The Enlightened Nerd: Catfé

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The Enlightened Nerd is a column designed to enlighten the inner nerd in all of us through local whimsical and intellectual events, people, and places. Know a nerdy person, event, place, or thing in Vancouver? Send it in here or tweet it to @karolinathecat (#theenlightenednerd)

Photo by Philip Moussavi
Photo by Philip Moussavi

Have you ever wished you had a feline friend to keep you company while you were coding late into the night or playing a video game on a rainy day? Perhaps you just need a much-needed break from studying or a pick me up from this unseasonably snowy weather? If so, Catfé is the answer.

Catfé is Vancouver’s first coffee shop with cat companions for adoption from the BCSPCA.The BC SPCA takes in over 13,000 homeless cats per year so by partnering with Catfé it helps in reducing overpopulation. Catfé creates a welcoming community space for both cats and cat lovers and it has found homes for over 300 cats so far.

Since it opened in 2016, the kitty-cat hangout is always booked, making reservations necessary. Looking at Catfé’s availability on a Thursday, everything was booked for the weekend, but they had slots available for the following week so I chose a Tuesday evening.

Catfé only allows a handful of guests in for one hour at a time, to keep the catmosphere peaceful. The café is conveniently located at the International Village Mall (right off of Stadium/Chinatown Station) on the second floor.

From the start, I noticed the spot was designed in a down-to-earth vibe with plenty of light wooden accents, from the entrance doors, to the coffee tables, to the shelves for the cats to climb. When you arrive, you enter through the door on the left first, into the coffee and merchandise shop. Here you can choose to pay an eight-dollar entrance fee, or you can pay five dollars if you purchase anything. They have everything cat-themed imaginable – from cat-themed jewelry and accessories, to Hello Kitty stickers, to greeting cards and magnets featuring cats – so it’s hard to resist picking something up. They also offer light refreshments like coffee, tea, cat-shaped macaroons, brownies, scones, and soup. (I would recommend their vegan peanut butter brownie and lavender mocha!)

Once you’ve paid and received a receipt, you enter through the door on the right. Here you’re taken through the basic rules of the Catfé (don’t pick up the cats, don’t bother them while they are sleeping, don’t touch there bellies etc.), you wash your hands, and it’s time to play!

Catfé is a light-hearted temporary home and kingdom for these cats. It’s much more spacious than I imagined. It has special shelves, nooks and crannies created for the cats to climb and play hide-and-seek in, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows for the cats to look outside onto the street. There are dozens of toys for the cats to play with. Among all of this are aesthetic touches like a cat-shaped fluorescent sign and decorative lit up boxes.

Photo by Philip Moussavi
Photo by Philip Moussavi

Catfé has a revolving roster of eight to twelve cats brought in from the BCSPCA every week as previous cats find homes. The bunch available when I visited were all soft, young and shy. My favourite cat was probably “Scott,” a fluffy tangerine coloured fellow. He sat on a rug relaxing with his eyes closed and allowing me to pet his little noggin.

I was also really fond of the tortoiseshell-patterned twins, Chloe and Celia. The fluffy mixed calicos were friendly and very fond of games, chasing, jumping and swatting at whatever toy together.

Truly, it’s hard to pick favourites. Every cat had its own personality and was there because it wanted a forever home. Even the moustachioed tuxedo cat named “Wilber” that chose to sit high up above everyone else and groom himself, and the new tiny gray cat that sat half-hiding, half-watching everything with its giant saucer eyes wanted a permanent home with loving owners.

I secretly went to Catfé hoping I would find a companion for my current cat. However, due to Catfé’s popularity, cats are picked up for adoption fast! Almost every cat had an adoption pending, with the only cats lacking this being the furry friends that had to be adopted as a pair (or in one case, as a trio, due to a lifelong bond). I was told to check back as they receive new furballs every Thursday. The sixty minutes spent at Catfé were blissful and I’ll definitely be back when I need another high dose of cats and caffeine.

Catfé
Unit #2035 – International Village Mall (88 West Pender Street), Vancouver

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 11AM – 8PM
Thursday 5 – 9PM
Friday and Saturday 11AM – 9PM

P1110039
Photo by Philip Moussavi