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Why New York City’s first cat cafe is good for your health


(Photo: Christa Hamilton)
(Photo: Christa Hamilton)
(Photo: Christa Hamilton)

Many New Yorkers want to own cats—this one, included. But our busy lifestyles and cramped apartments (and roommates who don’t appreciate litter boxes?) don’t always allow for it.

The solution to that problem is Meow Parlour, New York City’s first permanent cat cafe, which opened Monday on the Lower East Side and has already generated so much excitement that appointments are currently booked through early February.

At Meow Parlour, you can pet and play with adoptable cats as if you were in your own (much larger and furrier) living room. And other than providing a feline fix and endless Instagram opportunities, spending time there can have a meditative and stress-relieving quality to it (as long as you’re not allergic, obviously).

“Cats don’t stress about yesterday or tomorrow,” says co-founder Christina Ha. “They worry about exactly what’s going on in the moment, like what toys are in front of them. It’s really relaxing to be around that kind of energy.”

Ha is also the founder of Macaron Parlour, a patisserie with locations in the East Village and Upper West Side, and she created the cat cafe with Macaron Parlour employee Emilie Legrand, which means you can order pastries like vegan cookies and kitty-faced macarons, in addition to Blue Bottle Coffee and Harney & Sons tea, directly from the Meow Parlour Patisserie next door. (It also means they’re probably the trendiest business owners in NYC.)

(Photo: Ethan Covey)
Liza will quickly steal your heart, and maybe your boyfriend’s side of the bed. (Photo: Ethan Covey)

The cafe is open, bright, and modern, with lots of toys to pique the cats’ interest and spaces for them to retreat to if they feel nervous, tired, or annoyed with you. And no, there are no strange cat smells or tuffs of fur balls blowing across the floor.

Since all of the cats are up for adoption (in partnership with Kitty Kind), it doesn’t feel weird or like they’re being treated like circus animals. In fact, they probably love the attention—even if in true cat nature, they refuse to show it.

You can purchase time with the cats at $4 per half hour or $30 for the maximum five-hour period (yes, five) but it’s by appointment only… and remember that thing I said earlier about February?

“When a cat sits on your lap, time just kind of freezes,” Ha says. Until you get your spot, you may have to find relief from anxiously anticipating your appointment with an aromatherapy candle. And be forewarned when you do: Stopping by may be a nice substitute for owning a cat, but I left there seriously longing to take sweet, charismatic Liza home with me. —Jamie McKillop

Meow Parlour, 46 Hester St., Lower East Side, www.meowparlour.com

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