Don’t get carried away: you can’t eat the cats. But you can play with them. Gatos y Galletas (“cats and cookies”) is a brand new cat café that just opened in Albuquerque. This peculiar dining-with-felines trend began in Taiwan in the ’90s, spread to Japan (a country that now has over 150 cat cafés), and finally made it overseas. The first stateside café opened two years ago in Oakland, California; now there are more than a dozen popular locales. The Meow Parlour in NYC. The KitTea in the Bay area. Purrington’s Cat Lounge in Portland. And now one a little closer to home.
Julia Grueskin, creator of Gatos y Galletas, is a culinary artist and yoga teacher. She decided to open the business to equalize animal appreciation. “There are more opportunities to be out with dogs than cats,” said Grueskin. “A lot of people like cats – but there aren’t too many good ways to interact with them. Going to a shelter is sometimes not the most welcoming environment.”
Grueskin’s café currently houses eight cats, but that number might swell to 12. All cats are fixed (no threat of kittens) and available for adoption. They’re young, each around a year old, but Grueskin plans to accumulate a few older cats in the future, too; it tends to be harder for the older ones to find homes. The organization providing the cats (Fat Katz), previously had people fostering the animals that will live in the café. Some are siblings, others have cohabited already, and Fat Katz specifically chose mousers that do well in new environments or enjoy interacting with new people. “There have been a few scuffles, but overall they get along well,” said Grueskin.
Scientific evidence proves pet owners are happier and healthier than non-pet owners. But some people can’t own pets (their apartment doesn’t allow it, they have allergies, their partner has allergies) so this is the perfect compromise. Interaction and cuddles with no commitment. Grueskin will not only serve coffee and cookies in her establishment but is hosting yoga classes with the cats, too. It seems likely they will just climb all over customers and try to take a nap on someone’s back once they’re in downward dog – but it sounds like fun. “The cats will be roaming around, sometimes you might pick one up and put him on your back, have it balance there, stuff like that,” said Grueskin.
Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldDGO Staff Writer