Interview with a Cat Cafe Owner Kanchan Singh
Popular in Asia, animal cafes have recently begun to make their way into the U.S.—particularly the feline variety.
For animals and animal lovers, it’s a potential win-win: Humans get to spend some quality time, relaxing with a cuddly cat while sipping some coffee or tea. Cats get some one-on-one attention and head scratches, while possibly finding a permanent home.
Crumbs & Whiskers, founded in Washington, D.C. in July 2015, is opening a West Los Angeles location in September. Owner and founder Kanchan Singh answers some of our questions about how the cat cafe-adoption concept is an innovative way to place homeless pets while helping stressed-out humans unwind:
THK: Why did you found Crumbs & Whiskers?
Kanchan Singh: I was inspired after visiting a cat cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand on my 24th birthday. I instantly fell in love with the whole concept and couldn’t stop thinking about the huge impact cat cafes could have on the lives of shelter cats. I’ve always loved animals and I really believe in the power of businesses to make a social impact…so this was the perfect way for me to combine those two things.
THK: What are the layouts of the locations?
KS: Our original store in D.C. has three floors—two for customers, one for cats only—and is 1,700 square feet. Our LA location is 1,300 square feet and only has one floor. The LA space will [be] separated into the front and back area—front will be for customers and back will be for cats only in case they’re not feeling social.
THK: How is the concept working to help find cats homes?
KS: We’ve had 123 adoptions so far from just our D.C. location.
THK: Do you have any memorable success stories?
KS: One was when we reached 100 adoptions just three days before hitting our one-year anniversary mark. That was super exciting. The other was when we received a cat with only one eye—usually, cats like him have extremely low adoption rates—and he broke all our records for being the fastest adoption when he was adopted within 24 hours of coming into the cafe.
THK: How many cats do you have at any given time and do they stay at your cafe permanently until adopted?
KS: Crumbs & Whiskers acts as a foster home for the cats until they get adopted, which means the cats stay in the cafe for as long as it takes for them to get adopted. We have 20 cats in our D.C. location and they live in the cafe—we don’t transport them anywhere during off hours as that would get very stressful for the cats.
THK: How exactly does the cafe work?
KS: C&W guests make an advance reservation in order to visit the cafe. Once they arrive, we note down their food and drink orders. All our food and drinks are made at an offsite location by our partner cafe as we cannot make any food onsite due to health codes. Once all orders our placed, our runner grabs the food/drinks from our partner cafe. Each reservation is 75 minutes long, and guests can purchase more time if we’re not fully booked.
THK: Who visits your cafe?
KS: We have all sorts of visitors at the cafe. Surprisingly, most people visiting the cafe are not looking to adopt a cat, but our cats can be quite persuasive. I cannot tell you how many times a person has come in looking to have fun but left with an adoption application.
THK: How do cats help ease stress?
KS: I think cuddling with a purring cat and sipping some tea is the most relaxing thing ever. Cats are great stress-relievers because they make people slow down, forget about everything else going on in their lives and get their cuddle fix.
THK: Do the cats at your cafe enjoy the visits?
KS: They love it. We only foster cats that are social and love being around other cats and humans.
If you’re in the market for a new cat or cats—and even if you’re not—find a local cat cafe to unwind at with some adorable felines.