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SLC Coffee Spot Lets Customers Get Cozy With Cats

Drive by Tinker’s Cat Cafe on 900 South and you might notice something a little different. On the right-hand side there’s a coffee shop. That’s to be expected. But on the left-hand side, there are cats. Lots of cats.

“I was raised in a cat family, if you will. My mother, my grandmother, my aunts, everybody just really, really loved cats," says Lisa Boone, the owner of Salt Lake’s first cat cafe, which opened a little more than a week ago.

The way it works is you can order a meow-chiato or cat-accino on the cafe side — they like cat puns here. But to get into the cat lounge, reservations are recommended.

Credit Julia Ritchey / KUER
A barista serves up cat-themed coffee drinks on the cafe side.

“You can reserve an hour-slot; it is $8, and you get to hang out with kitties for the hour,” says Boone.  

The two sides are completely separated by a wall and door, which you can see through.  

It’s a concept Boone lifted from Japan, which is known for its wacky, animal-themed cafes, featuring puppies, birds and even raccoons.

But besides the novelty factor, there's another positive. The cats at Tinker’s are all from Salt Lake County’s Animal Services and are available for adoption.

“It’s a win-win for the community, for people to enjoy themselves and then the cats — they need getting homes through the shelters," she says.

Inside the lounge, customers can be just as relaxed as their feline companions. One black cat snuggles on a man’s lap, while an orange tabby plays with a bell.

Customers Marisa Johnson and Ellen Zinn sit next to a cat-scratching post, where a grayish feline rubs against their legs. It's their first visit. And although they both own cats, they wanted to check out the new space.

Credit Salome Moynot / KUER
Marisa Johnson, left, and Ellen Zinn, right, talk about their appreciation of cat culture.

“[It] totally sated my crazy cat lady quota for the day,” says Johnson.

“I think there’s a lot of therapy to be had by hanging out with a bunch of cats,” says Zinn with a laugh. “And it’s not as crazy as you think.”

Boone says that’s the point. A former yoga teacher, she wanted to create a place where people could de-stress.

“You know, there’s a lot of hard stuff out there that we go through, and I like having places for people to forget about all that,” she says.

Boone says she’s pleased with the reception so far. Four cats were adopted in their first week — proof, she says, that cats and coffee are a good match.  

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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