Cat Cafés of Montreal
I love the idea of cat cafes. A hot beverage and a furry companion. What could be better? They are everywhere in Asia (along with dog cafes). When I was in South Korea in 2012 I knew that I just had to get myself to one, because I couldn’t see how one would ever open in North America. What insurance company would allow it? What health board?
But lo and behold, North America’s first cat cafe, Le Café des Chats, opened in Montreal just over a year ago. There are now dozens across the continent and Montreal has three of its own. I was gobsmacked. Expedia.ca asked me to share my cafe-hopping experience and I was more than happy to tell you about my afternoon visiting Montreal’s cat cafes.
In case you’re not familiar with them, a cat cafe is like a typical cafe with drinks and food, except that felines roam free. Different cities have different rules but in Montreal the cats and humans are allowed to mingle in a common area where the food is served (but not allowed where it’s prepared). You can pet and play with the cats while you sip your latte. If you love animals but can’t own a pet, this is a perfect compromise.
Le Café des Chats
3435 Rue Saint-Denis
I wanted to see how these Canadian newcomers stacked up to my Korean experience so on my recent trip to Montreal I hit up two of them. Le Café des Chats, located near the Sherbrooke metro station, was first up on my itinerary.
Their coffee is fair trade organic, there are vegan and gluten free treats available and all of the cats were adopted through the Montreal SPCA. The food offers are mostly of the sweet treat variety but you can also get a sandwich here. I went for a late morning iced coffee and croissant.
The main room of the cafe is roughly sectioned into three areas: comfy chairs at the back, dining tables and chairs in the middle, and a bench and beanbag area by the window where the cats tended to congregate. There were eight adult cats on hand: some short-haired, some long-haired, all adorable. It was a sunny afternoon so most of the cats were doing what cats do best…napping.
Keep that in mind if you visit. Just like your cat at home, it’s not playtime all the time. I did get to stroke a few furry heads and bask in their cuteness while getting my caffeine fix so it was a win.
Le Café Chat L’Heureux
172 Avenue Duluth E
Next up was Le Café Chat L’Heureux, which isn’t very close to the metro but you can take either the 29 or the 30 bus and get within a few blocks. This cafe has a larger space and a larger food menu than Le Café des Chats. Try the Cat Lady sandwich (fig jam, honey, goat cheese, cheddar, and caramelized onions). It was delicious and came with a large green salad. As with Le Café des Chats, vegan and gluten free options are available.
All eight of the cats at Le Café Chat L’Heureux were also adopted from shelters around Montreal. They were all chosen for their friendly personalities and their ability to get along with other cats. Maybe it was because afternoon nap time was done or maybe it was the catnip, but the cats here did seem more open to human attention.
I’m not sure if it was the time of day or the cats’ personalities themselves but they were a bit more active than earlier in the day at the other cafe. Things really got rowdy though when a staff member brought out the treat container. He was like the pied piper calling cats from all corners of the cafe.
No matter which cafe you go to you’ll notice that these places are different from regular coffee shops in ways beyond the presence of furry paws and wet noses. Almost everyone takes a camera out at least once. Don’t feel weird. It’s expected. The cats also seem to bring about a camaraderie among the patrons that you don’t see in regular cafes. People may actually talk to each other. Amazing, I know.
So if you’re looking for something cool to do in Montreal, plan a visit to Le Café des Chats, Le Café Chat L’Heureux, or Café Venosa (a vegan cat cafe that I didn’t make it to) and share a coffee with a cat.