Known on TikTok for their dry voice overs about their feline residents, including the infamous Rice-a-roni (“all he does is crime”), Neko Cat Café is a unique food and cat experience in Washington state. With two locations, one in Seattle and the other in Bellingham, Neko has been delighting Washingtonians with their adorable cats, delicious drinks, and tasty nibbles since opening their doors in 2017.
@neko.cat.cafe justice for tortellini #catcafe #catsoftiktok #crime #seattle #bellingham #fyp ♬ Summer Background Jazz – Jazz Background Vibes
What Is a Cat Café?
Cat cafés originated in Taiwan in the 1990s. The premise behind them was to provide a shelter for cats in need and encourage visitors by serving drinks and snacks. Patrons would come to the café to see the cats, and potentially adopt a pet in the process. The cat cafés in Taiwan were a big attraction for Japanese tourists, and in the early 2000s, a visitor from Japan brought the idea of cat cafés home with them. Now, cat cafés are synonymous with Japan, and there are over 150 of them, 39 of which are in Tokyo alone.
Cat cafés have slowly grown in popularity around the globe and were introduced in America around 2012. There are unique challenges to opening a cat café in the U.S., primarily due to food-service regulations. Additionally, each state may have different regulations on top of the federal requirements, so cat cafés have more hurdles than a standard rescue organization or restaurant. That hasn’t stopped them from spreading throughout the country, with each café meeting the regulations in their own unique way.
Where Do the Cats Come From?
Each cat café will have a different process for taking in new animals. Neko Cat Café partners with Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) to help the shelter find loving homes for their cats. By sending cats to Neko, they are able to get more cats in front of more people, and the staff at the café even trains the animals to be more comfortable about approaching humans. This not only clears up more room in the shelters, but also gives these cats an environment that allows their personalities to shine.
How Is Adopting a Cat from a Café Different Than Adopting from a Shelter?
Because the relationship between each shelter and cat café is unique, the process may vary. Neko Cat Café is very successful in finding homes for the cats they take in, and often receives multiple applications for an individual cat. From there, they interview selected potential adopters to better understand their lifestyle and desire for a cat companion to ensure the kitty they’ve applied for is a good match.
It is important that the needs of the cats and the potential adopter align. Because of the nature of the cat café and the intimate work the staff does with the cats, they have a good understanding of each feline’s personality and comfort zones. This knowledge, paired with the multitude of applications for adoption allows Neko Cat Café to be selective in choosing their adopters to ensure a perfect match. The whole process from application to adoption can take 4-8 weeks through Neko Cat Café.
What About the Cats?
Neko Cat Café’s social media does a great job of introducing the public to their adoptable kitties, as well as their permanent café cats.
Here are some of our favorite purrrsonalities:
Biscotti is an adoptable female brown tabby cat in the Seattle location. She is described as a “suspicious cuddle bug.”
@neko.cat.cafe She’s an anGel she’s just hissundersTood 😤 #nekocatcafe #catcafe #spicycat #seattle #cattok #catsoftiktok #cattutorial ♬ original sound – NEKO Cat Cafe
Barbie is an adoptable female tabby in the Seattle location. She is in a bonded pair with the sweet Polly Pocket.
Charlie is an adoptable male tuxedo cat in the Bellingham location. His long, beautiful fur and sweet personality are sure to make him the perfect companion.
There’s nothing quite like a regal cat and King Julien, the adoptable grey boy from Bellingham, fits the bill!
Burt Macklin, FBI
Though not currently eligible for adoption, stopping by the Seattle location for a visit with Burt Macklin, FBI is well worth the trip.
@neko.cat.cafe #repost ‘cause we have a v exciting merch ítem droppin’ Jan 1 & it has something to do with him 👀 any guesses?? #nekocatcafe #catcafe #burtmacklin #catsoftiktok #seattle #bellingham #cattok #parksandrec ♬ original sound – NEKO Cat Cafe
Neko Cat Café is an experience and cat rescue all wrapped into one. They are unique among cat cafés because of their lovable social media persona, and the way it presents their cats for adoption. If you’re in the Seattle or Bellingham, WA area, make a reservation and visit the cats in person for a fun, feline-filled day out for the family.