Salt Lake City—Are you thirsty for a catpuccino? How about a meowcchiato? Well, now there’s a place in Salt Lake City where you can enjoy good coffee, locally made, fresh pastries, and the company of 14 loveable, adoptable cats.
Lisa Boone opened the state’s first cat coffee shop and lounge, Tinker’s Cat Café, on November 4. She first got the idea to open the café three years ago when watching CBS’s The Amazing Race. That night, she saw an episode where the contestants visited a cat café in Japan—the country that originated the concept in the late 1990s. Boone was immediately struck with the desire to bring the idea to Utah, and has been working on it ever since.
The concept is simple. You make a one-hour reservation online (tinkerscatcafe.com), show up before your reserved slot to buy coffee and pastries, and then you (and a maximum of 15 other patrons) will be served your goodies in the cat lounge. The cat lounge—separated from the café proper by a glass door—is where 14 shelter cats of all shapes, colors and sizes play, snooze, meow and relax. You can drink your coffee, play with and pet the cats, or just sit and read a book and wait for one to jump on your lap and take a nap.
Boone has always loved animals and partly wanted to open the cat café to do a service for Utah’s cats. While Utah’s adoption rate for dogs is over 90 percent, its save rate for shelter cats is only around 75 percent. In order to qualify as a no-kill state, Utah’s combined save rate needs to be over 90 percent. Cat cafés are a good way for the public to come in, interact with cats outside the shelter setting, and see if they want to take a new friend home.
“The cats in shelters need more of a chance to be seen and a better chance to get adopted,” said Boone. “Cat cafes around the States have proven to be successful in that area.”
All of the cats at Tinker’s Cat Café come from Salt Lake County Animal Services, who keep records about the cats’ health, personality and preferences. “They happily want to give as many as we can take, and the moment they’re adopted, there’s more ready to come in to Tinker’s,” said Boone.
Thirteen of the 14 cats at Tinkers are adoptable—there is one shop cat, an as-of-yet-nameless black longhaired cat with a flat face, green eyes, and playful disposition. Boone said she is happy to help those looking for cats get matched with their perfect pet—she recently helped, for instance, a local pharmacy student looking to adopt a cat that would be happy to be left alone for long hours while she worked and studied, but happy to snuggle and play at night. Boone immediately linked the student to one of the café’s cats that rarely ever came out of the back room (where cats can easily go to escape humans, if they begin to feel overwhelmed) until nighttime, when the café was empty. The cat and the student bonded, and sure enough, Tinker’s Cat Café got one of its first adoptions.
Boone is hoping for at least five adoptions per month, and is stocking her café to be as inviting as possible. The pastries for sale are made at City Cakes, offering gluten-free and vegan options. The non-vegan pastries and kitty cookies are from Les Madeleines, and Boone said she hopes to soon include bagels from Ditta Café. There is also cat-themed and Tinker’s-themed merchandise for sale.
“We want to create a place where people can relax and de-stress,” said Boone. “We want them to be able to kind of forget for an hour about whatever is going on outside the doors and enjoy themselves.”