Saskatchewan's 1st cat café opens in Regina

Saskatchewan's first cat café, VegaBoo Cat Haven, opened its doors this past weekend in Regina's east end.

The best things in life are furry at Vegaboo Cat Haven

Regina's VegaBoo Cat Haven is the first cat café to open its doors in Saskatchewan. (Samanda Brace/CBC)

It's a pawsitively purrfect hang out for vegans and animal lovers and it's brand mew to the city.

Saskatchewan's first cat café, VegaBoo Cat Haven, opened its doors this past weekend.

Alex Baylak, founder of the café, says owning a vegan cat cafe has been her dream since she stepped inside Vancouver's Catfe while studying at Simon Fraser University.

The name VegaBoo comes from a combining the word vegan with the name of Baylak's cat Boo.

"I'm really passionate about vegan cooking and my mom is also really passionate about animals. So we kind of combined our two passions together," said Baylak.

Baylak's mother, Raegan, is operational manager.

Chino, a five-month-old kitten, jumps up on one of the many structures for cats at VegaBoo Cat Haven in Regina. (VegaBoo Cat Haven/Facebook)

Divide between café and cats

The cafe offers vegan milkshakes, kombucha floats, sweets, and entrees. For public health reasons, food preparation must remain separate from the felines, so the café is split in two parts: a coffee shop and a cat haven. 

Customers can take their order over to the cat haven side and sip their cappuccino while cuddling a cat. It costs $5 to enter the cat haven.

"We presented it almost like home. So we tried to make it really comfortable, a space you can sit and stay and sit and drink your coffee and really feel relaxed," said Baylak.

Cat cafés originally started in Taiwan and Japan as a way for people who lived in small apartments prohibiting pets to have companionship and comfort.

Besides providing customers with snuggles, the cats are all available to be adopted from the Regina Humane Society. The Regina Humane Society chooses which cats go to the cat café.

"Some cats are shy and they won't thrive in an environment where there are lots of people...They decide whether the cats will thrive in this environment and those are the cats that we get," said Baylak.

The café started with six cats, and now they are down to four. Two cats, Beau and Buddy, were adopted over the weekend. Baylak says the café can accommodate between 10 and 15 cats. 

"They really get to show their personalities more and they're not in a cage," said Baylak.

"You get to interact with them as customers, as people, so you really get to fall in love with these animals. We really hope that's going to create more adoptions."

A kitten named Luke plays with a customer at Regina's Vegaboo Cat Haven. (CBC)

The kitties live on the cat haven side, free to roam as they please. They even have a VIP lounge where they can take a break away from customers.

The cat supply has slowed down since the Regina Humane Society had a successful adoption event but Baylak doesn't seem worried.

"It's kind of that catch-22 because less cats for us means like basically a good thing, right? That means there are less cats in the shelter."

There are a few house rules. People cannot bring their own cats to the cafe. Patrons are asked to not grab at the cats, let them come to you. They're also asked not to feed them human food.

There is also a limit to how many people can enter the cat haven side in an effort to avoid overwhelming the cats.