Montreal, Canada. There are—I kid you not—TWO such cafes in the snowy city of Montreal, because who wouldn’t want to have a choice of locations where one may sip daintily on a hot beverage whilst seated next to a cat? Also, capitalism. Despite the seeming ridiculousness of two feline-centered patisseries opening up shop in town, cat cafes are actually the best thing to ever happen to the city(’s existence as a polar vortex of death from early November to mid-March).

When my friend asked me to accompany her on a pilgrimage to cat Mecca, I screamed internally but masterfully held my composure long enough to play it cool. I was like, “okay.” So we picked a date. When we got there, I slipped twice on the staircase, which I hoped was not a foreshadowing of what was to come—as a cat owner, I knew from experience that cats choose when they want to interact with you; you don’t choose when to interact with cats. Much like wands choosing wizards. (Would these cats go all Neville’s wand on us?) In addition, the cats were technically strangers, and when I was little I was always told not to pet strangers. Also not to take candy from them. I opened the door having resolved to pet the cats with caution but not accept any of their candy.

Before entering, we were instructed to remove our shoes. Probably because us wearing shoes would give the cats an inferiority complex because cats can’t wear shoes, I thought shrewdly. As we stepped into the holy grail of cafes, I felt like what I would imagine Taylor Swift feels like after seven cups of coffee. Like, put “1989” on twice the speed and that’s how I felt. There were cats everywhere, of all shapes and sizes. A good ninety percent of them were sleeping, but 100% of them were cute as HECK. I made a mental note to henceforth measure cuteness in cats’ button noses. For example, a laughing baby is equivalent to twelve cats’ button noses. Overcome with emotion, my friend and I sat down on an abnormally large beanbag chair that was approximately ten cubic cats deep and ordered hot chocolate (“chat-colat chaud”—seriously? 10 points to Hufflecat). The cats didn’t order anything.

I soon realized that these cats were not pissed about having a bunch of randos in their crib. They were, in actual(k)it(t)y, the most spoiled br(c)ats I had ever laid eyes on. Customers are not allowed to pick them up or pet them when they’re sleeping; two things that, if done to me, would surely ruffle my feathers, too. So people would wander over, let the ~very awake~ cat sniff their hands to make sure it was okay to commence petting, and then pet the cat for a minute or two, until the cat would turn the other way content that it had had enough pampering. I was in a room full of feline Queen of Shebas, and I wasn’t doing anything to quell their inflated egos either. You are the most adorable cat I have ever laid eyes on besides my own cat, I whispered to one particularly chunky and egotistical-looking tabby. The two grandmotherly-types who waltzed in towards the end of our visit weren’t helping either. After parking themselves at a table near the door and ordering their cat-punned beverages, the fattest cat in the whole joint waddled over and turned the madames’ table into his own personal massage chair. Belly out, paws over head, all systems go. The ladies rubbed this cat’s belly for approximately 20 minutes. I was like, what is this cat? A dog? See picture below.

Anyway, most of the other kats were napping and thus unbearably Kute with a kapital K. By the time I realized my hot chocolate had become cold chocolate, it was too late to salvage the beverage. In most situations concerning hot chocolate, I nurse the giant cup slowly and with much care. A couple of days ago during a routine checkup, the doctor taking my blood was shocked to discover that I am the only known human to have blood that is 90% cacao. The point is, I neglected my sacred hot chocolate for some quality one-on-cat time, and was able to do so thanks to this wonderful establishment. I will now rate my overall experience based on categories I have found appropriate.

Food: 7/10 my friend’s croissant looked good, but the cats looked better

Beverages: 5/10 because what are beverages when there are cats?

Service: 10/10 cat luvers of the world unite

Ambiance: 10/cat

Location: 0/10 but willing to compromise on this rating if you guys move locations to next door to my apartment building

Cats: 10/10 doggedly cute

Dogs: 0/10 and rightly so under these circumstances

Lighting: 10/10 instagrammable

Seating: 9/10 crowded but I don’t blame you enough to deduct more than one point

Stay tuned for a post about Montreal’s OTHER cat cafe, in which I write a scathing review (convey how disappointed I am that there are not three of them).

Would you pay Cafe des Chats a visit? (answer: of course you would)