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Salt Lake’s first cat cafe might reflect an increase in “cat-centric” environments

A cat sleeps by the window of the cat lounge at Tinker’s Cat Cafe, located on 302 E. 900 South. The cafe allows customers the opportunity to spend time with cats and also offers a friendly environment for adoption. (Photo by Michael Dougherty)

It could cost you only $8 to meet your new best friend.

Tinker’s Cat Cafe, located on 302 E. 900 South, opened last November and is Salt Lake City’s first ever cat cafe, where customers can purchase coffee and drinks and then hang out with cats.

Cat cafes serve a dual purpose: They allow people to spend time with cats and offer a friendly environment for adoption.

“I saw opening a cat cafe as a win-win,” said Lisa Boone, the shop’s owner. “Many people love to drink coffee, and it’s really great to see people open up and help cats find homes. It’s a great environment for the cats and for people who are genuinely looking to adopt. If you happen to fall in love with a furry friend and would love to adopt them, you can.”

Joelee Cherrington, a student at Westminster, has visited the cafe and said she appreciates how the cats are sent from Salt Lake City Animal Services to be adopted in a better environment.

A mural painted on the side of Tinker’s Cat Cafe, located on 302 E. 900 South, demonstrates the cat-centric environment inside. The business opened last November and is Salt Lake City’s first ever cat cafe, where customers can purchase coffee and drinks and then hang out with cats. (Photo by Michael Dougherty)

“I think it’s important that these cats don’t go back to the shelter at all, and the only way that they leave the cafe is if they are adopted,” Cherrington said. “The cafe isn’t only about making people happy but is also about making sure that the cats are comfortable and go to a good home.”

Even if customers aren’t able to adopt, they can still enjoy the therapeutic benefits from the cats any time they visit.

Westminster College sociology professor Kristjane Nordmeyer, a frequent Tinker’s visitor, teaches a May Term class called “Meow or Never,” which explores the world of cats from a cultural and social perspective.

She said the rise of cat cafes might be due to an increase in the status of pets and “cat-centric” environments.

“Sociologically speaking, I think this cat-centric environment [at Tinker’s] reflects an increase in the status of pets in our community,” she said. “Many of us, myself included, consider our pets to be a part of our families. This visibility extends far beyond cat cafes into changes in interior design that is cat-centric, magazines that focus on cats, cat celebrities, to people who rescue kittens and cat behaviorists.”

Nordmeyer’s work also includes an examination of cats in social media and popular culture, the processes of gendering cats and cat discourse, recent work on cats in their environments and the relationships between cats and their human companions.

“I see [Tinker’s] as a larger piece of the cat community, and it’s a lot more accessible,” she said. “It is a great place for downtime and a great place to help the cat community. It’s better when you support a local cat cafe where the cats have an open and safe environment to live and people who are are genuinely looking to adopt can experience a better initial relationship.”

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Michael is a junior communication major and the type of guy you would want to bring home to meet your family. Michael’s studies revolve around media and public relations. Outside the classroom, you can find him skiing around Brighton Resort or hiking in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Michael is excited to further his studies in journalism through The Forum.

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