For most of my adult life, I’ve been a dog person. Cat people, I thought, were weird and lonely, obsessed with these noncommittal, high-and-mighty furballs in a way that made me cringe a little. Dogs at least meet you halfway in the relationship, and earn their love through various acts of kindness.
But this past June, I fell in love with a baby cat I met in Santo Domingo that I unfortunately didn’t know very long before I had to leave the country. But that love sparked a change in me, and now, slowly, day by day, I am morphing into a cat person.
That’s why Montreal’s cat cafe attracted me. I had read about it in a Vice article, and while I’m not into shrooms, I’m (recently) into cats and I’m into coffee. So I didn’t think I could lose.
But here’s the thing about the cat cafe. The cafe is cute. The cats are cute (but, c’mon, they’re cats, so they don’t really care about you). It’s even a cute idea—a neighborhood spot made to feel like an old crazy lady’s home, with kitties lazing about, where you can study or chill, or just enjoy the peacefulness of their presence.
And I’m sure the owners are well-meaning. On the cafe’s website, they say their motivation is based on “our unconditional love for pets in general and cats in particular,” and that they hope to offer “memorable moments to cat lovers and [ensure] a comfortable living environment for the cats.”
But I couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for the cats—the way people came and drooled over them, forcibly petting them, snapping tons of photos (guilty), chasing them around and waking them up when they’re clearly napping, most of which are forbidden according to the posted rules.
When my sister and I first arrived, the cafe was more or less empty. But suddenly, as if on cue, the place filled up with overexcited people, and a group of gawkers nearly gasped at one point when a cat sauntered by their table. It was creepy, like being in a strip club with a group of 18-year-old guys (I’ve never done that, but I can imagine.)
These people were clearly cat fans, but hadn’t they seen a cat in real life before? Like, why were these particular cats so amazing, so worthy of attention?
I think even better than a cat cafe would be a cafe with cats. Here’s the distinction: A cafe with cats would be a place people go for coffee, to study, to read or to meet up with people. The cats could idle about, but their presence would be a pleasant surprise, not the main attraction or the cafe’s sole purpose. It would not be a place weirdos go to gape at poor felines, to harass them or give them unwanted attention.
I never thought I’d stand up so much for cats – these creatures that claw, and hiss, and jump off your lap just when you’re getting cozy. But strange as they might be sometimes, even they need alone time now and then, and to always be “on stage” can’t be a good thing.
If you can’t resist visiting the cafe, here are some details:
3435 Rue Saint-Denis
Montréal, QC, Canada H2X 3L1
Tuesday-Wed-Thursday: 10am – 8pm
Friday-Saturday: 10am – 10pm
Sunday: 10am – 8pm
The cafe is located by lots of other restaurants and shops in Montreal, so explore the surrounding area if you have a chance. And if you do go, please: Be kind to the kitties.