May 17, 2022
Deep within the heart of Los Angeles, there’s a paradise for both humans and felines: CatCafe Lounge. Cat Cafes started popping up in Japan, but this particular California cat cafe is unique because it has a clear mission: to save cats.
CatCafe Lounge is the only nonprofit cat cafe in Los Angeles, and one of ten nonprofit cat cafes in the U.S. In Los Angeles, they are also the only cat cafe where the cats are available to adopt. According to the owner and founder, Kristi Labrenz, they’ve facilitated almost 700 adoptions since their start in 2018.
Guests make a reservation in advance, and then they get to order a drink from the menu, and spend time with the cats. Guests are encouraged to pet and play with the cats, and if a connection forms, then they can also adopt.
“The process is that we ask for a contribution fee in order to enter the space,” explained Labrenz. “That’s how we continue to cover all the expenses for these guys and for the facility. And then if guests want to adopt, we try to understand a little bit more about what they’re looking for and try to match the correct cat personality.”
CatCafe Lounge has a partnership with Stray Cat Alliance, a rescue dedicated towards saving cats from shelters before they can be euthanized and educating the community about feline wellness.
“The idea came to me when I visited a cat cafe in Japan. I had never heard of the concept before, but in most parts of the world, the cats are not available for adoption. They’re just meant to be a therapy outlet for people that want but can’t have cats, and they go to these types of places to socialize with the cats. That’s where I initially heard of the idea, but then I immediately thought, ‘we need to add an adoption element,’” she said, her eyes lighting up. “I immediately knew, this is 100% going to have an adoption element and we’re going to do this as a nonprofit so that people feel really gratified about their contribution within our organization.”
Though this is the only cat cafe in Los Angeles that offers the option for people to adopt, guests are also encouraged to visit, even if it’s just for fun.
While Labrenz may be a cat lover, she is also quite allergic, even though she has adopted three of them. “It was especially difficult in the beginning, when I still didn’t have any staff. I always had my rescue inhaler with me and I took allergy medication every day,” she laughed. “But thankfully, you know, through the growth of the organization I’ve been able to bring on other team members that I can entrust to make sure that the operation is running the way that it should, with the care of the cats first of mind, so that I can focus on growing the operation doing other life saving activities outside of this.”
The space, though very welcoming, is designed for the cats. There are plenty of places for them to climb, plenty of toys to play with, and even quiet spaces for them to take a break if they’re feeling overwhelmed. They also have a spacious indoor and outdoor area for the cats and guests to enjoy. Labrenz assured The Click that the cats still get to stay there even after closing hours.
According to Labrenz, they take in cats of any and all ages, as well as all types of cats, including three-legged and one-eyed cats. But once they’re at the facility, they are all provided with the same assistance. “They’re all spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped before arriving, and then they get to come here, live a stress-free life and get the socialization they need,” she said.
The fear many people may encounter when thinking of a cat cafe, is often that of cleanliness. However, at CatCafe Lounge everything was spotless, there was no excess of hair or strange odors.
During the summer months, or “kitten season,” CatCafe Lounge usually opens up a secondary location in order to account for the excess in cats that they receive during that time. Kitten season is what they call the months in which the stray cat population goes into heat, and there’s usually a rise in stray kittens during that time.
“There are over 3 million stray cats in Los Angeles that are suffering. And it doesn’t need to be that way,” shared Labrenz. “Our objective is to show people that cats are friendly. They’re just as social as dogs.”
CatCafe Lounge provides an atmosphere of pure relaxation and joy. There were cats playing with the guests, napping, and even following guests around for extra cuddles. From the looks of pure peace on their gazes, you could tell that this place was truly an oasis for them.
“They’re truly these little angels that have been all over Los Angeles, that have been saved, and are happy beings that can bring so much joy to everyone’s life. That’s our mission, to help educate about why these animals are some of the best companion animals,” said Labrenz.