By Paris Spence-Lang
VANCOUVER — When I spoke to Michelle Furbacher, Purresident of Catfé, she was just rising from a cat nap. Apparently some animal behaviours are contagious—but then again, who wouldn’t want to live like a cat? And while Furbacher hasn’t gone full feline just yet, her life has definitely become full of felines. Over the past year, she has made it her mission to marry coffee and cats in Vancouver’s first cat café.
Furbacher’s love of cats began in the first grade with a Siamese named Sasha. “I was already obsessed with cats because of Garfield books,” she says, “so it was a magical moment.” But her relationship with cats developed most with her second cat, Peanut, who was found in a junkyard. Peanut quickly became a member of the family, and when Peanut passed away, Furbacher looked for ways to help more distressed cats. That’s when she, while cat-sitting on the side and looking for a way to make something involving cats into a full-time job, heard about cat cafés.
Originating in Taiwan, cat cafés—or catfés—have now popped up all over Europe and North America. So where the hell are Vancouver’s? Furbacher decided to make the jump into a $50,000 Indiegogo campaign, and like any cat, she landed on all fours with the funds for Vancouver’s first catfé successfully raised.
Furbacher says catfés serve two purposes. “Some people really want to be with animals but they can’t make that commitment.” She herself experienced this while living in a closed-to-cats apartment building. The second reason is that cats are harbingers of humanity. “In a lot of cafés everyone is just sitting on their computers,” she continues. “I want people to be more interactive [by bringing them together] through their love of cats.” And people do love them— Furbacher received over 500 applications for barista positions, a sign that Vancouver is as cat-crazy as the rest of the world.
There’s another bonus. Catfé has partnered with the BCSPCA to facilitate cat adoptions and will spotlight a different animal shelter each month, donating a percentage of the profits to that organization.
And through all of this, Furbacher found a little love for herself. “I ended up fostering a cat… his name is Snuggles. It’s been good having him around as a reminder of why I’m doing this.”
Catfé expects to open mid-December at 88 West Pender Street, on the second floor of International Village Mall.BC, British Columbia, cat cafe, cat puns, Catfe, cats, food and drink, meow