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.
“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.
“[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.