The Pacific Northwest is best known for the great outdoors and rainy weather.
Turns out, its what’s inside that matters because the three cat cafes of Seattle (2) and Vancouver (1) are nothing but bright and sunny.
A 2.5 hour drive separates these world-class cities, and if you have the time, I highly recommend you visit both, as well as their cat cafes. Each kitty emporium is worth the trip on its own, but stopping by all three would make it an affair, er, vacation to remember.
The Neighbor’s Cat visited three cat cafes in Seattle and Vancouver in November, 2018. We’ve also been to Purringtons Cat Lounge in Portland, technically part of the Pacific Northwest, but it has since closed and is being re-opened (date TBD) by a new set of owners.
In a city known for coffee and cafe culture, Meowtropolitan doesn’t disappoint.
Yes, the cats are awesome, more on the kitties in a bit, but let’s talk about how this cat cafe delivers a cafe experience to match those fabulous felines!
Open since January, 2016, Meowtropolitan is located in Seattle’s Fremont district, across Lake Union just north of downtown. The cafe has an ideal set-up with a separate full-service coffee shop and cat lounge. Both rooms have an outstanding loft-like atmosphere, with marbled effect concrete floors, lots of wood, dark bricks and exposed ductwork. The coffee room is more dark and atmospheric, while the light in the cat lounge is bright and cheerful, owing to the large picture windows that flank the bench seating.
Meowtropolitan serves a range of coffee drinks courtesy of Herkimer, a beloved local roaster. During our visit, I enjoyed a robust and flavorful drip coffee while my partner sipped on a not-too-weak-yet-not-too-strong latte.
There were nineteen cats in total the day we visited, seven of which are permanent residents also known as the ‘Knights of Meowtropolitan’ including Merlin, a friendly, gorgeous Maine Coon-ish kitty that posed like a supermodel.
Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) of Kent is their outstanding shelter partner and has helped facilitate an amazing 179 adoptions as of December, 2018. Congratulations!
We found a variety of feline personalities in the cat lounge, ranging from shy Sasha, a long-haired beauty with expressive blue-green eyes to curious Kitsa, a white and calico with longish hair, to Antonio, a bold and confident hunk of ginger love I found irresistible!
With plenty of room for humans and cats to spread out, the lounge felt very relaxing. The chill vibe soon had patrons smiling and chatting with one another, such as my lovely conversation with a local cat lover involved in rescue and TNR.
The lighthearted atmosphere is also due in part to the staff of Meowtropolitan, friendly folks that genuinely want you to enjoy your visit. They gave everyone treats near the end of the hour, which is a great way to ensure everyone has a chance to interact with the kitties. Then, they provide a gentle five-minutes-to-go announcement which paves the way for a graceful exit. I found this to be a very thoughtful method for managing the one-hour admission structure.
Meowtropolian is equally pleasing for humans and cats alike, with an environment that makes you want to hang out for hours. A highly recommended stop if you find yourself in Seattle and craving coffee, cats or both!
The majority of US cat cafes feature rescued cats that are available for adoption, and a few of those focus on hard-to-adopt felines, but Neko Cat Cafe takes the concept and adds a super cool factor.
The kitties of Neko are all FLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) positive.
There are a lot of misconceptions about FLV and the life expectancy of cats that are FLV positive. Instead of being doomed to an early death, according to Best Friends Animal Society, "… the reality is, felines who are positive for the virus can remain healthy for months or years after their diagnosis until the virus becomes active." Some cats can live to be 10 to 15 years old if they are diagnosed as an adult.
The cats aren’t the only cool reason to visit Neko, which is the Japanese word for cat.
Neko is also one of the hippest cat cafes around. I’ve visited over 200 in 29 countries, and Neko’s cool factor is right up there with Koneko in New York City. What is it about these Japanese inspired cafes that make them so trendy?
Located in the Capitol Hill section of downtown Seattle, an edgy area filled with bars, restaurants and coffee shops, Neko fits right in with its tongue-in-cheek decor and quirky attitude.
We checked in with the friendly cat bouncer and bartender, Nicole. Yes, I said bartender because while they brew coffee, they also serve beer and wine. I was excited to partake in a canned bubbly Rosé (yes, in a can). Cats and cocktails? Way cool.
Neko had eleven cats in residence that day, most courtesy of Whatcom Humane Society and Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), but according to Nicole, they have sourced cats from all over the US.
Speaking of cats, they included Mochi, a handsome tabby, Albert, a muted gray tortie and a bevy of the most precious black kitties I’ve every seen- cuddly Quigley, shy Linda and sassy Bette Davis.
Our time in the cat room was pure joy. The cats were curious and friendly, with Quigley jumping into the lap of one delighted patron. The space is small, but found it encourages more social interaction with the kitties.
Neko is definitely memorable and stands out in all the right ways. From the special cats, to the atmosphere, to the staff- a visit to Neko is without a doubt, a completely unique experience.
How cool is that?
Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to gather. It’s a time to enjoy turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. It’s a time for cats (when isn’t it?).
Record scratch. Wait, is that just me?
Since I’m not traveling full time anymore, I decided the four day weekend was too valuable to spend with family, when I could spend it with cats. Sorry, not sorry.
We flew into Seattle on the night before Thanksgiving and figured an overnight trip to Vancouver was a no-brainer since it would be ‘business as usual’ up north. During a two hour wait at the border, it became clear that all of Seattle had abandoned their families for Canada. I began to fret that they were all going to the cat cafe.
After we finally arrived, I understood the appeal. Vancouver is an extremely cool world city. We were able to drive around and catch the local sights while waiting for the cafe to open at 5 pm.
Open since December, 2015 Catfe is a truly lovely cat cafe. Light, open and immaculately clean, there is lots to love about the space, but what I adored most was the hip art-gallery vibe that photos just can’t do justice. Throw in a great cup of coffee and the sweetest kitties and, voila, you have the perfect place for date night or a catch up with your bestie.
I had the nicest chat with the staff, including Nina, the manager. Adoption count stands at 633, which is right up there with Pounce, Cat Town Oakland, Brooklyn Cat Cafe and a few others in terms of most cats adopted at a North American cat cafe. They are partnered with BCSPCA but occasionally need to source cats from further afield in British Columbia due to the successful efforts of local cat rescue and TNR (trap-neuter-return) organization VOKRA (Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association) in reducing the feral population around Vancouver.
The day of our visit, we were lucky to meet several of the tribe, including Chiyo, Suna and Temari, a bonded trio of white and ginger sisters, and Tigger, a handsome white and tabby boy who was being adopted that very day and sat patiently on his carrier, waiting to be taken to his forever home.
If you’ve read my previous reviews you know that I’m a huge supporter of cat cafes that facilitate rescue and adoption- and that my reviews tend to be less Zagat and more encouraging cheerleader. In this case, Catfe doesn’t need me to smooth out the rough edges with clever copy. They are genuinely great people who understand how to run an outstanding cat cafe that serve the needs of both felines and humans.
They achieve this balance perfectly and are amongst the best cat cafes in the world.
Perfect for you, dear cat lovers, looking for an alternative to your next family holiday gathering.
The Neighbor’s Cat is the alter ego of Paula LaBine, an itinerant cat lover who writes about cat cafes, rescue/adoption & TNR, and has been featured in Miau Magazine, Katzenworld Blog, The Catnip Times and Taiwan Scene. She is currently on a quest to visit every cat café in the world, 206 in 29 countries so far! Find her at theneighborscat.com or on Facebook/Twitter @catcafeviews.