Cat café will be a first for Vancouver

A feline-friendly entrepreneur is fundraising to open Vancouver's first cat café. Cat-sitter and cat photographer Michelle Furbacher has teamed up with the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association with the aim of opening "Catfé".

"Catfé" will give patrons a chance to grab a latte and mingle with rescued kitties

Michelle Furbacher, on the right, plans to open a cat café to host felines from the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association. Alannah Hall, on the left, is a volunteer with the rescue association. (Elaine Chau)

A feline-friendly entrepreneur is fund raising to open Vancouver's first cat café.

Cat-sitter and cat photographer Michelle Furbacher has teamed up with the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association with the aim of opening "Catfé".

"I discovered online, by accident one day, that there's this cat café in Japan," Furbacher told The Early Edition.

"After more research, I discovered that there are many, many cat cafés. And I just figured that would be the perfect business, to bring the whole community together — to socialize with cats." 

Monty, one of the cats at the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association, was a stray picked up in New Westminster. His clouded eye is a result of long-term diabetes. (Roham Sheikholeslami)

Catfé will be divided into two sections. One side will serve food and beverages, and the other will be a cat lounge, where patrons can play with cats from the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association. It will also serve as a foster home for the adoptable cats.

"I just find there's something magical in the non-verbal communication with a soft cuddly little fur ball," said Furbacher.

Furbacher has launched a crowd-funding campaign with a goal of $50,000 to help get Catfé off the ground. Contributors to the Indiegogo site get rewards such as t-shirts, stickers and free visits to the cat café.

"The great thing about crowd-funding is that it creates a community around the business so I'll get to know my customers right from the start, and they help build the business from the ground up," she said.

Furbacher hopes to have Catfé up and running by the end of the year, although the location isn't confirmed.

The world's first cat café was in Taiwan. The trend spread to Japan, and now cat cafés are opening up in several European cities, including Vienna, pictured above.

"Ideally, I'd like to have eight to 10 cats in the space," she said.

"But it also depends on finding the right kind of cats, who are socialized and happy to hang out with other cats, and socialize with people."

Cat cafés are popular in many Asian cities. The idea was born in Taiwan in 1998, and spread to Japan, where it's estimated there are now nearly 150 cat cafés.

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