We went to Santa Barbara’s new cat café

You won’t need purr-suading to go

As soon as we were invited to check out Santa Barbara’s new kitty cat haven, we started feline excited. 

The cat shelter-cum-café, Cat Therapy, opened last Monday. It’s hidden down a side-street off State Street in a converted yoga studio, and is a small space with large windows, allowing passers-by a little glimpse inside.

Cat Therapy is the brainchild of Catalina (yes, that is her real name), an Argentinian musician who has lived in the area for the last three years. She wanted to open a business which would combine her three passions in life; animals, people and charity work.

After reading about the popularity of cat cafés in Beijing and hearing about one opening in West Hollywood, Catalina decided she had found her calling in life. She came up with the idea to open one on the Central Coast in December 2016 and, after only six months of negotiating with local government, various cat shelters and potential venues, blessed Santa Barbara with Cat Therapy.

The idea behind the cat café is simple. You pay $10 for 75 minutes of playing with cute cats. While you’re there, you can order in coffee, tea and acai bowls from nearby Brasil Arts Cafe.

You can also buy “meowijuana”, a type of Catnip for 4/20-friendly felines.

Ultimately, the aim of the business is to get you to adopt a furry friend. Students are able to adopt the cats but, given that a lot of us can’t even look after ourselves properly, are likely to receive tougher vetting than other potential adopters.

For most people, a visit to Cat Therapy won’t be about bringing a cat home with them. Catalina expects that the café will be popular with sororities (in search of the perfect Insta) and animal-lovers missing their pets.

The cafe will also be good for exam-stressed students as, according to science, cats can relieve stress and lower blood pressure by releasing the hormone oxytocin, which makes us feel all happy and warm inside.

Eventually, Cat Therapy hopes to make the most of the therapeutic benefits of its fluffy residents by organizing events with hospices, retirement homes and the mentally handicapped.

Visiting this tranquil cafe requires an advance booking and a deposit of $10 during weekdays and $12 at the weekend. You can book a spot here.

UC Santa Barbara