Just minutes from now, at precisely noon today, New York City’s first permanent cat café will open its doors, and your Instagram feed will look something like the slideshow above. We got a sneak peek at Meow Parlour this morning and can confirm that this isn’t a sick social media experiment: this cat café is 100% real.
But if you’re hoping for some QT with these cuddly creatures ($4 for the minimum of 30 minutes and $30 for the max of five hours), get ready to make friends with your Refresh button first. Emilie Legrand of Macaron Parlour tells us the place is booked pretty much through January. “When we opened the [reservation] system last week,” she said, “it crashed in five minutes because of the high traffic.”
“After the holiday we’ll probably start accepting walk-ins,” she assured. But in the meantime, she and her partner, chef Christine Ha, are trying to get a sense of how long people want to hang out with the cuddly kitties, which are provided by KittyKind and are available for adoption.
The first of the cats, whose “purrsonality” profiles adorn the walls, arrived ten days ago and the last of them got there just yesterday. But they seemed to be chill about being barraged by cameras from USA Today and other click-hungry media outlets, including this one. (Normally there’s no flash photography, but for us? Anything!)
“We were expecting some interest but not so much interest,” said Legrand, adding that the fervor was “probably because there was a lot of frustration with the Purina popup last spring. We tried to get there but we couldn’t, like a lot of people.”
But during last week’s preview period for Kickstarter backers, Legrand had to turn away some cat crazies herself. “We’ve had some people trying to explain to us that they’re in New York just for today and that they really, really had to get in,” she told us. “It’s a little heartbreaking to say no.”
As for the cat café experience, we were sadly too busy snapping photos to make new friends. But we can say that with its wood floors, stiff seating, and tall countertops, Meow Parlour seems more conducive to working on that marketing deck while enjoying the cats as eye candy than it is to blissing out with the furry felines in kitty cuddle puddles, as one might do at a carpeted café in Tokyo.
That said, there are a few pillows strewn about, and come January you’ll be able to order in Blue Bottle coffee and Ha’s cat macarons, rather than having to fetch them yourself from the adjacent café around the corner on Ludlow Street.