Cat Town: Oakland, CA
Address: 2869 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: +1 (510) 747-9064
Hours: W-Sat 10-19:00; Sun 10-17:00; Closed M/T
Entrance Fee: $10/hour
A Very Special Visit: Review of Cat Town
Cat Town is the first cat cafe in the United States, opening in 2014.
This alone would be a standout feature, but when you consider their influence on cats cafes, rescue and adoption around the world, simply put, they are heroes.
A non-profit rescue since 2011, their approach has transformed the cat cafe scene into the cage free shelter extension & adoption center model that dominates not just the United States (and world) today. They also pioneered socialization techniques used to improve the adoption rates of shy and scared cats, as well as those that have human avoiding (feral) tendencies.
The day I visited, I was fortunate to meet with Ann Dunn, the founder of Cat Town. She began as a volunteer at Oakland Animal Services, a shelter that at the time was under resourced to care for the number of animals it received each year. She felt that it was a difficult environment for some cats and she sought an alternative that would help those at the greatest risk for euthanasia.
Ann and Cat Town still work closely with Oakland Animal Services, sharing the same core group of volunteers that are adept in identifying cats that would benefit from the environment provided by Cat Town.
Cat Town began as a foster-based program in 2011 and in 2014, Ann launched Cat Town Cafe (now Cat Town Cafe and Adoption Center) in collaboration with Adam Myatt — aka the Cat Man of West Oakland. Impressive is how they have surrounded themselves with a team of outside experts to advise them not just in cat care and behavior, but in management and legal issues. Success does not happen by accident, it takes a concerted effort.
Ann and I chatted inside The Studios at Cat Town, a 2017 expansion of their main adoption center where staff and volunteers work with Oakland’s most difficult to place shelter cats, providing dedicated attention and a greater opportunity to be adopted.
We talked at length about their journey to being where they are today and how much she has learned along the way. For example, the cafe side of things nearly caused them to go under, as the business side of running a coffee shop proved to be challenging.
Fortunately, fate intervened and soon the fine folks of RAWR Coffee Bar took over the cafe side of things, which I must say, they do a magnificent job. My cup of Highwire coffee was outstanding!
Once the cafe situation stabilized, Ann turned her focus back to the Adoption Center, which she explained was the main room where most of the cats reside, and is part of the socialization process. Once cats in graduate from The Studios to the Adoption Center, shy cats learn from the more confident cats how to interact with humans. I was amazed to learn that there is a structured and proven method for acclimating and socializing cats.
After our talk, I spent a lot of time in both The Studio and Adoption Center bonding with cats and staff alike. The facility is wonderful- bright, colorful and clean and there is definitely a chill vibe which has a calming affect on cats and humans alike. This place feels like a warm hug.
The compassion and energy that Ann and her staff have for vulnerable felines, coupled with the incredible vision and discipline they have demonstrated in making Cat Town successful is something I don’t know that I can do adequate justice in conveying. In my cat travels, I’ve met passionate cat lovers and successful cat cafes, but the combination of knowledge, caring, dedication and intelligence blew me away and put Cat Town in a category of its own.
If you love cat travel and are a cat lover, rescue advocate or cat cafe aficionado, consider Cat Town your ultimate destination.
I want to give a shout out and offer my gratitude and special thanks to Ann and Cathy (communications manager) for being so generous in speaking with me and answering all of my questions.
Date Visited: 5/17/18