Stepping into a large van with the promise of some coffee and cats might sound unusual at first, but walk into the Moon Cat Cafe and discover the little faces peering up with curiosity, making the risk worthwhile.
For a $12 entrance fee, visitors can enjoy a drink, a pastry and spend time with cuddly creatures in the first mobile cat cafe, according to its website.
Janet Pao founded the Moon Cat Cafe over a year ago. In her renovated van, she travels to different locations throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties to provide an environment for people to bask in kitty glory.
With a lack of cat parks and cat beaches, Pao said cat cafes widen the options for people to hang out with their feline friends.
“For cats, options are a lot more limited, so that’s why I believe cat cafes have become more popular. Other than a shelter or a foster home, there’s really not a lot of public places that you get to interact and meet adoptable cats,” Pao said.
She partners with several nonprofit rescue shelters around L.A. and Orange counties like Milo’s Sanctuary and Beach City Kitties to increase awareness about the shelters’ mission and also display adoptable cats.
While there are traditional brick-and-mortar cat cafes, having a cat cafe on wheels gives Pao a unique opportunity to reach more people.
“It allows me to really partner with a lot of different communities and different rescues instead of just one. I get to bring the cat cafe experience directly to people,” Pao said.
At the first annual City of Brea Pet Expo 2018 last Saturday, the Moon Cat Cafe partnered with Cats In Tow, a local cat rescue shelter.
Thank you to everyone who visited the Brea Pet Expo yesterday and stopped by #mooncatcafe in support of @catsintow! ??. . We had an amazing time with Cheese (tabby/calico mix female, 1 yr old), Sweety (tuxedo male, 1 yr old, too shy for photos), and Malichai (orange male, 9 yrs old) on board the #mobilecatcafe. . Cheese was quite popular and received several inquiries for adoption! (Congrats to Cheese!) We also hope that if you’ve met Sweety and Malichai that you’ll consider giving shy kitties a chance too. They’re very sweet with a lot of love to give! They just need a little extra time and patience. ????. . Thank you again for supporting local non-profit cat rescues and small business! None of our work would be possible without incredible people like you! . And a huge thank you to the city of Brea, Julieann, Kristin, Judith, and Tiana for so kindly hosting us and making the first Brea Pet Expo a wonderful success! ?. . . ? credit: @poptartgato . . . #thankyou #brea #breapetexpo #orangecounty #petexpo #adoptionevent #adoptdontshop #cats #adoptablecats #catsofinstagram #adoptcats #savecats #catsintow #catcafe #occatcafe #localcatrescue #supportlocal #supportnonprofit #community #giveback
Malichai, Sweety and Cheese were the featured cats roaming around the cafe ready to find homes.
While Sweety and Malichai hid behind climbing trees and under towels, Cheese was the ham of the trio.
Cheese jumped on tables, stared out windows and, at one point, made a mess of the cat litter. She would often sit by the glass door and observe visitors, preparing for more attention.
Pao guessed that she was a mix between a tabby and a calico, but her antics were what made her completely adorable. It became heartbreakingly obvious why cat cafes are so effective in the adoption process: Cheese climbed on laps and played with customers, making it hard to fight the urge to sign adoption papers right then and there.
The cafe is also perfect for people who want to spend some time with animals, Pao said. Unable to have pets of their own, Pao said a father brought his daughter in just to play with the cats, giving her a little taste of having a pet.
Julie and Eugene Smith have never adopted a cat from the Moon Cat Cafe, but they said they proudly support Pao’s mission. They have been visiting the mobile cafe since its first days in December 2016, stopping in when Pao visits Orange County.
Having three rescue cats of their own, Julie and Eugene know how rewarding it is to give these cats permanent homes. The couple even joked they are terrible foster parents because they eventually keeping the cats instead.
“Your heart goes out to them because they’ve struggled and suffered, so we always try to keep our eyes out for rescue cats,” Eugene said.
Growing up without any pets of her own never stopped Pao’s mission for Moon Cat Cafe: to inform people about local pet rescues while giving them something to sip on.
The cats are just a bonus.
“You can come in and you can talk to someone that’s an advocate for cats. I think it’s amazing,” Julie said.
The Moon Cat Cafe will stop by Huntington Beach on June 2 and will return to Brea on June 16, so until then, prepare for a cuteness overload.