Ottawa's first cat cafe set to open its doors in Hintonburg

Cat café aims to find homes for foster felines
Cat cafe 1
Jax the cat inside the Hintonburg cafe, which should open its doors this week. Photo by Dylan C. Robertson, Metro News.

A white-pawed tabby cat named Jax rubs his left side against a burlap table leg, hops up a bookshelf and sprawls out next to a coffee mug.

Relaxed strangers with drinks like “cat-purr-chino” and “meow-cha latte” pet, pucker and chat as five cats wag their tales.

Ottawa’s first cat café will launch as soon as this week in Hintonburg, with a mission to find stray cats new homes.

“This is a place for people who love cats,” Feline Café owner Josée Cyr told Metro.

“Maybe they’re thinking of adopting, or don’t have the right apartment, or they travel a lot for work.”

Cyr got the idea after visiting a similar café in Montreal, which blended her passions for business, animals and food.

Last fall, she launched a Kickstarter to gauge local interest, and 195 people pitched in $6,803.

Since then, the 25-year-old has renovated an older building and made shelves and posts from reclaimed construction materials, thanks to local recycling-design firm re4m.

Cyr said the hardest part was wrangling city permits. The food counter and cat lounge are bisected by a two-door vestibule, to conform to health codes. When the city approves a food permit, the café at 1076 Wellington St. W. will be open to the public.

The cost of the salads, sandwiches and drinks is used to look after the cats, Cyr said.

Cat cafe 2
Josée Cyr, owner of the Feline Café in Hintonburg, poses alongside Jax the cat on April 30. Photo by Dylan C. Robertson, Metro News.

The cats are from Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue, which prepares biographies for each feline with adoption information. Jax, for example, is “an old soul” born in spring 2014 who “loves to cuddle and he is very calm.”

It’s Ottawa’s first permanent cat café, though the LGBT centre Kind Space holds a monthly Purrfect Café event in Centretown.

Jason Weber donated $75 to the crowdfunding effort. As a cat-adoption advocate, he hopes the café will help with a backlog of stray cats.

“This could really support local groups, because there are cats in foster homes across the city,” he said. “Seeing a cat and their personalities is so much more than a photo on Instagram.”

This story originally appeared in Metro News.