It was my last night of freedom before I became a married woman, so I decided to spend it the best way I knew how. With Barry and Leo and Marco and Sergei. I dreamt of cuddling with these cuties and running my hands through their hairy chests. I thought about how their magnificent eyes would glow, and how their tails would arch up, as they yearned for affection. Yes, the aforementioned dudes are cats, not men. And for one day I would have them all.
New York City is littered with trendy bars and clubs, but rather than have my bachelorette party at one of those cliché spaces, I opted for a more alternative, feline-oriented approach. I wanted to party at a cat cafe, so that’s exactly what I did. And this is how I ended up spending the remaining hours of my singledom snuggling with Sergei, the gray tabby over macaroons and iced lattes.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, cat cafes are essentially open spaces where humans and felines (who are usually up for adoption) can mingle and enjoy each others’ company, while ordering food and drinks as well. They grew to prominence in Asia in the 1990s, as many small apartments didn’t permit pets, and the concept has since spread all over the world.
New York City has several options to choose from. I had my “cat-chelorette” party at Meow Parlour, a chic cafe in Soho, which at only three years young also happens to be the oldest cat cafe in city. Reservations can be made months in advance, especially for large groups. Thanks to the coordination and planning of my amazing bridesmaids, they had no problem accommodating a group of a dozen friends, and this crazy cat lady.
Founded by Christina Ha, who runs Macaron Parlor, Meow Parlour’s menu specializes in desserts and coffee. I downed a delicious mini apple pie, as well as a cat-shaped Linzer tart, all while actually petting a cat and donning a sparkly cat ear tiara! Tell me again how a bride-to-be should be waiting in line for over an hour to get into some club that will be a punchline in a month so I can sip over-priced cocktails. I can’t hear you over the sound of all this purring!
Also, if you’re concerned about hygiene, and are grossed out by the thought of eating in a space where dozens of cats are roaming about, I swear this is all very sanitary. (The New York Health Department wouldn’t have it any other way!) The actual kitchen is disconnected from the eating space and food is brought in from a separate entrance. I can assure you there was no fur found in any of our food.
If you’re looking for Japanese eats with your cat experience, head to Koneko on the Lower East Side. (It’s name literally means “kitten” in Japanese!) Koneko has a full sake bar and housemade izakaya classics. The seafood and pork belly okonomiyaki frequently sell out. And of course there’s always mochi for dessert. They also host some great events like Celebrity Bingo Nights and Drag Queen Karaoke battles. We really hope the cats partake in the latter.
For Brooklynites, there’s the aptly named Brooklyn Cat Cafe in Brooklyn Heights. And if you can’t make it there in person, you can check out all the action via a 24/7 Kitten Cam live stream. Also there are some cafe rats named Remy and Emile, who help take care of the cats. Even though this sounds like something out of a Disney movie, we swear we’re not making this up!
And if dogs are more your speed, head to Boris and Horton—New York’s first Department of Health approved dog-friendly café. In addition to hosting frequent adoption events, customers are allowed to bring their pups inside and eat alongside them.
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want a cup of coffee, all of these places provide enriching experiences for both the people and the animals that inhabit them. Even years after my cat-chelorette party, my friends and I still remember all the cats we met and all the cookies we ate along the way. We had the time of our lives and would do it again…eight times over.
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Header image courtesy of Koneko.
Jessica is an Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.