Cat cafés are popping up in Chicago, letting kitty lovers hang out with furry pals in a living room-like setting. Rather than being all about food and drink, these cafés are more about finding furr-ever homes for pets.
At this non-profit arcade-themed cat rescue and lounge, owners Christopher Gutierrez and Shelly Casey have cheeky attitudes and giant, cat-loving hearts. They take in cats from several areas, but mostly from Southeast Kentucky, which has a high kill rate for cats. The café is filled with cat décor, toys and free arcade games such as Nintendo64 Mario Kart. It’s a great place to relax with a canned beverage, snuggle with some kitties and play retro arcade games.
To enter, everyone must be 7 or older. Plus, cats cannot be picked up, but you are welcome to pet and play as much as you like. Cat yoga and comedy nights are on the calendar and the entire place can be rented for one-hour birthday parties.
Open afternoons and evenings except Wednesdays. Reservations recommended. Check the website for hours as catnaps are taken on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
1235 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
This sweet little cat café in Wicker Park is partnered with Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control to help find homes for some of Chicago’s neediest cats. They are also home to Kitten Korner, the first kitten nursery in Chicago. Owner and founder Jenny Tiner is passionate about saving kittens.
While kids must be 10 and older to enter the Kitten Korner, there are no age restrictions in the main lounge and staff are more than happy to guide families to cats that are kid-friendly.
“I think that to know whether or not a cat will be able to integrate well into a family we have to see how the cat and the child interact,” Tiner says. “Being a part of the future lifelong relationship between a child and a cat is an honor for me.”
The lounge area has comfy spots for people and cats to sit, including cool hanging chairs and nooks for cats by the windows, as well as toys to play with the felines or cat-themed board games. Reservations are recommended. $14 per person per hour for the main lounge and $18 if you choose to visit the Kitten Korner. Refrigerated bottled drinks and a few snacks are available, or you can pick up food or drink from Gallery Café.
Open Wednesday-Sunday. Check the website for hours. Special events include yoga, painting, movies and the owner hopes for a story time soon.
1746 W. North Ave., Chicago
The newest cat café features a barista serving up coffee and tea. It is home to five cats that are healthy, but carry the FeLV feline leukemia virus. FeLV is impossible to cure and compromises the cat’s immune system, but does not pose a risk to other animals or humans. Tree House chose to center its cat café around FeLV-positive cats to help destigmatize the virus and find furr-ever homes for these kitties that need a second chance. “The virus may shorten their lives, but they love even harder,” says Alana Grelyak, Tree House Humane Society marketing & community relations manager.
Open noon-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, Book 30-minute visits in advance. Those under 17 need parental supervision. The money from your visit helps support shelter cats.
7225 N. Western Ave., Chicago