Once upon a time, immediately after moving into my current apartment, I told a mentor of mine that I was thinking about adopting a four-legged baby, most likely a cat. She was neither encouraging nor supportive.
“That cat will only hold you back,” she argued, “you’re too young and unsettled to give up your freedom. Right before you leave town for a week, 7 out of 10 times, the downtown or Bronx-based buddy who agreed to feed it while you’re away will dick you over at the last second, mark my words.” (These are bits and pieces of an impassioned 15-minute monologue, not unlike an attorney’s closing argument, pleading with a jury to keep a defendant off death row.) “What you need is a cat room. A place where you can show up and play with a cat whenever you get bored or depressed or sick of it all, without being the one responsible for the cat’s welfare.”
Didn’t know such rooms existed (and doubt she knew either) until skimming an article in the local paper a couple of months ago. A cat café recently opened in Chinatown. $4 to spend half an hour in a room with cats. There’s a waiting list.
I’d been looking forward to it ever since I reserved my spot in January. On the day of your appointment, you’re allowed to spend more than the initial 30 minutes with the cats, but I promised myself I wouldn’t dare because I’d get too attached and adopt one, something I’m in no position to do at the moment. It’s like going to a hooker - you get in, collect what you came for, and get out. Anything beyond that is too risky.
I expected private rooms (one customer in a room with at least one assigned cat) - the type of delusion that can crop up after you’ve skimmed, and not studied, an article. There was one room, in total, filled with many cats and many people. Most of the cats were sleeping. Most of the awake ones weren’t impressed with us, even me. We were an imposition. It turned into half an hour of respecting the cats’ personal space.
Dogs would love a room like this. A larger, local, partially outdoor dog café, nothing too bougie – great idea! But, per usual, another hustle-happy Manhattanite (or two of them, it seems) has already beaten me to the punch: See “NYC's First Dog Cafe in Development Now,” available at http://www.amny.com/lifestyle/dog-cafe-in-nyc-1.9814188.
On my way out, a person walking by cornered me about how things went - her first appointment is next month. I told her it was good, but most of the cats were sleeping.“But you can still pet a sleeping cat, right?" she asked. "No one will try to stop you?” Now here’s someone who doesn’t get cats, or animals, or just anyone really. Would you want a stranger fondling you while you’re sound asleep?