Toronto could get a cat café (but possibly without food, and only six cats)

Toronto could get a cat café (but possibly without food, and only six cats)

(Image: R.A. Paterson/Flickr) (Image: R.A. Paterson/Flickr)

Toronto’s cat-loving community can (cautiously) rejoice. A woman named Jen Morozowich, who works in marketing but fosters cats in her spare time, is planning to open the city’s first feline-friendly café with her business partner, restauranteur Jeff Jarvis. Called Smitten Kitten, the concept is still in its infancy, but Morozowich has her sights set on Koreatown.

A “cat café” is exactly what it sounds like: a place where people can consume food and drinks while playing with multiple cats. We’ve been wondering when Toronto would get on board with the trend, which has recently taken off in a few other cities. Tokyo currently boasts over 100 cat-friendly coffee venues, while London opened its first cat café, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, last March. (Apparently, the city has gone wild for the place.) North America doesn’t have any cat cafés yet, but that will change when Montreal’s Café Chat l’Heureux opens this summer.

We haven’t studied the law in all those other places, but in Toronto, we foresee some fairly serious regulatory hurdles that’ll have to be overcome before Smitten Kitten opens shop. Potentially most crushing: Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act currently prohibits businesses from harbouring live birds and animals in any room where food is made, prepared, processed, handled, served, stored, sold or offered for sale—which would seem to throw a wrench in the “café” concept. Metro reports that Morozowich plans to get around that by serving food in one room, and sequestering all the cats in another. While we can’t say for sure, we suspect that kind of loophole might not fly with the licensing bureaucracy. There’s also the section of the Toronto municipal code that puts a strict six-cat limit on all city residences, which would potentially stymie even an informal, out-of-the-house type of arrangement.

So, while we respect Morozowich’s vision of humans and felines co-existing in a quaint Toronto coffee shop, we’re slightly concerned about the execution. That said, cat enthusiasts may still want to contribute to her crowdfunding campaign when it starts—just in case. When Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium finally launched in Shoreditch, first bookings went to Londoners who financially supported the cause.